Most West Bank bedouin live in Area C, the largest of the three zones (70.2% of the whole) into which, at Oslo, Israeli maps divided the West Bank. It is also the zone where Israeli military control remains until the completion of final status negotiations. The PLO negotiators are said to have believed that Israeli phased withdrawal would ultimately include the whole West Bank except for a few military installations and settlements. If so, they were blind to the strategic nature of Area C, which forms a continuous belt surrounding the whole West Bank, interrupted only at Jerusalem, widest along the Jordan Valley, and penetrating between towns and villages. Its strategic purposes are clear: i) to separate the West Bank from Jordan and Palestinian-populated parts of Israel (Galilee and Negev); ii) to fragment the territory of an eventual Palestinian state; iii- to form a continuous space for movement of Israeli military and settlers. It is no coincidence that all but a few of around 145 Israeli settlements also lie in Area C, their location as strategic as that of Army installations and as likely to remain.

Barak's recent speech at the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim makes it clear that, far from dismantling the settlements, he intends to strengthen and expand them. There has been no pause in the rate of their expansion since Natanyahu  Only two weeks after the Sharm el- Sheikh accords (4 September), military orders closed around 120,000 dunums of land, mainly in Area C, citing security as pretext. This is reminiscent of the way that, after the restoration of Sinai to Egypt in 1979, Israel confiscated part of the only area left to Negev bedouin for the Tel- Malhata military airfield, evicting 750 families.

It is likely that any further Israeli redeployments made as part of the final settlement negotiations will be accompanied by similar confiscations and evictions. A researcher with the Israeli human rights association B'tselem affirms that Israel will want any part of Area C it retains to be empty  of Palestinians. Realists predict that Barak will insist on keeping most of Area C.

Since the beginning of Israeli military occupation in 1967, according to the Land Research Centre in Jerusalem 73% of the West Bank has been confiscated under various pretexts - military installations, training grounds, 'nature reserves'. Much of this confiscated or closed land has been made available to Israeli settlers, while bedouin have lost all or most of their grazing land. Their remaining flocks locked up in pens and fodder-fed, bedouin animal breeders bitterly contemplate the artificial forests planted in the name of 'nature', now inaccessible to them. Confiscation and heavy fines are an ever-present threat for animalowners.

Bedouin vulnerability to displacement arises primarily from Israel's use of military law in Area C, in direct contravention of the Geneva
conventions. But it is also linked to the nature of the land on which they live, and to the kind of relationship they have to it, land perceived as 'empty', not privately owned and not in use for crops. Just as in the Negev and Galilee, so in the occupied West Bank, Israel uses Ottoman law to claim all such land as belonging to the occupying authority. Yet it is on such arid and infertile land that the bedouin have created their ecological and economic niche, skillfully exploiting its minimal resources for animal breeding and rain-fed agriculture. According to the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), bedouin produce more than 50% of the West Bank's red meat. Some have a kushan (ownership papers) issued to them by the Jordanian Government, but most bedouin claims to land use are based on custom and ad hoc arrangements.

Israel refuses to recognize documents and custom alike. In a bizarre reversal of history, Israelis view bedouin as 'intruders' or 'invaders', and their encampments as illegal. In this regard, the Israeli military and judiciary are unanimous.  Whereas the High Court has occasionally upheld Palestinian ownership rights, it has never once judged in favour of the bedouin, except to delay evictions. Evictions began soon after the 1967  war when the eastern slopes of the West Bank were declared a military zone. But it was after Oslo that eviction and harassment intensified. Since 1996-97 a number of groups have been evicted, among them Froush Beit Dajan near Tamoun; Jahalin Salamat from around Ma'ale Adumim; Qa'abneh near Deir Dibwan; al- Rashayda village south of Bethlehem; Azameh near Nablus; the Da'is near Jiftlik; Jahalin Saray'an Wad Abu Hindi; and Jahalin Abu Dahouk at Bir al-Moscob. Evictions are accompanied by violence - destruction of shelters, beatings, arrests, confiscation of livestock and equipment.

In the case of the attack on Rashayda village (July 1998) live ammunitionand tear gas were used. All bedouin in Area C are said to have received eviction orders. These are seldom implemented immediately but remain available for use at an opportune moment when media attention is fixed on something else. Forms of harassment vary. In a survey of ten tribal groups in the Bethlehem and Hebron provinces, an Italian NGO found that all had experienced eviction, and in all cases flocks had been constrained from grazing. Nine groups had had their tents or shacks demolished; four had had equipment - tractors, water tanks - confiscated; five had had sheep confiscated, and two had had animals killed. Other sources say that caves near Hebron where bedouin live have been blown up; wells have been blocked, cisterns demolished.

