The battle to rob the Negev from the Jewish people
Israel is literally involved in a battle to rob the Negev from the Jewish People. On this battlefield cement mixers have replaced tanks, anti-Israel organizations have replaced cannons and not so innocent journalists have replaced fighter jets. Only the goal remains the same – Dis-Inheriting the Jews of our land.
Under the auspices of a hesitant Israeli leadership, the bound hands of law enforcement and immense international pressure, time is slipping away and with it are the land reserves that belong to us and future generations. As long as there is no determined law enforcement, and a small number of Bedouin can take what they want, where they want it, no plan will work.
When there are no sticks, all the carrots in the world only worsen the problem, broadcast weakness and further postpone a solution. The Begin Plan has recently been frozen and now is the opportunity to make the necessary amendments to ensure such a plan is good for Israel. Only when the Government of Israel is determined to restore the rule of law to the Negev, will this small minority of Bedouin understand they have something to lose, and only then will it be possible to speak of a historic compromise and successful settlement. Regavim stands alone in this battle.
Regavim is an organization whose raison d’etre is to ensure responsible, legal & accountable use of Israel’s national lands and the return of the rule of law to all areas and aspects of the land and its preservation. The land issue is so important, complex and widespread that we believe that only the state holds the key to a realistic implementation of a system that ensures proper management of this most precious resource.
Based on this assumption, Regavim’s activities are directed at influencing all the State of Israel’s government systems in order to bring them, and effectively the whole country, to act based on the fundamental principles of Zionism and protect Israel’s lands and national properties.
BEDOUIN MYTH #6 – “The Bedouin are only demanding 5% of the lands of the Negev.”
Written by regavim on December 18, 2013. Posted in Bedouin Myths, Negev
Unilateral refusal adopted by the Bedouin sector in relation to any generous offer from the government over the years is in fact a bargaining chip of the Bedouin position, which refuses any compromise and creates “facts on the ground.” For the sake of discussion, they claim that the percentage of lands needed for settling the Bedouin population is only 3% of the area of the Negev (around 86,487 acres), and the amount of land claims amounts to “only” five percent (about 160,618 acres) from the total area of the Negev, which comprises some 3,212,400 acres.
“To remind you and to wake you from your slumber, the Bedouin comprise 30% of the residents of the Negev. The lands disputed over with the government are 5% of the Negev … what is the fuss over? It’s all over 5%. Over this the government establishes an administration? Over this the government establishes staff upon staff? Over this the government makes new committees each day? Apparently there is too much unemployment in the public sector. Shame on the State of Israel that chastises the Bedouin over such meager amounts of land in the Negev.” (Knesset Member Taleb Abu Arar – Ra’am Ta”al Party, from a speech in the Knesset over the Regulatory Act)
These numbers waved before us are completely divorced from reality, both in terms of the amounts of land on which the Bedouin reside today, and also in relation to the amount of land claimed:
Bedouin Settlement in the Northern Negev
Map of Bedouin Settlement – Doubled.
The aerial photographs printed above in regards to the section dealing with the number of Bedouin villages in scattered areas gives tangible evidence to the great spread of Bedouin settlement. The investigative division of Regavim has made an updated map of settlement, showing this spread covers 148,263 acres, as will be expanded upon in the following sections.
The True Extent of Lands used for Bedouin settlement is about a fifth (20%) of the Negev.
After taking away the firing ranges used by the IDF, the nature reserves and the areas protected by the National Master Plan (Plan 35), the remaining lands reserved for settlement of the Negev amounts to only 687,200 acres.
It should be emphasized that the settlement areas are not actually ever fully used for settlement and agriculture, but also include parks, open areas and the like. As such, the numbers have a completely different meaning: The Bedouin 148,263 acres actually occupy 21.5% of the lands allotted for settlement throughout the Negev, and make claims on a similar amount of land.
For the sake of comparison: There are 205,000 residents in the city of Be’er Sheva living on only 8,650 acres of land. The Bedouin population, numbering at around 211,000 people, live on an area seventeen times larger, on around 148,260 acres of land!
