Displaced, occupied, and displaced again: Bedouin refugees in the West Bank

For the Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley that are regularly visited by MAP’s mobile clinic, displacement and dispossession have been part of life for more than sixty years.

Nearly all of these communities are refugees originating from the Jahalin tribe in the Negev desert, who were expelled from their lands following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The displaced people contracted leases with Palestinian landowners to settle down in the West Bank. The basis of their livelihood has largely remained the same over all those years. They are either herders that roam the area to graze the livestock, or farmers that need land to domesticate animals.

After the military occupation of the West Bank in 1967 by the Israeli forces, Israeli policies restricted their freedoms in the West Bank and strangled their livelihoods. Their movement is restricted by illegal settlements and outputs, closed military zones and checkpoints. Bedouin communities in Area C of the West Bank – the 60% of the territory which lies under direct Israeli civil and military control – also face the constant threat of demolitions to homes and structures. This year, such demolitions have escalated dramatically, with more structures demolished and people displaced in the first four months than the whole of 2015.

For 46 communities in the Jerusalem periphery and the Jordan Valley, the threat of becoming displaced once more is particularly acute since Israel launched a relocation plan to move 7,000 individuals to townships in order to expand the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. Due to the same settlement, the Israeli Civil Administration has destroyed homes and expelled some 190 families from their lands in the 1990s, forcing them to live near a landfill close to Abu Dis.

The photos below show just a few of those communities under threat:

Ara’rah – Khan Al Ahmar

A newly installed fence that could be closed at any time, obstructing access for the mobile clinic to five Bedouin communities

A little girl from Ara’rah plays with her mother’s scarf. Her grandmother in the background remembers the displacement from the Negev.

Zawahreh

The children of an extended families gather in the house of the community’s leader.

Khan Al Ahmar School Community

The Jahalin Bedouin Community built the school in 2009 using mud and tires as an alternative to the cement buildings which are effectively prohibited for Palestinians in Area C. The next nearest school is about 45 minutes away by car. This school has a pending demolition order after the settlers for the neighbouring settlements filed a petition in the Israeli High Court demanding its destruction. The inhabitants of the community are frequently harassed by the settlers and Israeli security forces, and are monitored frequently by drones.

Ras Ein Al Ouja

This community is located close to the Yitav settlement. On several occasions the settlers stole livestock from the Bedouins.

Trefaat community

Four sisters living together in the Trefaat community. A one-man settlement is nearby and regularly disturbs the children going to school.

Abu Nuwar community

This community lies in the Jerusalem periphery, and is under constant threat. As it is very close to the Ma’ale Adumim settlement they are under a lot of pressure to move, and the Civil Administration applies coercive measures. Since the beginning of 2016, there have been three incidents of dismantlement and confiscation and two incidents of demolition totalling 24 structures.

If you would like to support the MAP mobile clinic, which provides vital healthcare services to isolated Bedouin communities in the West Bank, please donate today!

 

Note: Community names used here are those used by our partner organisation on the mobile clinic project, and may differ from standard UN classification.

Featured image: A girl from the Bedouin community of Ara’rah. (All photos: Fleur Van Den Sande / MAP)