But it is in the central area, between Jerusalem and Jericho, and along the Jordan Valley, that Israeli efforts to displace the bedouin have been concentrated. The Jahalin have been particularly targeted because they lie in the path of the expansion of Ma'ale Adumim, planned to grow into a megopolis of 53 square kilometers, extending eastward to Jericho and cutting the West Bank in half. Bedouin are convinced that Israel intends eventually to displace them all to Area B, where there is no vacant land for grazing, and where responsibility for them will fall on the Palestinian Authority (PA). The majority of bedouin in the West Bank were expelled from the Negev after 1948. Now they are being made refugees for the second or third time.

Double marginality
If the PLO at Oslo did not recognize the strategic significance of Area C, it is possibly because they shared the Israel perception of it as 'empty', inhabited only by a 'handful of bedouin'. Some say that the PA is complicit in the recent closures, being more anxious to recuperate land separating patches of A and B than bedouin areas. Other Palestinians express contradictory attitudes to the bedouin, sometimes holding them up as the embodiment of Arab values such as generosity, with others accusing them of collaboration or 'backwardness'. The taxi driver who drove us to a remote encampment southeast of Hebron said,  "Bedouin are lazy, they don't like to work". More significant, they are invisible. Knowledgeable people are ignorant about them, even their number.

In the Central Bureau of Statistics in Ramallah, when I asked what percentage of the West Bank population the bedouin form, answers ranged from "less than 1%" to "at least 25%". The CBS's Statistical Brief (January 1999) does not distinguish bedouin as a separate category. Bedouin themselves and NGOs that work with them suggest figures varying between 200 to 300,000, ie. a sizeable 12% to 18% of the West Bank population of 1,601,000.

Negev Bedouin
The majority of the Naqab (Negev) bedouin were expelled or fled in 1948. Eleven tribes were systematically removed between Beersheba and Gaza for so-called security reasons, and the 19 remaining tribes were forced into concentrated areas called reservations.

Today, bedouin comprise about 12% of the Palestinian population of Israel. Approximately half live in the poorest recognized localities in Israel, while the other half live in unrecognized villages. Israeli policy has attempted to forcibly concentrate the bedouin and make their traditional lands available for Jewish settlement and domesticate the indigenous bedouin economy and create a cheap source of wage labor for the Jewish economy. Prior to 1948 around 90% of the bedouin in the Naqab earned their living from agriculture, and 10% from raising livestock. Today over 90% live from wage labor. According to the Association of Forty, there are currently 22,000 unrecognized houses in the Naqab subject to demolition. In 1998, 370 homes were demolished and around 1,700 cases are currently being prosecuted in court.

The figures do not include homes demolished by the owners. Out of 12,600,000 dunums of land used by the bedouin in the Naqab, bedouin are struggling to prevent eviction from some 240,000 dunums remaining with them. The transfer of the IDF to the Naqab from the Golan in the event of Israeli withdrawel may lead to the displacement of many bedouin from their present location. Under the 1980 Naqab Land Acquisition (Peace Treaty with Egypt) Law more than 55,000 dunums of land were confiscated from the bedouin to build military bases and an airport.The military base at Im Tinan, was never built, and the land was turned over to Jewish settlers in 1994. No bedouin has ever won a land claim to any of the 3,000 lawsuits filed over the past two decades.

Sources: Association of Forty Survey, Negev Office, Beersheva, September 1998, cited in Article 26, The Arab bedouin of the Naqab, Factsheet No. 3. Arab Association for Human Rights. Ron Kelley, "Israel's Bedouin: The End of Poetry," The Link, vol. 31, no. 4: Sept.-Oct. 1998 cited in AIC factsheet. Penny Maddrell, The
Bedouin of the Negev. Minority Rights Group, Report No. 81 (1990), p. 5) .

 Uncertainty about their numbers reflects uncertainty about who is a bedouin. Bedouin say that only they know, and that NGOs often do not distinguish between bedouin and other poor. Social boundaries have blurred with the decline of transhumant pastoralism as a viable way of life.Deprived of grazing land and water, some bedouin have shifted into crop farming (especially in the Ghor Valley),

others to unskilled labour in the settlements. Though the marginality of West Bank bedouin is part of a wider pattern linked to the rise of strong states, border control, and changing patterns of trade, yet West Bank bedouin are also victims of direct Israeli occupation and Palestinian neglect, giving their plight a double twist. Bedouin are hardly present in any Palestinian national institution, whether the Cabinet, Legislative Council, the Security apparatus, the Ministries, the NGOs, political parties, or the media. There are bedouin sections in the  Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Local Government, but they are headed by nonbedouin.Very few bedouin reach the universities where national elites are formed.

