Power Outages in Bedouin Towns in the Negev and the North
Over the past week, we have received multiple complaints from Bedouin residents of various villages and cities in the Negev and from the heads of local Bedouin councils, regarding daily malfunctions and power outages that severely disrupt thousands of residents’ routines. Applicants shared they had not encountered a similar situation in the past: in previous years, Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) staff would arrive and resolve any issue within hours, yet the current wait times for IEC staff are lengthy, and even after they address the problem, power in the neighborhood goes out yet again, plunging the neighborhood into darkness. We were also informed that the IEC refused to enter the Bedouin villages and cities where demonstrations took place against the Jewish National Fund’s tree planting policy in the Negev, claiming that there was no police authorization.
On January 24, 2022, we appealed to the CEO of the IEC, inquiring why there are extensive power outages in Bedouin villages and cities in the Negev. We requested that these outages be immediately addressed, thoroughly and professionally, especially in light of the weather and approaching storm.
In our appeal, Atty. Abir Joubran Dakwar wrote that “The extensive power outages and IEC’s lack of sufficient, thorough, and swift treatment violate Bedouin residents’ rights to dignity, subsistence, livelihood, health, and education. Moreover, they violate their right to a reliable supply of electricity, which the Supreme Court has only recently recognized as part of the fundamental right to human dignity. ”
The next day, we appealed to the CEO of the IEC again, following complaints we received from residents of Nazareth and Yafia regarding power outages in entire neighborhoods over the course of several hours, from the afternoon until the early hours of the morning. Residents’ inquiries to the IEC indicated that the outage was due to work conducted on a central power line.
In our appeal, Atty. Joubran Dakwar, emphasized the right to a reliable electricity supply, and its status as part of the right to a dignified existence. We requested that the IEC provide electricity to residents on a regular basis, especially in light of the approaching storm; that it would ensure that initiated outages are conducted for a short period of time and not during the coldest hours of the day, when people are present in their homes; and to notify residents of initiated outages in advance in the Arabic language, to enable them to prepare accordingly.
After receiving an insufficient reply from the IEC regarding outages in the Negev, we also appealed to the Electricity Authority and Minister of Energy regarding the matter.