Following Adalah's Petition Israeli Health Ministry Reopens Mother and Child Clinics in Unrecognized Arab Bedouin Villages in the Naqab

(Haifa, Israel) Following a Supreme Court petition submitted by Adalah in December 2009, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on 11 August 2010 that two of the three mother and-child clinics which were closed in Arab Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) will be reopened. The clinic in Abu-Tlul village will be open three days a week while the clinic in Qasr al-Sir will be re-opened for two days per week. The Wadi al-Nam clinic remains closed. The petition was submitted by Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher on behalf of Arab Bedouin women living in the three villages; the head of the villages' local committees; and the following NGOs: Yasmeen Al-Naqab for Promoting the Health of Bedouin Women, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, and the Galilee Society.

The mother and child clinics in the villages of Abu-Tlul, Wadi al-Nam and Qasr al- Sir were all closed in October 2009 by the MOH. The MOH claimed that it lacked sufficient personnel to staff the clinics. Since their initial opening about ten years ago following litigation by Adalah (See HCJ 7115/97, Adalah, et al v. Ministry of Health, et al.), the mother and child clinics provided basic, essential medical care for some 18,000 people. The villages of Abu Tlul and Qasr al-Sir were recently recognized by the State of Israel in 2005, while the village of Wadi al-Nam still remains unrecognized. Following the clinics' closure, Adalah submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding their re-opening.

“The Ministry of Health's announcement regarding the reopening of the two clinics is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. Arab Bedouin villages in the Naqab suffer from a great lack of preventative health services. The basic needs of the residents of these villages are not being met. We expect the Ministry of Health to provide equal and adequate medical care to all. We also expect the government to invest more resources in order to meet the urgent needs of the residents of these villages," stated Waseem Abbas of PHR-I.

Attorney Sawsan Zaher from Adalah stated: "We are pleased with the re-opening of the two mother and child clinics, however, we will continue with our legal struggle until the third clinic in Wadi al-Nam is also re-opened. It is unfortunate that the MOH decided to close the clinics in October 2009, which led to severe violations of the citizens' constitutional rights. and Arab Bedouin women and children's health rights in Wadi al-Nam are still being violated."