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Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality

Phone: (+972) 08-6483804

POB 130 Omer 8496500
Negev Coexistence Forum | forumdukium | @forumdukium

Photo on cover taken by: Aḥlām Abū Khuṭṭī

Project:Through a Child’s Lens, Workshops in Khasim Zannih

Dear Friends,

On Behalf of the Negev Coexistence Forum, I would like to express my appreciation for your
continued support in 2017. The situation of human rights kept deteriorating and was difficult for

human rights organizations like NCF and many others. The atmosphere in Israel became more
nationalist over 2017 and the Palestinian community in Israel and the Arab-Bedouin citizens of

the Naqab-Negev was deeply affected, especially after the Umm al Hiran events and the killing
of Yacob Abu al-Qiʿān and the officer Erez Levi Amedi in a demolition at the beginning of the

year. The State policy and State apparatuses continued to be harsh and racist toward the
Palestinian community in Israel. The demolitions of houses in the Naqab-Negev continued and

create anxiety and despair among thousands of Arab Bedouin that were affected directly by
demolitions. 1098 of the demolitions this year were carried out by Bedouin themselves and some

without a demolition order because of the threat of a monetary penalty issued by local law
enforcement authorities.

The atmosphere of fear influenced the working environment for NCF’s staff and secretariat in

2017. The threat of losing NCF’s cultural center and home became real when Mr. Rubik
Danilovich, the mayor of Beer-Sheva asked NCF to leave its’ home in the bomb shelter provided

by the Municipality in December 24th. ACRI submitted an administrative petition in behalf of NCF
to the Court of Administrative issues. The case will be discussed in March 22 2018.

NCF continued to challenge the government’s harmful policies and practices and engage
Bedouin and Jewish Israelis in our joint struggle by a variety of means. We continued the work

on training Bedouin women and children in their communities in visual literacy so that they are
able to document their own lives and villages, and the human rights abuses which are

unfortunately a part of their everyday lives. The video project was strengthen and NCF uses
videos for advocacy purposes. Many tours, lectures, conferences and cultural meetings took place
at the initiative of NCF staff. The staff also took part in many Jewish-Arab demonstrations, vigils

and solidarity visits, as well as attending numerous court hearings in support of activists. We

carried out empirical research and documentation of human rights abuses, and published the
findings in several reports and NCF’s advocacy work was directed towards Israeli politicians and

ministers, as well as foreign diplomats in Israel, and groups from abroad. The international lobby
was successful with tours for Prof. James Anaya, the former special rapporteur for the rights

indigenous peoples, and Michel Forst the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights
defenders and a senator from Australia and many others from the embassies in Israel. Reports

were sent to the State Department and the UPR.

We believe that it is very important to continue to oppose Israel's currently prevailing racist,
discriminating and anti-democratic policies. We will remain diligent in our struggle for a just and

equal Jewish-Arab society.


Haia Noach Executive Director

The last few years have been increasingly difficult for the Bedouin communities living in the
Negev-Naqab, and 2017 has not been an exception. This, as the state refuses to provide a true
and just solution for the Bedouins, safeguarding their civil rights and addressing their claims to
their lands. Rather, the state has chosen to act to disposes the communities one by one, village
by village. Sometimes providing “excuses” or rationale for the forced eviction (i.e phosphate mine
or military zones) and sometimes, such as in the case of Umm al-Ḥīrān, doesn’t even bother to
hide its racist motives and evicts Bedouins to re-settle Jews on the land.

Today, Thousands of indigenous Bedouins are under threats of displacement, threats of losing
their homes. Even those living in localities recognized by the state in the early 2000s are not
immune from the massive home demolition that authorities carry out. This while not offering the
communities an opportunity to get building permits and hence criminalizing an entire minority

The ruling ideology of concentrating as many Bedouins in as small as possible portions of the
land, meaning in planned towns, is the ideology behind the mass violations of human rights that
are installed. Denial of access to services has been a routine for thousands of citizens. Data by
the Central Bureau of Statistics indicates that all the Bedouin municipalities and councils are at
the lowest socio-economic ranks, making the Bedouin population the poorest in the country.

On January 18 2017, the authorities entered the unrecognized village of Umm al-Ḥīrān , a village
with a long standing relationship with us. Photos taken by a Yusawiruna participant (wishing to
remain anonymous) told the story of that raid, leading to demolition of homes and to the tragic
killing of Yaaqob Abu al-Qiʿān and a policeman. Abu al-Qiʿān was falsely labeled a terrorist and
the entire village has been the center of dangerous hate-speech by officials. The resident
continued their resistance to the racist uproot and held protest vigil and tents through the year.
In solidarity with them, thousands marched in Be’er Sheva and Tel Aviv that January.