Poverty with a modern face

Whereas once their animals had sale value as well as providing household subsistence, today bedouin in the West Bank are mired in poverty and debt. Their settlements are startling in their bareness, lacking even earth for the greens with which Palestinians in refugee camps used to eke out their rations. Shelter types range from caves through tents, shacks made out of salvaged junk - jute sacks, wood planks, cardboard, plastic sheeting, zinco - up to cement for the better-off. Women have to manage without running water, electricity, fridges, storage cupboards, or stoves.

Once or twice we saw a primus but most cooking is done on wood. There's a striking contrast between young children who looked adequately nourished even if poorly clothed and shoeless, and the women, who are skeletal. The most basic necessities have to be bought, starting with water. Interested in renting a van in Helsinki, then you to this site for order.

Two successive years of drought has exacerbated water shortage caused by privileged settler use and the blocking of wells. A recent survey by an Italian NGO that works with Jahalin and Qa'bneh in the central region found that most families (55%) buy water from villages at double the municipal price; 32% get it free from Israeli settlements but are liable to be cut off. Transporting water from distant sources requires transport and tankers that only better-off or NGO-assisted bedouin have.

Income sources are few and costs of living are high. Last Ramadan the PA imported frozen meat, with resulting falls in the price of fresh mutton. For many bedouin households, their flocks are their only source of income but now female lambs are being sold to reduce flock size. Many who have tried to diversify into fruit or crop production have had their trees felled and their crops destroyed. Work in settlement is insecure and poorly paid - 70 shekels (around $16) a day - with entry permits required. Assistir filmes online gratis em Português

Some men work as drivers. Capital or micro-credit for small enterprises are equally lacking. The distance from population centers that bedouin prized in days of self-sufficiency is a serious disadvantage now. Encampments are often far from roads, public transport is rare or non-existent, few have cars (though some have tractors or animals). This poses problems for women who have to shop, for children going to school, and for those in need of medical care. An NGO worker by chance visiting Wad Abu Hindi recently was able to save two sick babies' lives by taking them to hospital. No encampment have on-site clinics or medical personnel. Mobile clinics may visit once a week or once a month but hospitals are only to be found in major urban centers. Veterinary services, like hospitals, have to be paid for.

Their need for schools and school buses is the bedouin's crying message to the outside world. Road and public transport deprivation means that children have to walk up to 12 km to school or to wait for hours for public transport. Many drop out, especially girls. A very few encampments, such as the Jahalin Saray'an in  Wad Abu Hindi, have a school of their own. When the Israelis destroyed it in October 1997, the people rebuilt it with their own hands. Three years ago a Qa'abneh group near al-Taybeh secured help for a mobile school. The Israelis first insisted on a permit, then on a survey, and finally said that their school must be situated in Area B. Only 33% of bedouin children get to secondary school, way below the national average of 77.6%.

Clearly such infrastructural deprivation is politically motivated. Bedouin in Area C who complain to the Israelis about settler attacks, water cuts, or lack of services are told, "Go to your Authority!". But the PA's few attempts to  extend services to Area C have been blocked. Though 90% of West Bank bedouin are registered as refugees, few of them receive UNRWA assistance since they live far from distribution centres. Yet if they go to hospitals in Area A, most are excluded as refugees from PA-subsidized medical care. A similar dilemma hangs over their legal status and attempts to resist eviction: no legal aid is available to them except private Israeli lawyers. Because of the drought, emergency help from ECHO (the European Community Humanitarian Organization) has been reaching them, but the absence of plans for development aid reflects a doubtful future.

Image of the Future Framed against the imposing hilltop spread of Ma'ale Adumim, 'Jahalin camp' may be an image of the West Bank bedouin future. It is here, on a stony hilltop at the tip of east Jerusalem, right over the municipal garbage dump, in Area B, that 60 Jahileen Salamat families were moved by massive force in January and February 1997. The crowded metal containers, tents and sheds which they now inhabit, alongside their few remaining flocks, is the antithesis of a bedouin encampment, always spaced out and set in sheltered wadis close to grazing space. Here animals are permanently penned and fed year round on barley. Sulayman Mazara'a, a spokesman for the Jahalin, deplores this diet which is costly to buy - unlike Jordan, the PA refuses to subsidize fodder - bloats the animals, and degrades milk quality. Bedouin children are also affected psychologically, he says, by the loss of their natural habitat, becoming depressed and withdrawn.
 