2. Percentage of Lands Claimed: All ownership claims over lands that have come to the courts since the 70’s until today, whether initiated by the Bedouin or in the context of opposing claims filed by the State of Israel in the past ten years, have been shelved. The State of Israel has declared over the years that according to the law and according to the registry, it is the owner of the scattered areas of the Negev and it is willing to clarify all claims of ownership of the Bedouin in court. Among the Bedouin population, only 12% (300 families) are categorized as claimants over various areas of land.
Settlement area available in the Negev
In other words: 300 families (approximately 13,000 people) are claiming private ownership over 23% of the Negev that is reserved for settlement!
In order not to leave an opening for the Bedouin claim that also individual farms and agricultural settlements in the Negev receive vast lands; it should be mentioned that this claim is NOT genuine. The farms in this region are placed there as guardians over government land and live under a tenant agreement. None of them make ownership claims over the lands they work and none of them expect to receive the land as private land.
The true extent of land where the Bedouin live, where they make claims of private ownership, is not only 5% of the area of the Negev, but rather 23% of the area of the Negev that has been allotted for settlement. Some 20-30% of Bedouin in the Negev have seized lands more than 17 times the size of the city of Be’er Sheva. Whose total number of residents is approximately equal to the total population of the Bedouin in the Negev. Among all of the sectors of Israeli society, there is no sector so small that makes a claim of private ownership over an area so large, despite the fact that from a legal perspective, it has been proven time and time again that their claims are without basis.
BEDOUIN MYTH Myth #5 – Government Budgets discriminate?
Written by regavim on December 18, 2013. Posted in Bedouin Myths, Negev,
“The Bedouin sector is the poorest among Israeli society; Bedouin local authorities are ranked at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in Israel.” For years we have heard complaints from the Bedouin and leftist organizations about discrimination and bias on the part of the state. Take for example the claim of Professor Ismail Abu Sa’ad from the Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva:
“Statistics about the situation of Bedouin towns in the Negev teach us of the abject failure of the urbanization policy assimilated into their framework. The sources responsible for this failure include a shortage of land and accompanying services, budget crises in local authorities … The municipal budgets come from two sources: budgetary transfers from the government and independent income from local taxes. In addition to this, eligible municipalities are sometimes given grants for exceptional development projects. The offices of the government systematically discriminate against Bedouin municipalities. Formulas for consideration for Bedouin towns are biased and grants for development given to them are meager in comparison with their urgent needs and what is given to Jewish settlements.”
A table of statistics published by the Central Statistics Bureau regarding data about local councils in 2011 compares the budgets of majority Jewish authorities to those of the Bedouin authorities chosen at random. The majority Jewish authorities that were chosen are also recognized as being ranked low on the socioeconomic ladder and must deal with high unemployment rates. On the majority Jewish side data was gathered from Yeruham, Sderot, Ofakim, Arad, Netivot, Dimona, and Kiryat Gat. On the Bedouin side data was gathered from Segev Shalom, Abu Basma, Arara, Tel Sheva, Hura, Ksifa, and Rahat.
A comparison of data from 2011 displays the exact opposite: governmental participation in the budgets of Bedouin authorities is almost twice as much as its participation in budgets of majority Jewish authorities.
Government Participation in Local Authority Councils
1. The annual percentage of governmental participation in budgets for majority Jewish authorities (including “exceptional budgets”) stands at an average of 51.6%. For Bedouin authorities, the annual governmental participation (including “exceptional budgets”) is an average of 78.9%. The town of Abu Basma stands out with a striking 98% (!). The budget of the authority comes from governmental aid, with only 1.8 percent from independent income.
of Property Tax Income from General Budget
2. Percentage of Property Tax Income from General Budget: For majority Jewish authorities, the percentage of independent income from property tax payments in the annual budget stands at an average of 21.3%. On the other side, the percentage of property tax in the annual budget for Bedouin authorities stands at only 3.7%. It is noteworthy that for the Council of Arara, the percentage of property tax collection rose 142% from 2010 to 2011. On opposition to this, during the same period property tax collection for Abu Basma fell by 87%.
Governmental Budgets per Person
Dividing the average governmental participation in budgets for majority Jewish authorities mentioned (693,595,000 NIS) by the total number of residents (185,400) leaves 3,741 NIS per person. Dividing the average governmental participation from the budgets of Bedouin authorities (599,869,000 NIS) by the number of residents in all of the authorities mentioned (140,200) leaves 4,278 NIS per person. If so, the Bedouin authorities enjoy a governmental investment per person that is 537 NIS higher than the governmental participation per person in the Jewish authorities.