During the summer, different Bedouins communities were inspired to continue their resistance,
and to escalate it. New villages began to stand up for their safety, their lands and their right to

In 2017 we faced many challenges in working to fulfill our mission
and offered support to the changing reality on the ground as well
as offer political analysis and action. One challenge was limitation
in resources and available staff members. Another challenge was
the increasingly challenging political atmosphere targeting human
rights, left-wing and shared-society groups. We were once again
the target of right-wing pressure to close down our Cultural Center
Multaqa-Mifgash for facilitating leftist events. The pressure on the
Be’er Sheva Municipality worked and they are now trying to evict
us from the city bomb-shelter we called home for the last 12 years.
We are resisting the shrinking of space, knowing that this is not
just about us- it is about democracy, pluralism, and the right to live
here together Arab and Jews and act for equality and justice.
Those right wing provocateurs are working to divert us from our
goal and make us want to spend time and resources fighting it,
and we understand this and do our best to continue with our
routine work of resisting discriminatory policies This is the reason
it was so meaningful for us that so many of you stood by us, and
we truly appreciate it!

Through the year, we worked to establish a new area of focus:

Bedouin women’s equal access to employment and employment
opportunities. Following much work with Bedouin women living in
the unrecognized villages in the past, we understood that the
intended impoverishment of the Bedouin communities is partly
because of the denial of employment opportunities and disregard for the barriers women
encountered when wishing to work. While the state has committed to increase the percentage of
Arab Palestinian women employed to 41% until 2020, it has failed to even increase it to 25%
among the Arab Bedouin women until 2016. through the last to government development
programs. We carried out research, survey of needs, met with people working in this field and
even took it to the Knesset. And this is just the beginning.

Photo by; Ṣabriyyeh al-Ṣaġāyreh, Rakhame, Yusawiruna Project

In 2017, our research and advocacy team collected and analyzed data on human rights violations in the
Naqab-Negev, aiming to better understand and inform others about the policies and the toll they took on
the communities on the ground. Much of the topics of research were created following consultations with
members of the Bedouin communities, their priorities and in consideration the
political events occurring.

In January, we launched “Discrimination in Numbers: Collection of Statistical

Data”. The collection exposes and make accessible data about income,
education, employment, population estimates and housing opportunities in
settlements, which all paint a troubling picture of the abuse of rights of the

In September, we launched the annual home demolitions report with new

information about the home demolition polices that effect the life of most
Bedouin residents of Israel, in towns and villages recognized and
unrecognized. The report, titled “Negotiation’ Under Fire” featured
troubling numbers such as the fact that in 2016 1,158 structures were
demolished in the Negev-Naqab. It also features an analysis of incidents
in which the enforcement of the Planning and Construction laws (i.e
demolitions) encouraged settling of land claims, and vice versa. The
report clearly demonstrated that home demolitions is a political tool
to grab land and dispose the community.

The information behind our reports was gathered in collaboration with

Bedouin residents; through analysis of state reports and data published, such as that of the
Central Bureau of Statistics; requests for information from government bodies and testimonies from the
residents. This year, we also excelled in collaboration with Members of Knesset who filed over 30 plenums
on our behalf to different ministers and ministries to expose additional policy related information.

Much of our work is to educate public awareness to the Bedouin cause, alter negative stereotypes and offer
human rights discourses on the current events affecting lives of thousands outside the mainstream. Today,
social media is a main outlet allowing that to happen. Social media helped us bring the real story of the
events of January 2017 in Umm al-Ḥīrān live as they were happening, in contrast to the police false version.
Through social media we brought hundreds thousands of views to videos of home and village demolitions,
published photos and infographics on the Bedouin children’s equal access to education, and gave voice to
our partners on the ground.

Negev Coexistence Forum forumdukium forumdukium

In 2017, our media team engaged with journalists inspiring them to publish stories about the changing
realities of the Bedouin communities, about home demolitions, clashed with authorities and the effects of
the often unnoticed discriminatory policies of the government. Many times, we helped providing local
connections and background information suitable for their needs.

We were featured in 95 articles on Arabic, Hebrew and English in 2017!

Unfortunately, much the media attention we received this year was not due to our success on the ground
and did not have much to do with our main work to ensure equality for the Bedouins. We were a center of
local and national attention due to right wing attempts to close down our cultural center. We did our best
to use the publications to speak our values and raise the profile of our struggle in full.

