Adalah, Bimkom reject plans for Arad train line that will harm 50,000 area Bedouin residents

Construction of new Be'er Sheva-Arad line would block access to homes & agricultural lands, restrict development, and result in widespread land appropriation, home demolitions, and evictions.


The proposed Arad passenger train line will cause significant harm to Bedouin communities in the Naqab (Negev) desert region of southern Israel.


Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed their objection to the plan on 10 August 2017. The letter of objection called on the Southern District Planning and Building Committee to consider examining alternates to the proposed passenger rail line that would cause no harm or at least much less harm to Bedouin citizens living along its route.


The current proposed plan for the electrified rail line would take 4,700 dunams (1,160 acres) of land for the construction of the tracks, right of ways, stations, access roads, and other related facilities.


The objection was filed by Adalah Attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany and Dafna Saporta and Nili Baruch of Bimkom on behalf of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab (Negev) and a number of additional Bedouin communities in the area.


The proposed Arad line would gravely violate the rights of Bedouin citizens in the area, Adalah and Bimkom wrote:


"Despite the significant importance of establishing a rail line that will provide faster and more comfortable public transportation for all residents from their homes to cities and towns in the region, the proposed train line will cause widespread harm to Bedouin residents living along its route, including: blockage of village access roads; prevention of access to residential homes and agricultural land; imposition of construction and development restrictions along the route and in wide swaths of land in which Bedouin communities are located; prevention of use of cultivated agricultural areas along the route; widespread land appropriation; home demolitions and evictions…"


An existing passenger rail line passes directly adjacent to Bedouin homes in the Naqab (Negev) desert region of southern Israel. (Google Maps)


In their objection, the two NGOs provided several examples demonstrating that the plan's drafters ignored its potential impact on the some 50,000 Bedouin residents of Al-Fur’aa, Al-Kseifeh, and unrecognized villages in the area, including Al-Buhireh, Al-Mazraa, Al-Katmaat, and Al-Azeh.


Construction of "the proposed train line will result in the demolition of dozens of buildings in the town [of Al-Fur’aa], and will impose restrictions on dozens of additional buildings that are situated along the proposed route. Additional buildings will also be affected by noise, air pollution from the trains. These factors may result in a failure to take into account the village's planning and development needs, therefore … impeding the government's decision to recognize it."


The proposed rail plan would "destroy the lives of hundreds of families, their homes, their economic investments, and harm their societal and tribal lifestyles. The law requires that every administrative authority must base its decisions on adequate and relevant factual infrastructure. There is, indeed, no point in making a decision – even a legal one – if it is not based upon the relevant facts and circumstances."


The objection proposed an alternate plan for the Arad rail line that would cause much less harm to the area’s residents, suggesting that, "the route be diverted to the north of Highway 31, taking into consideration existing development plans and agricultural lands in the area. The primary advantage of shifting the route northward is that this land is entirely empty of buildings, and the shift would greatly reduce the damage to the existing infrastructure and human fabric."


CLICK HERE to read the objection [Hebrew]