Regavim Slams Plan to Supply Water to Illegal Bedouin Homes

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Bedouin walks in the Negev desert near the village of al-Sira. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Residents of all Bedouin villages in the Negev, illegal and otherwise, will be connected to Israel’s water supply, the government authority on Bedouin villages announced Wednesday. Until now, most of the villages had been connected to wells, with just a few of the villages connected to the National Water Carrier. Installation of water infrastructure will take place in the coming months, Israel Radio said Wednesday.

Many of the villages are illegally built on government land – and the decision, the Regavim organization said in response, is essentially a reward for illegal behavior. “Ten years ago, the High Court ruled that Israel had to supply water to villages, but that the water would be transported from spouts installed next to highways to their homes,” said the organization, which is a watchdog group dealing with illegal Arab building. The idea was to ensure that residents of the villages had access to water, but the court was careful not to order water connections to the homes of the Bedouins, which were illegally built.

With its decision, the Bedouin Settlement Authority on Wednesday “codified the illegal building of residents by announcing that it would provide water infrastructure to the homes of the Bedouins. Until now, the prospect of running water in their homes was an incentive to encourage Bedouins to move to the legally sanctioned towns and cities, and abandon their illegal homes,” which are built on state land or land used by the IDF for exercises. “We have heard from Bedouins that the water issue is a major problem for them. They managed with the old system for a decade, but now that has changed,” and for the worse, the organization said.

The Authority did not respond to a request by Ma’ariv for comment.