My name is Jameel Hamadin. I’m a youth activist defending the rights of the Bedouin in the West Bank. I graduated from Hebron University as an agricultural engineer. I live at the Sea Level encampment, next to Al Khan al Ahmar. I am also a Bedouin, and a refugee of 1948.
Certainly my education is unusual among my fellow Bedouin, even though many are as able as I am to study. Most simply don’t have the opportunity to finish school. Or they don’t see the point in pursuing education because of the high level of unemployment in Bedouin communities.
I present today the most important problems and risks that our community is facing in the Jerusalem Periphery and Jordan Valley.
The Israeli authorities have issued demolition orders to most of our communities in Jerusalem Periphery and Jordan Valley, and recently demolished entire communities. They have destroyed our homes and left us out in the cold. Recently twenty one sheep or lambs have died in Az-Zayyem village, which was demolished entirely on 9/11. That destiny awaits dozens of our communities in Area C. Also there are 3,000 demolition orders outstanding for homes and schools and animal shelters. This is ethnic cleansing of our people which is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and the human rights which ensure freedom of the individual to move and live, and also prohibits the destruction of property.
The Occupation authorities are planning to displace us forcibly to places like Nuweimeh or next to the garbage dump in Abu Dis in order to expand the settlements and implementation of the E-1 Plan. We Bedouin communities reject the plans for the following reasons:
These areas do not suit our lifestyle or our traditions or our culture, so will lead to the destruction of our society.
It will end our traditional way of life that depends on livestock. Nomadic lifestyle has a system of privacy so one tribe cannot be mixed with another in one place.
If they deport us to the city, our lifestyle will end. So either we want to stay where we are or go back to the Negev, to our lands there, from before 1948.
We suffer from difficult economic conditions, including access to grazing lands and water sources, because of expansion of the settlements and the closed military zones. Also the Separation Wall prevents us from access to Jerusalem, which was our main market for selling our products.
In our Bedouin communities, we are not allowed to build the simplest type of homes, made of wood or aluminium sheeting, to protect our children from the cold and the hot summers. We also suffer from lack of infrastructure, electricity, and running water. Also we suffer from lack of access to roads and problems getting children to schools and medical centres, resulting in a high rate of poverty and unemployment, and a low level of education. Many families have lost their sources of income because of the closure of the territory, so we cannot use these lands for our sheep and goats.
We the Bedouin in the West Bank, an isolated minority, and refugees, demand the following:
- We call on the international community to put more pressure on Israel to stop demolition of our communities, animal shelters, homes and schools.
- We call for the international community to offer protection to stop the displacement plans and we demand the Israeli authorities consult and discuss with us anything to do with our future through our lawyers.
- We call for respect for our rights as indigenous Bedouin to choose the places where we live or where we go.
- We demand the provision of basic services, including education, adequate housing and health care.