Thousands of Arab Bedouin Children at Risk Due to Lack of Air Raid Shelters in Schools in the Naqab

Adalah demands immediate action to provide air raid shelters, arguing that the current lack of protection constitutes a blatant violation of Bedouin children’s fundamental rights, including the rights to life and bodily integrity.

On 30 October 2023, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent an urgent letter to the Director General of the Ministry of Education, the Legal Advisor to the Ministry and the Commander of the Israeli military’s Home Front Command, to demand immediate action to provide air raid shelters in educational facilities in Arab Bedouin villages in the Naqab. 


Dozens of educational institutions located in Bedouin villages in the Naqab have no air raid shelters, something that puts the lives of thousands of schoolchildren, who are citizens of Israel, at risk. In accordance with directives issued by the Home Front Command, some of these children have resumed in-person learning in the absence of secure facilities, even though they are at risk due to rocket attacks during the current state of emergency in the country.


    CLICK HERE to read Adalah’s letter (Hebrew)


For instance, in the Al-Qasoum and Neve Midbar Regional Councils, which serve a number of recognized Bedouin villages as well as many unrecognized villages, large numbers of students have returned to in-person learning, even though there are not enough shelters or protected spaces available for their protection. In these regional councils, 122 Bedouin educational facilities lack shelters or protected areas entirely, and in 20 of them, there is a shortage of protected areas relative to the number of students. 


Other Bedouin towns situated in the central Naqab have even more limited facilities, and cannot resume in-person learning based on the lack of nearby air raid shelters, in accordance with directives of the Home Front Command, which infringes their basic right to education. In these villages, the absence of internet infrastructure, lack of access to the electricity grid, and a shortage of computers for the children combine to make remote learning unfeasible, as was already made evident during the COVID-19 crisis.


In the letter, Adalah Attorney Salam Irsheid argued that the lack of shelters in Bedouin schools in the Naqab  constitutes a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of Bedouin children, including the rights to life, bodily integrity and education. As previously affirmed by the Israeli Supreme Court, the state bears responsibility for ensuring the safety and well-being of school students in the Naqab that are within the range of rocket fire. The state’s negligence in providing shelters also renders any form of learning in these areas impractical, and in many  towns impossible.


Adalah further argued that the issue does not only affect schools: owing to systemic state discrimination and negligence, the majority of both recognized and unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab still lack any air raid shelters or other protected areas, including public shelters. The immediate provision of protective facilities within educational institutions is therefore also an urgent imperative for the general populations of these villages, as they could provide lifesaving refuge for residents during such times of emergency.


Related Press Releases:


Israel Closes Medical Clinics in Naqab Bedouin Villages, Putting About 20,000 Residents at Risk 21 October 2023 

Israel’s plan to distribute computers too little, too late for 150,000 Arab schoolkids stuck at home due to COVID-19 19 October 2020