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Clans from five tribes of the Negev Bedouin entered the West Bank seeking refugee status with UNRWA following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. As with all refugee communities, each tribe has its own historical account of the steps which led to its expulsion and its subsequent plight. The Jahalin Tribe is the largest refugee tribe in the West Bank today.

Bedouin from the Sea Level Community, near Jericho, July 2014. Photo by Jens Schwarz.
Bedouin from the Sea Level Community, near Jericho, July 2014. Photo by Jens Schwarz.

The Bedouin of the Jahalin Tribe originate from the Tel Arad district of the Negev desert. Their traditional tribal territory ranges from 50km north‐east of Bir Sheva to 30km west of the Dead Sea and 30km south of Hebron City. Tribal history relates that from 1949 the Israeli Authorities began a campaign of forced evacuation against the Bedouin in the Tel Arad region. Refusing to collaborate with the IDF, the Jahalin came under increasing pressure from the Israeli forces to leave their lands. Physical and psychological violence increased, resulting in the demolition and burning of homes and the fatal shootings of at least five of the Jahalin by Israeli troops. Following the shootings and ongoing violence, the Jahalin Tribe fled their tribal territories to the edges of the Negev, before moving into Jordan and the West Bank, seeking refugee status with UNRWA in the early 1950s.

The Jahalin Association (Nabi Samwel)

The Jahalin Association (Nabi Samwel) represents an initiative of Bedouin Jahalin, Israeli, Palestinian and international civil society which is dedicated to protecting the rights of us Jahalin Bedouin. We, the Jahalin Bedouin, face forced eviction by the Israeli military. The Jahalin Association (Nabi Samwel) is working to support us in our struggle to stay where we have lived for the past 60 years in the Jerusalem periphery. We demand accountability for our basic human rights.

Mission Statement

The Jahalin Association’s mission is to prevent the forced displacement of its stakeholders through effective public and legal advocacy (including to the PA) and through community capacity building.

Children from the Sea Level Bedouin Community, July 2014. Photo by Jens Schwarz.
Children from the Sea Level Bedouin Community, July 2014. Photo by Jens Schwarz.

Our strategy has four pillars of action:

  • Mobilize an effective emergency advocacy response to the threat using external experts working side-by-side with Jahalin spokespeople;
  • Leverage others’ experience to develop community independence through intensive capacity-building;
  • Enhance community resilience by improving their ability to earn, by developing income generating projects and by safeguarding their traditional knowledge;
  • Keep community interests uppermost and to work strategically to achieve those interests.