High Court to hear a petition by residents of the unrecognized village Wadi Naam against the planning authorities:
Cancel the plan which will force us to move to the town of Segev Shalom and change our way of life against our will
This Thursday, 16.4.2015, at 10:30, the High Court will hear a petition of residents of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Wadi Naam, together with NGOs ACRI and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, against the plan to expand the town of Segev Shalom, the main purpose of which is to relocate the 10,000 plus residents of the village against their will.
The village of Wadi Naam, situated in Ramat Hovav Regional Council, was established in the fifties when Negev Bedouin residents were transferred there by the military authorities. Since then, for 60 years, the village has been considered “temporary”, and is therefore not connected to the water, electricity, sewage, telephone or road networks, and its inhabitants suffer from a severe lack of education, welfare and sanitation services.
In addition to the problem of non-recognition, in recent decades, some of the sites most dangerous to health and environment in Israel have been established near the village: Ramat Hovav Industrial Zone, which poses real risk of hazardous materials, and produces constant bad odors, and serious pollution of air, soil and water, is only a few hundred meters from the village; dozens of high-voltage power lines run through the village; and to the east is the Military Industrial Zone Ramat Beka, which is used, among other things, for burying all explosive materials in Israel.
The residents claim in their petition that instead of removing the polluting activity from the area, the State prefers to continue the harm to the residents of the village, and has offered eviction rather than recognition. They argue that the current plan is the same as that advanced in 2004, which was rejected by the planning authorities after the Ministry of Health determined that the proposed new location endangered the health of residents. Nonetheless, the National Planning and Building Council has now accepted the exact same plan as was previously rejected. The proposed plan is being presented by the State as a rural-type settlement, but in fact, due to building restrictions, the density will be similar to that of a city.
For thirty years, according to the petition, State agencies have been negotiating with residents regarding an alternative location for the village. However, the State is acting in bad faith and continues to impose the only solution vehemently opposed by residents – forced transfer next to and as part of the town of Segev Shalom. The State’s response to the petition indicates that it agrees to the need to establish a separate settlement, but only agrees to do so adjacent to Segev Shalom, and is not prepared to discuss the alternatives proposed by the residents.
Attorney Gil Gan-Mor, ACRI: “The State established the polluting industries near the village of Wadi Naam while ignoring the existence of the community there, and now that they are forced to look for an alternate location, the State is trying to impose on them a solution that is contrary to their lifestyle. Just a few years ago we saw that the State offered the Gush Katif evacuees the option to move as a community, while preserving their rural lifestyle as before the disengagement. But in this case, the State is offering no such solution.”
Planner Nili Baruch, Bimkom: “The residents of Wadi Naam have for years been requesting a place to live that will allow them to continue their community life and their farming. Just as Jewish citizens are given the opportunity to live not only in the city but also villages, moshavim or kibbutzim, this same opportunity should be afforded to the villagers. ”
Labad Abu-Afash, chairman of the village local committee: “Over many years we’ve held negotiations with the authorities. We’ve said, again and again that we are flexible and willing to negotiate about anything except Segev Shalom. We seek an agricultural settlement in a format that suits our life as Bedouins.”
The petition will be heard together with the petition of the Legal Clinic for Environmental Justice at Tel Aviv University, which calls for reduction of risks arising from hazardous materials at Ramat Hovav which endanger the village residents.