Bedouin Tribe Leaves Southern Israel Home After 20-year Battle

Families move to new village after losing struggle with regional council head Pini Badash.

Yanir Yagna
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Yanir Yagna

Almost 20 years of confrontation between Omer regional council head Pini Badash and the Tarabin Bedouin tribe has ended, with the last Bedouin families leaving the regional council area and moving to a new village, named Tarabin, near Rahat.

For years, Badash has tried to remove the Bedouin tribe from their longtime home, which lies within the regional council boundaries. At its peak the confrontation became violent with shots being fired at Badash's home, and his cars and private plane set on fire. Five years ago the two sides, together with the Israel Lands Administration, decided that tribe members would move to the new village in return for NIS 180,000 and a one-dunam plot per family. Still, even though most of the families left a year ago, the last families agreed to leave only in recent weeks.

"We were required to leave by law," says Anwar Tarabin, who moved to the new village a month ago. "They issued court orders and left us no choice. We moved from shacks to other shacks. We would like to return because our real home was there."

Tarabin says he lived in the Omer area since 1961. "Pini Badash saw to it that we were removed from there so he could build a new neighborhood. He used his connections in the government ministries to remove us from our land. The law doesn't apply to Bedouin; we're fourth-class citizens."

Badash says the authorities' attitude to the new village is far from perfect. "They lack infrastructures for five years now," he says, adding that several of the village's residents called on him to run Tarabin. "I have no doubt that if they were my responsibility their situation would be much better," he said.

Badash added that in recent years, land prices rose and there is more demand for houses in the village.

Israeli Bedouin demonstrating outside of the Be'er Sheva government offices on Thursday, October 18, 2012.Credit: Ilan Assayag