Planned Dimona-Yeruham train line will cause severe harm to local Bedouin residents

Construction of planned railway requires home demolitions, will block access to neighboring family homes, kindergartens, service centers, agricultural land, and mosques.

Israel's planned passenger rail line between the Jewish towns of Dimona and Yeruham in the Naqab (Negev) desert will swallow up extensive tracts of land and cause serious harm to the 1,400-strong Bedouin community of Rahma, facilitating public transportation needs for Jewish citizens at the expense of Bedouin citizens.


Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab, the Rahma village committee, and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel submitted their objection to the planned railway line to the Southern District Planning and Building Committee on 14 September 2017.


The organizations demanded that the Israeli authorities shelve the current plan or consider alternative routes that do not violate the basic rights of Rahma's Bedouin residents, and swallow up some 3,600 dunams (around 890 acres) of land.


(Google Maps)


"Despite the great importance of constructing a railway line that will provide all area residents – Jews and Bedouins – with comfortable and fast public transportation … the plan will cause widespread harm to the residents of Rahma living along the proposed route, including: the blocking of roads connecting residents to family members living in nearby areas, to agricultural areas, planned service centers, kindergartens, and mosques; strict restrictions on construction and development along the train's route and in large areas of land where residential housing now stands; and home demolitions."


In their objection, the organizations stated that the plan’s authors refused to take account of the Bedouin residents of Rahma, whose rights to dignity, property, livelihood and environmental justice stand to be disproportionally infringed by the proposed railway line.


"The planning authorities did not take into consideration the implications [of the plan] for the area’s residents and its expected impact, or examine any means to respond to and/or reduce this impact. [By contrast], the potential impact of the plan in other areas – including archaeology, ecology/the environment, and private business – was taken into consideration."


Street view of Rahma (Google Maps)