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Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Bedouin communities in the Negev desert have been under siege. Yet as home demolitions and Israeli military attacks in the occupied Palestinian territories grab headlines, some in the Bedouin communities inside Israel say their situation is comparable -- if not sometimes worse -- than that in Gaza and the West Bank.
At about 10.30pm every night, al-Menm tells IPS, Israeli forces lock the entrance to the village, effectively imprisoning the approximately 4,000 residents inside until guards unlock the gate in the morning.
Menm describes this act as collective punishment of the villagers for not leaving the land. "We are citizens of the state of Israel, and this is how they treat us. We pay taxes, we vote, and yet we don't have running water or electricity, and they have not provided our community with schools or any services."
What happened recently in Taweel abu Jabral is a regular occurrence across the Bedouin villages in the Negev. Three weeks ago, Menm tells IPS, hundreds of Israeli police and security services came with dogs, bulldozers and weapons during a home demolition operation. "There is violence almost on a daily basis. They come and harass us. What can we do against them? How do we protect ourselves, as citizens of the state? Does this look like the democracy of the Middle East that they talk about?"
East of the Israeli town of Beersheba lies the unrecognised village of Wadi Niyam. An acrid, stinging smell permeates this area, where hundreds of tin-walled shanty huts perch on the stubby, dry hillsides. Sawalha tells IPS that 17 chemical plants were built west of this village in the 1970s in an area called Ramat Hovav. North of the village, an enormous electricity plant emits an audible hum, and to the south, Israel has built several military industrial parks.
"The Israeli Ministry of Health confessed to the people that this area is very polluted and toxic," Abu Affash tells IPS. "We suffer from serious cancer problems to the simplest illnesses. Nearly all of the children here have asthma. The women have regular miscarriages. We have skin problems, such as rashes and lesions, eye diseases, stomach problems, nauseous reactions to the toxic smells.
Originally posted by khunmoon
After searching the web for half a day on reports about the situation of the Bedouins, I've only been able to find this BBC feature.
It's worth watching.