Sunday, as fighting escalated in the open prison grounds of Gazagrad, a desperate rocket, fired from the internment camp’s interior killed an Israeli Bedouin citizen. The Association for Human Rights in Israel reports:
In Israel, two civilians have been killed. One was a Bedouin, the 32-year-old Oudi Lafi al-Waj, who lived in an unrecognized village in the Negev (Naqab) desert, near Dimona. Several Bedouin children have also been injured by rocket fire since Israel began ‘Operation Protective Edge.‘ Bedouin villages do not have air raid sirens, nor are they covered by Iron Dome. They also lack bomb shelters. In the wake of al-Waj’s death, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, a non-governmental organization, ‘submitted an urgent request’ this morning to the Israeli High Court for an answer on the petition the organization filed last week requesting that the state provide bomb shelters for the Bedouin. But in a Sunday hearing at Israel’s High Court, the ‘state expressed its position that there is no need to provide additional protective facilities to these communities, and advised the Bedouin residents to protect themselves by lying on the ground,’ ACRI reports. The organization added that ‘officials claimed that protecting the Bedouin villages was a low priority.’ [emphasis added]
Part of the reason these non-Jewish, second-class citizens of the apartheid state are being advised to “lie on the ground” is that if they were to build adequate bomb shelters in their villages, they would most likely be demolished by Israeli police or military forces:
In the State’s formal pleadings to the court, it claimed that the responsibility to provide protective facilities rests primarily on homeowners, but did not refer to the fact that most of the houses in these communities are simple shacks that are particularly vulnerable to damage and provide no protection. They also did not refer to the fact that the current legal situation forbids any construction in these communities and that any construction would be subject to a demolition order. [emphasis added]
Writer Max Blumenthal has been among the most assiduous in gathering evidence of longtime Israeli racism and institutional apartheid policies toward its Bedouin citizens. A small sample, from February, 2011:
Yesterday morning, the Bedouin village of Al Arakib withstood the 18th pogrom against it by the Jewish National Fund and Israeli riot police. I mentioned in my last post that I would begin promoting actions to hold the Jewish National Fund accountable for violently ethnic cleansing Al Arakib in order to build the GOD TV Forest of Hate. Now here is something everyone who reads this blog (minus the professional hasbara trolls) can and should do: Join the Jewish Voice for Peace call in campaign to demand that the JNF cease demolishing villages like Al Arakib. Tell your local JNF office to stop the pogroms against the indigenous population of the Negev. To be sure, this is a minor action that will probably yield only dismissive responses from JNF representatives, but it is important to apply pressure and get them on the record.
In recent Firedoglake diaries about the ongoing assault on Gaza, several commenters have defended Israeli conduct. Please show up here, my deluded, Zionist friends, and explain how not providing protection to citizens in harm’s way because of their ethnic background does not constitute blatant and enduring apartheid?
In recent years, village residents and human rights organizations have turned repeatedly to the Ministry of Defence and the Home Front Command to provide protective facilities for these villages. Most of the letters were ignored. One of the responses provided to Physicians for Human Rights – Israel in 2009 explained that while advocacy activities were planned for village residents, there was no intention to provide any protective facilities to any Bedouin communities apart from Rahat [a Bedouin <strike>gated community</strike> forced relocation camp. [emphasis added]
At least Marie Antionette wanted France’s second class citizens to be able to “eat cake.” The Israeli High Court wants their Bedouin citizens to “eat dirt.”
It will be interesting to see how Israeli policies toward its other second class (i.e. – non-Jewish) citizens are influenced by the pressure of events in the wake of the current criminally disproportionate response to Palestinian rocket barrages.