Israel announces massive forced transfer of Bedouin citizens in Negev

Israel’s Bedouin Settlement Authority details plan to forcibly transfer 36,000 people to expand military training areas and make way for ‘economic development’ projects.

Israeli authorities announced Monday, 28 January 2019, a plan to forcibly transfer 36,000 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in unrecognized villages in the country’s southern Naqab (Negev) region in order to expand military training areas and implement what it called “economic development” projects.


The implementation of the plan is slated to commence in the coming year and will be carried out over the course of several years. The plan provides clear confirmation that Israel’s Authority for the Development and Settlement of the Bedouins in the Negev overtly discriminates against the Bedouin population, and considers them an obstacle that must be removed from the landscape in order to clear a path for Jewish settlement and “development”. The government plans to move these citizens to poverty-stricken, government-planned townships in other areas of the Naqab.


This forced transfer plan violates Bedouin citizens’ rights under both Israeli law and international law, including the right to property, dignity, equality, adequate housing, and freedom to choose one’s residence.


Attorney Myssana Morany, Adalah’s Land and Planning Rights Unit Coordinator, responded:


“Israeli authorities are openly proud of this act of massive forced population transfer. This further reinforces our long-held position that Israel’s Bedouin Settlement Authority is a racist body that aims to expel the Bedouins from their homes and take over their lands. In order to Judaize the Naqab (Negev), Israeli authorities are implementing economic and military plans that are not intended to serve the Bedouin and, in fact, ignore their very existence. The Naqab Bedouin will pay a heavy price for these plans: they will be forcibly expelled from their homes, their communities will be demolished, and they will be exposed to potentially-life threating health and environmental hazards.”


The Authority’s announcement detailed four different projects that together comprise the plan for mass forcible transfer: the southern extension of Highway 6 (Trans-Israel Highway); the expansion of the Beka’at Kana’im military firing zone; and two major projects against which Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is already waging legal battles, namely:


  • Establishment of Ramat Beka special military industrial zone: The plan to move the IMI Systems weapons testing facility (which was recently privatized and sold to Elbit Systems) from the central Israeli suburban community of Ramat Hasharon to a location in the midst of Bedouin communities in the Naqab is expected to lead to forced evictions of thousands of residents and exposure to safety and environmental risks. An objection to this plan filed by Adalah and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights has been rejected by Israeli authorities despite the fact that local Bedouin residents were not granted an opportunity to respond to the statements of Israel’s Bedouin Authority. This plan has not yet entered into force. [CLICK HERE for more details on Ramat Beka]


  • Establishment of Sde Barir phosphate mine: This plan, which will result in the immediate evacuation of thousands of people and expose thousands more to health hazards, was approved on the basis of an environmental impact survey that ignored the existence of the area’s 15,000 Bedouin residents, even those who live in the recognized village of Al-Fura'a. Adalah, on behalf of the Bedouin residents of Al-Fura’a, the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages together with three other human rights organizations, has petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court against the plan. The court will hold a hearing on the petition on 27 February 2019.


The international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States, has often raised serious concerns about Israel’s demolitions, forced evictions, and displacement of Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Naqab.


In September 2018, the EU Parliament, in a resolution entitled, “The threat of demolition of Khan al-Ahmar and other Bedouin villages”, called on the Israeli government to put an immediate end to its policy of threats of demolition and actual eviction against the Bedouin communities living in the Negev and in Area C in the occupied West Bank.


CLICK HERE to read an English translation of the Bedouin Settlement Authority’s announcement


CLICK HERE to read the EU Parliament’s resolution



Israeli military industries moving massive testing facility to south, 1,200 Bedouin structures at risk of forced displacement


(Photo by Mati Milstein)