International Human Rights Day – 10 December 2003

Ad placed by Adalah in Ha'aretz on 7 December 2003
Translated to English by Adalah

National Minority Rights are Human Rights

In the year 2003:

  • Most of the 45 unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab are not connected to the water and electricity infrastructure.
  • None of the nearly 70,000 Bedouin citizens in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab receive basic and adequate health services, in comparison with Israeli citizens in the rest of the country.
  • The Bedouin infant mortality rate in the Naqab is 17.1 per 1000 births, in comparison to 4.7 among the Jewish population in the same region.
  • There are no high schools in the 45 unrecognized villages in the Naqab despite the fact that the drop-out rate of Bedouin students is the highest in the state; only 60% are enrolled in the 12th grade.
  • The authorities demolished 55 structures which belong to Bedouin citizens in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab: 36 homes, 14 shops, 3 farms, a water reservoir , and a mosque.

Successive Israeli governments have not acted in order to end the shameful condition of the unrecognized villages in the Naqab. Instead, most of them have continued the policy of land dispossession, which is the same goal of the most recent government plan launched on 9 April 2003: "to deal with the Bedouin population in the Naqab." According to this plan, the Israel Lands Administration has been instructed to deny the Bedouin land claims, and as noted in the actual plan, to submit "contesting-title claims against any such claims submitted by the Bedouins." In accordance with the new plan, seven new towns will be established into which the residents of the unrecognized villages will be transferred, aiming to concentrate the Bedouins in a minimal area. This is another plan established without prior consultation with the residents of the unrecognized villages.

The UN Committee for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights determined in its May 2003 concluding observations:

The Committee continues to be concerned about the situation of Bedouins residing in Israel, and in particular those living in villages that are still unrecognized… the quality of living and housing conditions of the Bedouins continue to be significantly lower, with limited or no access to water, electricity and sanitation. Moreover, Bedouins continue to be subjected on a regular basis to land confiscations, house demolitions, fines for building "illegally", destruction of agricultural crops, fields and trees, and systematic harassment and persecution by the Green Patrol, in order to force them to resettle in "townships". The Committee is also concerned that the present compensation scheme for Bedouins who agree to resettle in "townships" is inadequate.

The time has come that the government of Israel respect universal principles of human rights in general and national minority rights in particular.

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