Israeli Supreme Court to hear Adalah petition demanding Israel connect Bedouin schoolchildren to distance-learning system

Israel announces general return to school, but most schoolchildren from Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) remain in their homes because of classroom overcrowding and schools’ lack of preparedness for coronavirus. Contrary to claims made by Israeli authorities, Bedouin students don’t have the internet connections or in-home computers necessary for distance learning.

UPDATE: The Supreme court dismissed the petition because the government declared a return to school, despite that thousands of Bedouin children have not returned to school. The court recommended that the petitioners pursue their claims with the new Education Minister, and if not resolved within three months, to return to court. Some of the schools that serve these children contend that they cannot reopen because they cannot meet the Health Ministry’s guidelines, while others are located in coronavirus “hot spots” where schooling has not resumed.  

Following up on the case, Adalah sent a letter on July 9 to Israeli officials demanding they act in preparation for the upcoming school year to make the education system accessible to children from Bedouin villages in the Naqab. In the letter, sent on behalf of the Follow-Up Committee for Arab Education and the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab, Adalah demanded to connect Bedouin schoolchildren in the Naqab to distance learning and to arrange for routine classroom studies to meet the Health Ministry social distancing guidelines.


The Israeli Supreme Court will hear today, 20 May 2020, a petition submitted by Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel demanding that Israeli authorities connect Bedouin schoolchildren in the southern Naqab (Negev) region to the distance-learning system.


The hearing is slated for 14:00 at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem [LOCATOR MAP].


Adalah demands that the Israeli authorities connect Palestinian Bedouin students in the Naqab – citizens of Israel - to in-home internet infrastructure or, alternately, provide them with the mobile routers and computers required to connect to the distance-learning system.


CLICK HERE to learn more about Adalah’s demand for equality in education


This past Sunday (17 May), Israeli authorities suggested that the Supreme Court dismiss the petition on the grounds that the state education system has resumed regular operations and that the urgent hearing on Adalah’s petition was therefore unnecessary.


However, Adalah stressed to the court that the COVID-19 state of emergency is not indeed behind us and the justices decided that the hearing should be conducted as scheduled.


While Israel has announced a general return to school, most schoolchildren from Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) remain in their homes because of classroom overcrowding and schools’ lack of preparedness for coronavirus-related safeguards.


Most of the Naqab Bedouin schoolchildren have not yet returned to regular classes and, contrary to claims made by Israeli authorities, more than 50,000 students in 48 Naqab villages don’t have connections to either electricity nor internet and most don’t have access to computers.


Adalah also emphasized that Israel authorities themselves have warned against a second wave of the pandemic.


The petition was filed by Adalah attorneys Sawsan Zaher and Aiah Haj Odeh on behalf of the Follow-up Committee for Arab Education, the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab, the National Association of Arab Parents' Committees for Education, the Negev Coexistence Forum, Hamleh - The Arab Center for Social Media Development, Adalah, and five children from the unrecognized villages in the Naqab who do not have a computer and are not connected to electricity or the internet because state authorities do not provide basic infrastructure in their villages.