The Negev Bedouin and Recent Gaza Rocket Attacks

The Negev Bedouin and Recent Gaza Rocket Attacks

May 8, 2019

News imageA Bedouin citizen was among the four Israelis killed as a result of the 690 rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. While most of the media reports focused on hits to Israel's larger Jewish communities such as Ashkelon, Beer Sheva and Sderot, the rockets and missiles also hit Bedouin localities including Laqiya and Rahat, with others falling in open areas near and between Bedouin towns and unrecognized villages.

One of the Israeli citizens killed in the recent round of escalations is Zaid Al-Hamamda, a 47 year-old Bedouin from the unrecognized village of Sawian near Segev Shalom and a father of seven. He was killed when a rocket hit the factory in Ashkelon where he worked. His family members said they "pray in these days of the beginning of the Holy month of Ramadan…that neither Jewish nor Arab children are hit as a result of this escalation…although we have no means of protection and no one is taking care of us or warning us [from the attacks], we tell our kids to always try and take cover when they hear the siren." (Hebrew)

On May 6, President Reuven Rivlin visited the families of Israelis killed in the attacks, including the family of Al-Hamamda's at his home. President Rivlin acknowledged the diverse backgrounds of the victims, stating: "We, the tribes of Israel, are together in good times and bad, in hope and in difficulty, regardless of which tribe we are from. Ultra-Orthodox, secular, religious and traditional, Jews and Arabs – terror strikes us all without discrimination and without mercy, and we will never surrender to it. We are together in celebration and in consolation." 

Activists in the Negev report that the attacks were acutely felt in the Bedouin community, with the sound of rockets and numerous close hits creating considerable fear and worry among the Bedouin population, especially children. Although schools within 25 miles of the Gaza border were closed as a safety measure, Bedouin localities do not have bomb shelters or safe spaces where residents may take refuge, including dozens of unrecognized villages as well as the six villages and the Bedouin city of Rahat established by the state. Some remote villages are not within earshot of warning sirens. Colleges and universities in the south, where the vast majority of Bedouin students are enrolled, were also closed for two days.

Kher Elbaz, co-director of AJEEC-NISPED, the largest Jewish-Arab organization in the Negev, says that while creating much anxiety, the attacks also create a sense of solidarity and empathy between the Negev's Bedouin and Jewish activists and among the organization's staff members coming from the two communities. While in the clashes of 2014, Jewish-Bedouin relations in the south were extremely tense and took many months to return to normal, it seems that the short duration of the current round prevented such tensions from rising.

More Stories

Hear from Dr. Mohammed Alnabari, Mayor of the Bedouin city of Hura, and Professor Omri Yadlin, President of Sapir College, ab ...
Bedouin children, elderly and disabled residents of Rahat and other Bedouin towns in the Negev receiving some help and respit ...