Press Release

26 September 2011

Adalah Appeals to Water Tribunal to Connect Arab Bedouin Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab to the Water Network 

(Haifa, Israel) On 25 September 2011, Adalah filed an appeal to the Haifa District Court sitting as a Water Tribunal on behalf of residents from Umm el-Hieran and Tel Arad, two Arab unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev). The appeal, which will be heard on 22 November 2011, follows a decision by the Water Committee denying the residents’ request to connect their homes to water, despite the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling on 5 June 2011, which stated that both villages were entitled to access to water. (See: C.A. (Civil Appeal) 9535/06, Abdullah Abu Musa'ed, et al. v. The Water Commissioner and the Israel Land Administration).

The Water Committee, in refusing to connect the villages to water, stated that two other solutions existed to ensure access to water for the residents: they can move from the unrecognized villages to recognized towns or they can purchase water tanks and fill them from water connection centers in the recognized towns. The appellants reject these solutions.

In the appeal, Adalah argued that the Water Committee’s decision contradicted the principles articulated in the precedent-setting Supreme Court ruling, which recognized a constitutional right to water stemming from the constitutional right to dignity.  The Supreme Court ruled that Arab Bedouin residents of the unrecognized villages were entitled to “minimal access to water” regardless of the status of their village.  The appeal was filed by Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher.

Mr. Salim Abu al-Qi’an, an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel living in Umm el-Hieran represents his family and an additional 34 families in the appeal; nearly 500 people live in the village. In 1952 the military government moved the residents to Umm el-Hieran from their ancestral lands in the Western Naqab (Negev). Despite the clear ruling of the Supreme Court three months ago, the village remains unconnected to water.

Mr. Eid al-Nabari, an Arab Bedouin citizen of Israel and head of the village committee in Tel Arad represents his family and an additional 40 families in the appeal. The village has approximately 1,500 residents, hundreds of whom are children. In 1952, the residents were ordered to move to Tel Arad by the military government.  Currently, the residents of Tel Arad need to collect water from connection points located 10 to 20 miles from the village and transport it via makeshift roads to their homes.

Adalah argued in the appeal that the lack of access to water, the need to improvise ways of water collection and transportation to the village at significantly higher prices than if they were provided water by the State, is a tremendous burden to residents and their families. The appellants emphasize that they must travel daily to bring water tanks to village and sometimes must take time off from work to assist with collection and transportation. Other residents, including women, children and the elderly, are often forced to wait for water for days, which greatly affects their everyday activities such as cooking, bathing and drinking. The lack of access to water frequently has serious consequences for all residents.


Case Citation: Appeal 51011-09/11, Salim Abu al-Qi’an, et al. v. Water Committee, et al.

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