High Court to state: Broaden plan to defend southern Beduins
by YONAH JEREMY BOB, Jerusalem Post
The High Court of Justice suggested to the state on Monday that it broaden its plans for defending southern Beduin from rocket attacks. The state should place more bomb shelters near key public locations such as schools and other public buildings, and report back on the issue within 60 days, the court said.
These suggestions came after the state—in what the Association for Civil Rights in Israel is calling a “historic first”—announced at the Monday hearing that it was willing in principle to place bomb shelters in Beduin villages in the South, including some that are not legally recognized.
ACRI took credit on Monday for the state’s willingness to add bomb shelters and the High Court’s more specific push to do so in key areas; the NGO had filed a petition to that effect during the 2014 Gaza war, after some Beduin civilians were killed by Hamas rockets in areas with no bomb shelters. A press release by the NGO said that “until this time, Beduin citizens residing in these villages have had no safe place to hide from rocket attacks.”
ACRI recalled that the state and the High Court had initially rejected the petition. The petitioners were Omar al-Wakili, the uncle of Maram and Asil Wakili—11 and 13 years old respectively—who were wounded after a rocket fell on their village. Two days after the petition was filed, 32-year-old Auda al-Wadj was killed in a rocket explosion that wounded five members of his family, including a newborn infant, said ACRI.
The NGO said that its petition defended the right to life and physical integrity and demanded that the state defend all of its citizens equally. It deals with 46 villages, 35 of which the state does not recognize.
The court said Monday that the state had a duty to distribute resources equally among the population—a statement that ACRI said paved the way for “a judicial recommendation that could save lives.”
Responding to the High Court interim decision, ACRI attorney Nisreen Alyan declared that “the state has so far reneged on its obligation to supply quality protective measures to village residents. Hopefully it will use this period to formulate sufficient protective solutions for the 100,000 Beduin citizens who are still living under threat of rocket fire, and who have no places to run or hide.”
The Justice Ministry responded to the ruling, saying that the state’s and the High Court’s initial rejection of the 2014 petition had been based on security experts’ evaluation of limited resources for defending the home front. The assessment at the time, the ministry said, was that many areas considered more vulnerable than the Beduin villages were still undefended.
The ministry added that despite the High Court’s rejecting the immediate request to install bomb shelters, the state, at the court’s request, had undertaken a longer-term review of the possibility of installing bomb shelters in the Beduin villages. That review concluded in May.
Furthermore, the Justice Ministry said, the High Court’s ruling essentially validated the extensive work the state had already done on the issue, such as integrating the villages into the Iron Dome defense system’s protected space, and launching an educational campaign to better prepare the villagers for safety measures.
* This might be an ideal opportunity for the EU to offer an official supply of shelters, similar to their unofficial supply of several hundred pre-fab homes in Judea & Samaria. Further, the Scottish Government might wish to make a donation towards shelters for the Beduin, as they did for Gaza, showing their impartiality. Even the Church of Scotland could be asked to dig a little deeper into their pockets for such a humanitarian cause.
Scottish Friends of Israel