Property Tax Payments to Local Authorities.
Residents of majority Jewish authorities numbering at 185,400 people made property tax payments in 2011 of an amount of 119,107,000 NIS for 81,051 square meters. The amount of total income from property taxes in these authorities stands at 325,387,000 NIS. The residents of Bedouin authorities, numbering at 140,200 people, paid in that year 20,749,000 NIS for only 19,885 square meters. The amount of income from property taxes in these authorities stands at 27,232,000 NIS. This data teaches on the one hand about the unusually low amount of property tax payments in the Bedouin sector (both from housing and industry), together with a general dysfunction in the collection system of the Bedouin.
The full findings of the report conducted by Regavim conclusively refute the claims of discrimination in budgets. It turns out that that percentage of governmental participation in the general budget for these authorities is 36% higher than the governmental participation in majority Jewish authorities. If you also figure in the amount of governmental aid per person, there is a difference of more than 500 NIS in favor of the residents of Bedouin authorities.
The discrimination actually favoring the Bedouin continues despite the unusually low amount of property tax payments among the Bedouin sector, where the amount rests at an average of 3.7% of the total budgets for these authorities. In addition, this data points to a low amount of property tax collection areas in the Bedouin sector.
Conclusion: The source of poverty and backwardness among the Bedouin authorities is largely due to the fact that residents do not pay taxes as required by law and live off the public purse. The key to improving quality of life in the Bedouin communities lies in the application of law and participation by residents in property tax payments – as is usual in any other authority in the country.
Bedouin Myth #4 – Are the Bedouin neglected by the State in terms of building rights.
Written by regavim on December 18, 2013. Posted in Bedouin Myths, Negev,
The Israeli Justice system describes the crisis of illegal construction as a “blow to the nation.” Different estimates gauge some 100,000 illegally constructed structures throughout the country. The illegal construction of the Bedouin takes up a sizable portion of this crisis. As of the end of 2012 the number of illegal structures by the Bedouin is estimated at some 65,000 and each year some additional 2000 new structures are built.5
A common claim is that the Bedouin have no recourse but to resort to illegal construction. The finger of accusation is pointed at the state that does not allow planning or construction permits in the Arab sector. Take for example the position paper of the Coalition for Citizen’s Rights:
“Illegal construction in Arab villages does not take place in a vacuum and is not done by choice or the desire to break or disrespect the laws of the state. Such building … is done in order to provide housing for young people and Arab families, who the state and planning authorities have left for many years with no solution to their housing problem. It basically stems from a cessation of planning by the authorities, expressed by, among other things, a lack of planning or faulty planning which does not meet the minimum requirements of Arab citizens.”
“It is important to note that the Arab citizens who are forced into this situation are not greedy construction criminals … all they seek is a modest house over their heads. We are not talking about luxurious villas. In many cases they are tin shacks, shelters, or small apartments … if it was only possible, and if they had a legal choice before them, we would not see them building without permits, construction, which from the standpoint of the costs, is much more expensive than building with permits and according to approved construction plans.”
Over the years, the State of Israel has established plans in order to settle the Bedouin in towns connected to infrastructure (electricity, water, and sewage), educational and medical facilities. Towards this end seven Bedouin towns were established, later the State executed a process of retroactively legalizing and recognizing 11 illegal Bedouin villages (referred to as Abu Basma Council towns). As of May, 2013, among the 220,000 Bedouin citizens in the Negev, some 132,000 residents are registered as living in organized, legal towns & villages.
The official position paper of the Israeli Land Authority show a multiple array of enticements offered to those Bedouin who leave the numerous illegally constructed villages and move to the legal towns and cities. These enticements are given regardless of financial status or whether they have a claim to the land or not.
“The enticements granted to the Bedouin include free housing lots exempt from development fees – the state grants the Bedouin, free of charge, lots on average 800 square meters per family (close to a ¼ acre). The plots are completely developed, including infrastructure for roads, drainage, sewage, electricity, water, etc. It is important to note that on these lots a Bedouin family can chose to build between 1 and 4 housing units according to their preference and need.
