Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai desert to its international borders in the wake of the peace treaty with Egypt has brought its own problems.
Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai desert to its international borders in the wake of the peace treaty with Egypt has brought its own problems. More than one hundred and fifty bases and camps are having to be dismantled from Sinai and redeployed in the Negev desert. But the transfer of air bases is bringing the Israeli Government into conflict with the country's forty thousand Bedouins. Five policemen were injured and eleven Bedoun detained in demonstrations on Wednesday (4 April).
SYNOPSIS: Only a minority of Israel's Bedouins continue to lead a nomadic life, most have settled and farm or raise animals. A large proportion are Israeli citizens and their sons serve in the Israeli armed forces.
The overwhelming majority of Israeli Bedouins live in the southern Negev Desert. Many are abandoning their livestock and turning to agriculture.
Now they may be on the move again -- only this time against their will.
Their traditional tribal system has led the Bedouin to ignore Israeli regulations regarding land registration. Now the Israeli authorities will not recognise Bedouin documents in respect of their land.
Disputes between the authorities wishing to shift Bedouin settlements have been a long standing Israeli problem. This has been heightened by the need to squeeze new military bases into the conflicts of the Negev.
The Israeli authorities have settled the Negev Bedouins in permanent villages and towns. Every Bedouin child is compelled to attend school.
Lack of pastures in the arid Negev has forced many Bedouin to sell their cattle and sheep and invest money in wheat. Their traditional way of life, making way for the military. An estimated ninety million square metres of ground will be levelled for the new bases and roads.
Bedouin homes have already been demolished for the first of the new airbases. And they claim the authorities are offering only token compensation for the eight million square metres needed for the airbase. About six thousand Bedouin will be affected. The government wants to give each Bedouin five thousand square metres in new town settlements, with limited water rights. The Bedouin say the government refuses to negotiate and the offer is insufficient.