“On the Map”, our online map of the unrecognized Bedouin villages
grew bigger in 2017, with added information, pictures and new
historical landmarks now on the map. The map, launched in 2015,
aimed to increase the visibility of villages unrecognized by the
state and absent from all official maps and data. Resources
regarding access to infrastructures and state services, brief
histories, plans that threaten the future of these villages, and
photos and videos documenting the lives in the villages are all available to the public at

Every day, the team works hard to inform various publics about the reality in the Bedouin Naqab and to
mobilize actions alongside the communities for their rights. We work with local Negev-Naqab crowds,
various Hebrew-speaking groups from all
over the country as well as different
international groups and peers. Following
the dire events that took place in Umm al-
Ḥīrān in January 2017, the incitement
against the Bedouin grew bigger and
inflicted more and more sectors of the
Israeli society with racism towards the
Bedouins. We worked hard to counter the
lies and stereotypes uniformed officials

Through Alternative Naqab-Negev Tours

we were able to show 733 people the
perspective of the Bedouin communities,
and to often allow an encounter and the breaking of barriers. 733 witnessed the effects of a reality of home
demolitions, forced relocation and lack of crucial services and infrastructure. Many of whom, later joined
our mailing lists and even follow up activities.

Those unable to join tours, joined us in lectures and workshops here and abroad. We gave briefings, lectures
and talks to 803 people in Israel, France and the UK. Photos taken by members of the Bedouin communities
working alongside us, as well as video, offered an additional testimony to what is happening on the ground
and was often used in the events.

3 Solidarity visits took place that year. Nearly 100 individuals joined 2 solidary tours in Umm al-Ḥīrān in
January and February, and we were able to bring 40 additional participants to Al-ʿArāgīb ’s 7 years
anniversary to the first demolition events in August.

In 2017 we worked tirelessly to support the protests, vigils and tents activities of the Bedouin communities.
On one hand, we joined events or co-organized them, and on the other we worked to inform activists of
their rights and support them in the process of expressing their resistance with our knowledge and

The latter only made possible through ongoing connection with activists and taking a real interest in the
daily lives of the villages, as well as continuing to work to connect with more community leaders and
activists working to protect their rights. This year, we supported activists as they stood their grounds and
as they organized protests. We kept a daily touch with villages like Al-ʿArāgīb , Umm al-Ḥīrān, Bir Haddaj’
and others. We carried out open trainings for activists, where many community leaders joined in to learn
more about ways to defend their rights. One of such events, an Activestills and ACRI event about better
documenting demonstrations, was a pretty successful event that was one of targets of right wing

We participated and organized in 74 demonstrations, vigils and visited protest tents throughout the year in
villages like Al-Furah, Abdeh, ‘Atir, Umm Batin and others. Sometimes we organized them ourselves. We
were there alongside communities as they stood strong for their rights, not once helping them making it
happen, but only behind the scenes.

2017 gave new recognition and esteem to the Yusawiruna-
Photographing for Human Rights participants from the
unrecognized villages. They were able to showcase their
work in important and diverse venues in Israel and even in
London, and that way to tell their own stories and educate of
their realities through their own eyes.

Photo Exhibitions presented in Lush

Summit, London ; Negev Knesset Day;
Photo IS:REAL International Photography
Festival; Solidary Film Festival in Tel Aviv
The participants continued to bravely photograph their daily
lives, their reality of rights abused and their threats if
dispossession. They photographed through home demolitions and village raids, photographed through
demonstrations and vigils, in their villages as warrants were passed out, and in their homes in searching
for better times.

In December, a new photo

exhibition and collection was
launched, featuring a
collection of pictures chosen
by the photographers from
their massive body of work,
and featuring photographs
and stories of the women
behind their camera, how
photography affected their
lives and the future they want
for their children.

Through a Child’s Lens is our visual literacy project for children residing in the
unrecognized villages, in which they photograph their lives and their villages, taking an
active role in telling the stories of their communities. In January, we facilitated two
incredible and deep workshops for children in Az-Zarnoug and Khasim Zanih, where
the children leaned to use the camera as a tool for social Equality. In September, we
launched a calendar showcasing photographs they took through meetings, telling a
different narrative of living in an unrecognized village.

Through the year, we worked with groups of young photographers from 7 different
villages and with over 50 children who document their lives.

25 video-photographers from all over the Negev-Naqab participated in our video training project
Recognized, producing and filming inspiring videos to help spread the stories of their villages as well as
resist the abuse of their rights. Their short videos, documenting key issues in the struggle such as the lack
of electricity and government services, and the daily life in the unrecognized villages , were tremendously
viral on social media and generated a great deal of pride for the community. Videos showcasing
demolitions or police violence and arrests were meaningful as well, reaching tens of thousands of users
on social media and bringing what used to be small isolated incidents to the public’s knowledge. This year,
videos taken by the project participants were screened at Photo Is:Real- International Photography Festival
and the Solidarity Film Festival, both in Tel Aviv.