The Bedouin family that moves from an illegal village to permanent housing in a legal town or village receives monetary compensation from the State. The average amount of compensation for those moving to permanent housing is a few times higher than the true value of the illegal structure. The amount of compensation is fixed according to the index of the ILA and can reach hundreds of thousands of shekels (NIS) per family.
In addition, Bedouin families who move from illegally established villages to permanent housing receive financial grants. The State of Israel give Bedouin residents who move from these areas to permanent housing a “moving grant” of 7500 NIS per family and an extra 1500 NIS per child. It is important to note that the advantages given to the Bedouin sector are exclusive and are not given to any other sectors of the population.”
Until today, the state has spent around 370 million NIS ($100m) alone on development of lots for families who have moved from scattered regions in the framework of the compensation procedure. The budget earmarked for development of lots for the rest of the residents of scattered regions in the framework of an arrangement is estimated at close to 2.5 billion NIS. The figures from the authority for Bedouin settlement from May, 2013 show that despite unprecedented advantages, there are still 15,000 empty lots in Bedouin settlements, around a quarter of them after complete development, which remain desolate and unused.
It is noted that despite the substantial efforts invested on behalf of the state, including new towns, residential neighborhoods, and compensation for evacuation, there has not yet been an ongoing and comprehensive follow up including verification that there is a connection between these investments and an arrangement for the Bedouin population living in illegal villages. Moreover, from population statistics it appears that from 1994 to 2013 the population living in these illegal villages grew by 20,000 residents, despite all the plans and resources that have been invested in the process.
Lakiya town plan for 30,000 residents
A good example of the phenomena is Lakiya. See photos above. The government provided plans for 30,000 residents and today only 11,723 resident reside there.
Conclusion: The claim that Bedouin are forced to resort to illegal construction due to withholding of permits and adequate planning on the part of the authorities is far from the reality of the actual situation on the ground. The State of Israel has assigned large budgets and made ??every effort above and beyond what is required by the law in order to allow the Bedouin to move to legal communities.
BEDOUIN MYTH #3 – Are there only 45 unrecognised villages?
Written by regavim on December 16, 2013. Posted in Bedouin Myths, Negev,
Another myth speaks of the existence of only 45 villages where tens of thousands of people live. Their present tactic is to claim that the Negev is a huge territory and “all we are talking about is the recognition of only 45 villages,” as stated in a position paper circulated by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) , Bimkom, and the Council of the Unrecognized Villages, which claims that the institutional recognition and legal organization of these “45 villages” would solve the prolonged dispute between the Bedouin and the State of Israel:
“The Goldberg commission has recognized that the main solution to the arrangement of Bedouin settlement is recognition of unrecognized villages, in order to prevent the deterioration of an already intolerable situation and to bring about an historic solution to the dispute. This is the central principle that stands at the heart of any solution, and we must follow it in order to bring about an agreement. As will be detailed below, this principle can be assimilated in relation to every unrecognized village in the Negev.” 1
The Bedouin connect this claim to 45 points on the map of the Negev (See the 45 blue dotes on the map published by the Council of Unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev). What they neglect, to tell us is that these points are attached to thousands of clusters of structures spread all across the Northern Negev, in the area between Beersheva, Arad and Dimona, creating one large contiguous territory of illegal Bedouin villages.
45 Bedouin Villages
A bird’s eye view over the village of “Al-Ara”, one of the blue dots on the previous map (south of the town of Kseifa), with the help of “zoom in” and “zoom out” functions (which can be easily replicated in Google Earth), reveals that spread across the Northern Negev are actually thousands of clusters of Bedouin residences in various stages of development.
The red markings on the following photographs are polygons indicating illegal construction clusters containing three or more structures placed together. As you zoom out, thousands of these small areas merge together to create the most accurate picture of Bedouin settlement in the Northern Negev. In comparison using the points on the previous map is not an effective method to get an accurate picture of the number of Bedouin villages.
The below map shows the overlay the 45 blue dots from the previous map on an aerial photo including the actual Bedouin settlement areas described above.
Conclusion: Aerial photography proves conclusively that the claim of “only 45 villages” has no basis in reality. The ‘Regavim’ investigation as signified by the red layer of markings on the aerial photography points to the existence of over 2000 villages/clusters/hamlets.
Bedouin Myth #2 – Are the Bedouin Villages Historical?
