Adalah petitions Be’er Sheva court for preschool education in unrecognized Bedouin village of Alsira

Court schedules urgent hearing for 25 May 2016 at 10:00am.

In the unrecognized Bedouin village of Alsira in the Naqab/Negev desert in southern Israel, as in dozens of other Bedouin villages, three- and four-year-old children are going without any preschool education, leaving them disadvantaged compared with their young peers throughout the country. The resulting gaps do not close over time.


On 2 May 2016, Adalah, on behalf of families in Alsira, filed a petition to the Administrative Court in Bir al-Sabe/Be’er Sheva to compel the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the al-Qasoum Regional Council to provide preschool settings for the children of Alsira, either in the village itself, or in the town of Kseiffe (12 kilometers away) via state-funded transportation. There are currently 21 children aged three or four in Alsira.


Adalah Attorney Muna Haddad submitted the petition, arguing that in accordance with the amended Compulsory Education Law, the MOE and the relevant local authorities are now obliged to provide preschools for children aged three and above. The petition also argued that the law mandates that the distance from a child’s home and preschool should be no more than two kilometers.


The violation of these children’s rights to education involved blatant discrimination: Only 25% of Bedouin children citizens of Israel between the ages of three and four receive preschool education, whereas the figure among Jewish children of the same age stands at over 90%. See Adalah’s position paper, “Inequality of Opportunity in Early Childhood Education,” May 2015, available here.   


Adalah refuted the idea that any connection could be made between the legal status of Alsira as an unrecognized village and the children’s rights to education. The petition argued that conditioning the right of children to receive an education on the legality of their place of residence was tantamount to punishing them and that the state’s use of children as a means of pressurizing their families to leave their homes in the unrecognized villages was illegal.


In 2006, the Israeli authorities issued demolition orders against most homes in Alsira. Adalah represented the villagers and persuaded the court to cancel the orders. The court stated in its decision that the village “was built long ago, before the establishment of the state” and opposed the forced displacement of the population. See Adalah press release on the 2014 district court’s decision, here.


As Attorney Haddad argued in the new petition, despite the cancellation of the demolition orders, which effectively constitutes recognition of the right of the villagers to live in their homes, the authorities continue to marginalize the children of the village by denying them access to preschool education.


Immediately following the submission of the petition, the Administrative Court scheduled a hearing on the case to take place on Wednesday 25 May 2016 at 10:00 am, illustrating the urgency of the matter.


Case Citation: Administrative Petition 4749-05-16, Ibrahim Alamour v. The Ministry of Education and Al-Qasoum Regional Council