Other evictions of Jahileen encampments have been initiated since 1997. In February 1999 35 families from Wadi Muscob, on the road to Jericho, were dumped at night in 'Jahalin camp' after most of their encampment was bulldozed. They and another  group have court cases pending; the Israeli offer is a 49-year lease on a piece of land in 'Jahalin camp' and a home-building permit, a questionable deal because the land belongs to Abu Dis people. New sites have recently been flattened on slopes under 'Jahalin camp', pointing to upcoming evictions of the hundreds of small encampments - mainly Jahalin and Qa'abneh - that lie to the north, east and south of Ma'ale Adumim.

Bedouin reactions to these pressures has been impressive: eviction notices are disregarded, displacement by force resisted, demolished shelters rebuilt. But it is a silent struggle, largely unnoticed by the media, Western or Arab. Some spokesmen evoke the word 'despair', fearing no future for the bedouin way of life. More positively, they call for the establishment of 'bedouin villages' where the transition to modernity could be managed without loss of their solidarities and culture. There have also been attempts to organize along modern lines, a difficult path because of their political/ material conditions, and tribal structure. The first to form an Association in 1988, the Jahalin now also have an elected Committee.

Other tribal groups are following suit. These associations are legally registered, hence equivalent to NGOs or community-based associations, and they bring the embryo of a 'bedouin lobby' to the political arena. But can it develop in time?

Eviction of Palestinians in Hebron Area
During October and November 1999, around 700 Palestinians living in caves in the Hebron area were evicted by Israeli forces after some 800,000 dunums were declared to be a closed military zone according to an order issued in May. Similar to restrictions placed on land declared to be a closed military zone in the Umm al-Fahm area inside Israel, access to land  was restricted to Fridays, Saturdays and Israeli holidays making it impossible for the farmers to cultivate their land and graze their livestock.

Tents were destroyed, caves sealed, flocks driven away, and personal property, including mattresses, blankets, utensils, and food for  animals, confiscated. According to Shlomo Dror, spokesperson for the Israeli Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, "No one disputes that they own the land, but these people are Bedouin, not permanent residents, so they cannot stay  in the area." The expulsion took place one week after evacuation of Ma'on settlement in an agreement between the Israeli government and Yesha, the settler's council. The expulsions appear to be related to Israeli attempts to maintain sovereignty over large areas  of the West Bank.

While both Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh and OC Central Command  Major General Moshe Ya'alon stated that they do not intend to allow the expellees to return, the Israeli High Court ruled on 29 March that the residents would be temporarily allowed to return to their homes and lands. The Court gave the government two months to find an arbitrator who will be responsible for determining if those Palestinians evicted by Israeli forces are residents of the area. Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy recounted the experience of the families after their second eviction. "The paratroopers raided at dawn: less than two weeks ago the soldiers in their vaunted red berets, young men from an elite unit, swooped down on Khirbet Jinba in the  land of the caves in the area of southern Mount Hebron.

Bursting into the caves, they removed the possessions of the 17 families - of the hundreds of residents who were expelled from them about four months ago - that had returned to them, loaded everything on a truck and without further ado left the site. After traveling for about half an hour, the truck pulled up at the village of Tawana; the paratroopers' mission flawlessly accomplished,  they dumped everything along the side of the road and went on their way. The Civil Administration did the planning, the paratroopers obeyed orders and the operation went off without a hitch. During the night, soldiers were posted at the caves and prevent neighbors from supplying the cave dwellers with food and water. By the side of the road the meager heap of belongings lay exposed to the elements: a pile of rags that were perhaps children's clothes, scrawny  mattresses, a few basic food products, even some pitas that had been baked at dawn.

Israeli eye-witnesses who arrived at the site encountered a heart-rending site: an elderly blind man crawling among the objects looking for the remnants of his clothes. A few children who arrived broke out in tears when they saw what the soldiers had done to their  things. Four months earlier, in the first eviction operation, they saw how the soldiers treated them and their parents. But their parents did not give in: they are in the caves now, with the few belongings that they hide  during the daylight hours for fear of the Red Berets." "This is what is done to people who have the effrontery to return to their homes, this is how Israel behaves in its dark backyard. In its front yard, Israel dispatches
rescue teams to every stricken place on the planet - medicine to Mozambique, a new village with a clinic and a shopping center for Turkey - but here it takes the possessions of a few hundred people and dumps them by the roadside, leaving them destitute."