Written by regavim on December 16, 2013
In the past few years, the Bedouin of the Negev and extreme left Non-Government organizations (NGO’s) have repeatedly claimed that most of the Bedouin villages are “historical” and that Bedouin have inhabited these villages since before the creation of the State of Israel. Take, for example, the Joint Position Paper: Bill on Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, of May 2013, sent by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and Bimkom, to the Ministerial Committee for Legislation regarding the proposed Law for the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev, 5773-2013.
“About half of the Bedouin population in the Negev, around 90,000 people, live in close to 46 Bedouin villages, the majority of which (around 35 villages) the State of Israel refuses to recognize and arrange for their planning and/or municipalities. The majority of these villages existed before the birth of the State of Israel, and a number of them were established in the 1950’s, a time when the agencies of the State moved the Bedouin population from their ancestral territory under their ownership and/or control, to a smaller area in the northeastern Negev, termed a restricted area. In contradiction to the impression widespread among the Israeli public, the Bedouin are not intruders, but are rather the original inhabitants of the Negev, and they have the rights of ownership to the lands that they have worked and occupied. Among them are people who continue to live on their lands where they have lived for a long time before the creation of the state, and similarly are the internally displaced, who have been transferred from their historical lands to the restricted area by the State, as was stated. It may be emphasized that the Ottoman Empire as well as the British Mandate recognized the ownership rights of the Bedouin and the traditional methods by which they transferred ownership. Commensurate with this and based on this method of acquisition, lands were bought, and Jewish settlements were created in the Negev, such as Be’er Sheva, established on lands that were bought from the Bedouin in official transactions. (Emphasis added)
The Bedouin’s claim of “historical villages” is proven to be a myth by the use of historical aerial photographs. Tens of aerial photographs of these so-called “historical” villages have been examined. Below are examples of aerial photos used to examine this “historical” claim for 5 Bedouin villages.(4)
No one is denying that there were nomadic tribes living in the Negev prior to 1948, however due to the nature of these tribes, no permanent residences were established. There are signs of cultivation in the aerial photography that was examined but the form of farming used was seasonal, not long term, in order to supply feed for their herds as they moved from place to place.
(4) The aerial photographs taken prior to the establishment of the State of Israel were done by the British Authorities, and then transferred to the Government Center for the Mapping of Israel, which is the source for all aerial photographs contained herein.
The Village of Al Araqib
The illegal village of Al-Araqib is situated on state lands managed by the Israel Land Authority (ILA), about ten kilometers north of Be’er
Sheva. This village has been mentioned in numerous headlines, when Bedouin families who claim ownership of the land, repeatedly
trespassed into the area from which they had been evicted tens of times by the authorities. According to Bedouin from the A-Turi tribe,
they have lived in the areasince the Ottoman period, and were evicted from the area after the War of Independence by the Israeli Army,
with a promise that the eviction was only temporary. As evidence of the villages’ long history they point to a cemetery that they claim
The series of aerial photographs below, dating from 1945 to 2010, indicates that the reality is completely different.
From a photograph taken in 1965, it is indeed possible to see the cemetery in its first stages, yet there is neither a village
nor anything that looks like a village visible. In a photograph from 1956, the cemetery does not exist at all. So too the imagery from
1945, 3 years before the establishment of the State of Israel.
Al-Araqib 2010 – Cemetery and village.
Al-Araqib 1989 – Cemetery, no village.
Al-Araqib 1965 – No cemetery, no village
Al-Araqib 1956 – No Cemetery, No village
The area where Al-Araqib is today, in 1945 no village or cemetery whatsoever.
Conclusion: The “historic” village Al Araqib, which the Bedouin claim was established during the Ottoman period, was built in the
end of the 1990’s and thereafter. The aerial photos from 1956 & 1945 has disproved the claim of the A-Turi clan that this location
was a village prior to 1965.
The Beersheba district court accepted Prof. Ruth Kark’s analysis to this end during the trial of Al Araqib.
Some other examples of so-called” historic” Bedouin villages.
The village of Al Sira
The above aerial photos speak for themselves, without the need for further explanations. It is fairly easy to identify
the land described in the photographs when set side by side, in order to understand simply that the claim voiced
day and night that “our villages were here even before the founding of the state”, is an ongoing falsity.