The Bedouin Communities East of Jerusalem – A Planning Survey

    of the Bedouin Localities

General Maps

Wadi Abu Hindi

Al Muntar

Abu Nuwar

Wadi Jimel

Jabal Al-Baba

Wadi Al 'Awaj

Wadi Abu As-Suwan




Bir Al-Maskub

Wadi Sneysel

Khan Al-Ahmar Communities

Abu Al-Helw and Um Ad-Deif


Abu Falah




Qilt Road No 1

Wadi Qilt

Za'ataret Az Za'iem




Characteristics of the Bedouin Localities East of Jerusalem

(see General Map -11)

The Bedouin localities east of Jerusalem are organized in residential clusters arranged mainly according to extended family, or in clusters of a number of tightly knit families. The clusters feature a number of temporary structures usually constructed of light building materials – iron, wood and tin, and covered with makeshift cloth and plastic roofs. The basic organizing principle of the living clusters is the concern for personal privacy, mainly of women. Therefore, the buildings in the family clusters are usually close to one another, since while exposure and movement of women in the family context is permitted and acceptable, between clusters, distances are greater in order to create a separation that enables free movement within the family cluster. Within the internal organization of the cluster and of the home itself, separation is also maintained between the realm that is more public and open, which also accommodates the guests, and the realm that is private and less exposed, which is the domain of the women.

Historically, the concern for personal privacy, and the need for spatial segregation that arises from it, in combination with the need for relatively expansive and open spaces for the purposes of raising flocks, led to a tendency for Bedouin settlement to be sparsely distributed. This tendency towards scattering over an expanse was reduced over the years due to elaborate development and construction of infrastructure intended not for the Bedouin population, but mainly to serve the Jewish settlements that were built over the years, and for new army bases, leading to the closing off of vast expanses to the local population residing there. Moreover, the vulnerability resulting from the relative scattering in space is exacerbated by the long years during which the authorities ignored them, and the lack of planning and land and other resource allocation, which would have properly addressed the population’s needs.

The authorities’ ignoring of the population coupled with the lack of planning led to a situation in which most of the Bedouin settlements suffer from a complete lack of proper infrastructure. In many cases, residents are forced to find alternative solutions independently, at their own expense, in order to cope with the authorities’ non-provision of resources for their most basic needs – for example, to carry water over long distances by their own devices, or use generators for the provision of electricity. Residents thus hook up illegally to the electrical system or to the water supply in the nearby Palestinian localities, or independently dig cesspits near their living areas. The Bedouin localities are accessed via dirt roads that are difficult to travel, curtailing commutes to places of employment and educational institutions; and in most places, there is usually no accessible and available public transportation. Even in Bedouin localities where public transportation passes nearby on a main road, residents are unable to use it, due to the complete prohibition against stopping along the roads. While some drivers do stop, the service is highly irregular, dependent on the drivers’ goodwill, and willingness to risk receiving traffic fines. The complete lack of proper access roads to Bedouin localities to enable drivers to enter residential areas, as well as absence of the alternative solution –specially planned roadside stops slightly offset from the highway, as are constructed for many rural Jewish localities across Israel as well as for Jewish settlements in the region – result in extremely limited transportation options for Bedouin residents. Stated otherwise, even when located along a major highway, Bedouin localities function as remote communities. As a result, many of the boys and girls in the Bedouin localities do not attend school, or the level of their studies is severely compromised due to spotty attendance.  Often, even when students do manage to attend schools in nearby Palestinian communities and in East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods despite the arduous journey involved, made even more difficult in adverse weather conditions, there are further problems: a lack of electrical infrastructure that prevents them from studying at home after nightfall, and a dearth of educational aids and supplies . All these contribute to large and cumulative gaps between the academic level of Bedouin pupils and that of local students. Girls are especially affected, for when these obstacles prevent them from continuing to advanced studies, they are ultimately denied the possibility of securing gainful employment outside the home.

The problems of accessibility and the ongoing lack of development of course also have fateful implications for the prospects for employment and livelihood for residents of the Bedouin communities. The lack of places of employment in these localities, coupled with the narrowing of grazing and livestock-raising options, lead to high overall unemployment rates, reaching 50-80% for men and nearly 100% for women. For purposes of these data, only outside employment that contributes to family income was considered, excluding unpaid labor in the form of domestic chores.

Alongside the authorities’ ongoing lack of attention to all that pertains to planning living areas for the Bedouin population, and the price exacted daily in all realms of their lives, the residents also suffer from an ongoing threat of uprooting and evacuation, and from heavy-handed government intervention regarding the physical space in which they conduct their lives. All of the homes and other structures are constantly under threat of demolition, and the communities overall face threats of evacuation and closure of their living areas. The only interest that the authorities display in the Bedouin residents of the area is for purposes of uprooting, evacuation, and concentration of the population into settlement areas that do not fulfill their needs or suit the lifestyle that they have been leading for many years.