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  • ACRI

Ensure Protection of the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev

A missile fell in an unrecognized village

In recent days, several missiles have landed in unrecognized villages in the Negev, in which tens of thousands of residents live. These missiles were not intercepted by the Iron Dome, as the unrecognized villages do not appear on maps as populated areas, but are rather defined as "open areas.” Furthermore, all recognized and unrecognized Bedouin villages alike, lack safe structures such as fixed or mobile shelters.

On May 16, 2021, we appealed to the Minister of Defense and the Home Front Command along with several organizations, demanding the erection of an Iron Dome to protect the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, and establish fixed or mobile shelters in all Bedouin villages in the area, whether recognized or unrecognized. In the appeal, ACRI Attorney Abir Joubran Dakwar emphasized that neglecting to protect Bedouin residents of the Negev against missiles, gravely harms their basic rights to life, bodily integrity, and equality.

Failure to provide protective measures to the unrecognized villages, was addressed in a petition filed by ACRI to the High Court of Justice in 2014. Following the petition, the Home Front Command presented a plan to improve protection for the Bedouin population, within the framework of which improvements were made to warning systems and a number of mobile shelters were placed in recognized Arab Bedouin villages. The Home Front Command further declared that "if necessary, the erection of an Iron Dome system that also protects the scattered populace will be considered." As for the dispersal and allocation of mobile shelters, the court declared that “pulling the blanket over one area will expose another area,” and thus decided not to intervene in relevant authorities’ considerations and risk level assessments. In parallel, the court noted: “Yes, we will remember that we are – thank God – amid a period of relative secure calm, and are strong with regard to the Home Front command’s professional bodies, which will update future defensive resolutions for the scattered populace, [throughout] a weakened area, as the assessment of the threat shifts; and equality will appear before their eyes.” The organizations’ letter indicated that there is no doubt that the degree of threat has changed considering the current circumstances, and requires a renewed and different arrangement regarding the defense of Bedouin villages.

The appeal was sent on behalf of ACRI, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Sikkuy-Aufoq – The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, and Shatil.

The military and Home Front Command’s response letter claimed, among other things, that defensive responsibility rests on the shoulders of the local authority, and that “insofar as there are defensive gaps within the bounds of a particular regional council, it is responsible for providing residents with public defensive infrastructure in case of emergency.” They added that mobile shelters do not constitute refuge and are a limited resource whose distribution is determined in accordance with professional prioritization.

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