Adalah Asks the Supreme Court to Find the Minister of Health in Contempt of Court for His Failure to Build Mother & Child Clinics in the Negev (Nakab)


Adalah today filed a motion to the Supreme Court of Israel seeking the imposition of a heavy fine on the Minister of Health for his failure to build six Mother & Child clinics in a number of unrecognized Arab Bedouin villages in the Negev (Nakab), as mandated by a Supreme Court ruling in March 1999. 

Adalah's General Director Hassan Jabareen, acting on behalf of 121 Arab Bedouin living in the Negev (Nakab), argued that the Ministry's continuing failure to establish the clinics and to provide public transportation for residents of the unrecognized villages to existing clinics constituted a breach of the Ministry's legal commitments. He also pointed out that as a result of the recent spread of pneumoccocus bacteria in the Negev (Nakab), the issue of the clinics has become "a matter of life and death." 

Under the Supreme Court's March 1999 ruling, the Ministry of Health was ordered to construct six Mother & Child clinics in two phases. The first three were to have been built in May 1999, while the second three were to be built by March 2000. The Ministry also agreed to expand the existing clinics, and to provide public transportation to them from the unrecognized villages, effective immediately. 

To date, however, none of these clinics have been built. In fact, the Attorney General's Office informed Adalah by letter that the Ministry of Health has yet to even find a contractor for the first three clinics. Moreover, public transportation to existing clinics has been significantly reduced, and now functions only once a week. 

Statistics bear out the importance of these clinics to the health of the women and children in the unrecognized villages in the Negev (Nakab). According to the Ministry of Health's own figures, the infant mortality rate in these villages is the highest in Israel (16 per 1000), and the children's immunization rate is the lowest. In addition, approximately 50% of Arab Bedouin children from these villages are hospitalized in the first year of their lives, and more than 50% suffer from anemia and poor nutrition.