Israel is neglecting Bedouin communities in the Negev, according to a report by the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality comparing the provision of public services to Jewish and Bedouin communities in the Negev.
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“These statistics, which show economic weakness, high unemployment and lack of access to government services, prove that the Bedouin's tough situation results from governmental neglect that has been going on for years,” stated the report, published last Thursday. “This population is therefore at the bottom of the list as the weakest population in Israel.”
The report examined the provision of public services in the primarily Jewish towns of Omer, Yeruham, Mizpe Ramon and Dimona compared with heavily Bedouin populated areas like Rahat, Segev Shalom, Hura, Arara, Kseifa, Tel Sheva and Lakiya. The Abu Basma Regional Council was also examined.
The report also revealed that while population density in Bedouin towns ranges from 1,000 to 2,700 people per square kilometer, the maximum population density in the Jewish communities is 400 people per square kilometer. The city of Rahat, which has about 55,000 inhabitants, has an area of jurisdiction of only 19,000 dunams. By comparison, the city of Dimona has only 40,000 inhabitants, has an area of jurisdiction of 172,000 dunams.
An examination of the provision of services by the National Insurance Institute in the various communities found a wide disparity in the number of hours that the offices are open to the public. In Yeruham, the offices are open one hour per 538 people, while in Rahat the rate is one hour per 4,575 people. The report also found that Rahat was the only Bedouin community that had a branch of the Employment Service and received services from the Interior Ministry.
According to the report, branches of the National Insurance Institute operate in four Bedouin communities at reduced hours, and that no services exist at all in Tel Sheva and Lakiya. But a branch does exist in Mitzpeh Ramon, the smallest community examined.
Uri Trabulus, who wrote the report for the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, told Haaretz that the Bedouin authorities do not adequately serve their residents.
“Despite the bad situation the Bedouin towns are in, the state continues to offer these towns as a solution to the problem of the Bedouin in the Negev,” Trabulus says. “The meager services, lack of infrastructure and high rate of unemployment prove that the Bedouin towns do not provide the minimal services to their residents.
“It seems that the state’s insistence on seeing the towns as the only solution stems from a security perspective that aims to crowd the population into as small an area as possible, not a solution to a civil and social problem.”