Amongst the great videos made through the project, was Said Gaboa’s short video about his village al-
Furah, threatened by a phosphate mine. Another were a short video by Nura al-Azzazmeh from Rakhame,
filming the traditional pita and how it is made, and a video about the 108 th demolition of Al-ʿArāgīb by
Sabah Abu-Medigem and Michal Rotem.

With a newly increased strategic lobby and advocacy program, in 2017
our international advocacy reached new peaks and mastered new
connections. Through the year, we met with dozens of foreign
diplomats and briefed them about the threats the Naqab Bedouins
were facing and encouraged them to act in different ways to raise
the voices and needs of the communities to those in power. Many
wished to take action to support Umm al-Ḥīrān following the
horrendous events of January 2017. Diplomatic missions from
Australia, Germany, The United States, Britain, Switzerland, and
more joined us in learning tours about the community and in encounters with
Bedouin activists and leaders. Furthermore, we toured with two UN special rapporteurs- Prof.
James Anaya, Former Special Rapporteur for Indigenous peoples, and Prof. Michel Frost, Special
Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders.

Khalil Alamour, co-chair of our board, represented us and the Bedouin communities in two advocacy tours.
The first in July to the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva where he gave
speech about the challenges the Bedouins faced this year. Later, Khalil traveled to France where 530 people
joined his lectures, and he also met with two Members of European Parliament.

As an organization with a consultative status to the Economic and Social

Committee of the UN, we normally produce reports about the human rights
situation of the Bedouin communities brining into international attention
issues affecting the poorest community in Israel. In June, we coordinated the
production of a joint NGO report to the Universal Periodic Review on Israel
took place in January 2018, and submitted it with our partners The Regional
Council for the Unrecognized Villages, Al-Huquq and Sidreh.

This year, we mastered our local lobby program some more, and worked hard to get the attention of state
officials and Knesset Members to encourage them to act for the rights of the Bedouin communities. We
stayed in routine touch with Members of Knesset from various parties, namely the Joint List, Meretz, Zionist
Camp, Kulanu and Yesh Atid on issues varying from the state’s new economic development program,
access to kindergarten services, access to water, home demolitions and recognition of unrecognized
villages. In July, we acted to include Bedouin villages on a new geographic council taking shape. In
September and October, we worked to gather evidence and support MK Aida Touma-Suliman’s attempts
to understand why the citizenships of Bedouins are randomly revoked.

In October, we helped organize The

Knesset Negev Day – a day full of
committee discussions on issues
regarding the rights of the Bedouin
communities in the Negev-Naqab.
We lead a discussion on Women’s
Employment in the committee for the
Advancement of the Status of Women and
Gender Equality headed by Mk Aida
Touma-Suliman, presented our findings on
the topic, helped members of the
community join and participate and
presented our Yusawiruna photo

Through the year, we used Members of Knesset to file Pelnums: Parlimentary Questions. MKs Bahloul,
Khenin, Azbarga and Jabareen all submitted questions to different ministers at NCF’s requests. Almost 30
Pelnums were submitted on various topics such as land rights; the founding of a Bedouin environmental
government corporation; kindergarten for the 5000 Bedouin children missing educational institutions; the
planned Jewish localities Daya and Neve Gurion (planned to be built on top of Bedouin villages); children’s
bus shuttles; the future planning of the villages Rakhame and Katamat and more.

Finally, Many members of Knesset stood up alongside us in support of the Multaqa-Mifgash and against
the silencing attempts.

Photo by; Huda Abu al-Qian, ‘Atir,, Yusawiruna Project

Haia Noach | Executive Director

Michal Rotem | International Lobby Coordinator, Narrative Documentation Coordinator

Sabreen Abu-Kaf |Visual Documentation Project Manager

Basma Abu Khuty | Photography Documentation Coordinator

Lihed Adam | Multaqa-Mifgash Coordinator

Ben Fargeon | Administrative Coordinator, Research Assistant

Arnon Peleg | Public Advocacy Coordinator

Bashir Al Ziadna | Freedom of Protest Coordinator

Nura al Sagheira | Field Documentation Coordinator

Abeer Alatrash | Archivist

Shahaf Weisbein | Resource Development Coordinator

Prof. Avner Ben Amon; Khalil Alamour; Yaaqov Manor ; Yehudit Keshet; Attorney Sana Ibn Bari ;
Adel al-Gafeer; Dr Younes Abu Rabia | Members of The Board

David de Leeuw, Nasser Abu Srihan | Control Committee