Israeli NGOs bring rocket shelters to unrecognized Bedouin villages
IsraAID, AJEEC-NISPED and the Tamar Center partnering to install protective spaces as fighting puts Bedouin communities at disproportionate risk
Sunday, November 12, 2023. For immediate release:
IsraAID, Israel’s leading international humanitarian NGO, is delivering and installing protective spaces for unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel’s south in the wake of the ongoing war with Hamas. The temporary shelters will offer a degree of protection for communities in these villages, which do not have access to shelter from ongoing missile fire. Working in partnership with AJEEC-NISPED and the Tamar Center, two Arab-Jewish civil society organizations committed to creating change in the Negev, IsraAID will also support the Bedouin community with psychosocial support programs and food relief.
Since October 7, 22 members of the Bedouin community have been killed in the fighting, including seven killed by rockets fired toward Israel. Most Bedouin communities in the south lack access to bomb shelters, exposing them to additional danger from ongoing rocket fire. In unrecognized Bedouin villages, home to as many as 150,000 people, bans on building permanent structures further complicate efforts to provide necessary protection from rocket and missile fire.
In the initial phase of this project, IsraAID is delivering 42 protected spaces, which are being installed, and painted in unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel’s south, at the request of community leaders and together with AJEEC-NISPED. The first shelter was delivered on Monday, November 6th, and the installation will continue for the next several weeks. Alongside the installation, teams from AJEEC-NISPED are working with the communities receiving protected spaces to ensure community ownership and conducting activities to teach children what to do during rocket sirens. As the project continues, IsraAID and AJEEC-NISPED are committed to delivering as many protective spaces to Bedouin communities as possible.
IsraAID is also working in partnership with AJEEC-NISPED and the Tamar Center to provide mental health and psychosocial support for the community. A mobile child-friendly space, providing stress-relief activities under the supervision of trained professionals, will support several villages. These spaces allow children to play, give parents respite, and help build resilience in the community. To support those who work hand-in-hand with the Bedouin community, IsraAID is running a six-week training program for AJEEC-NISPED staff focusing on psychological first aid, self-care, burnout prevention, psychosocial support, and the prevention of vicarious trauma.
IsraAID launched its response to the ongoing crisis in Israel on October 8, the first time the organization has conducted a large-scale emergency response in its home country. IsraAID is supporting Israelis who have been evacuated from their homes along the Gaza border at over a dozen evacuation centers around the country – including at the Dead Sea, Eilat, and the center of the country – with mental health and psychosocial support, establishing temporary educational centers, and logistical support. The organization is also supporting the asylum seeker community, many of which have seen a loss of livelihood during this time, with the delivery of family food kits and psychosocial support programs. As part of a program of “helping the helpers”, IsraAID is offering free online webinars for mental health professionals and grassroots volunteers in psychological first aid, self-care, burnout prevention, and the prevention of vicarious trauma.
IsraAID’s Regional Head of Mission Molly Bernstein, said:
“IsraAID is proud to be working to support the Bedouin communities disproportionately affected by this crisis. In partnership with AJEEC-NISPED and Tamar, organizations with deep ties to Bedouin communities, we’re not only working to provide basic access to protective spaces and ensure communities know how to use them, but we’re also bringing mental health and psychosocial support resources that are essential at this time of crisis. This response is part of our long-term commitment to helping vulnerable communities nurture their own resilience.”
AJEEC-NISPED’s Co-CEO Sliman Al-Amour said:
“The partnership with IsraAID and Tamar for the benefit of the Bedouin community is welcomed and important. Through this partnership, we’re creating important avenues for the Bedouin community to cope in three ways. First, by installing protective spaces that provide safety for families in unrecognized villages. The second is through psychosocial support, which contributes to the third aspect – the innovative and experiential informal learning activities for children who have yet to return to school.
It is important for more authorities and organizations to join these activities to improve the quality of life for Bedouin communities. We must add that in order to provide protection to all residents, we need 11,000 protective spaces in the Negev. Providing a sense of security to the entire Bedouin community is possible, but we’re still a long way away.”
Further information is available on request, including interviews with IsraAID CEO Yotam Polizer, AJEEC-NISPED Co-CEO Sliman Al-Amour, members of the community, and other individuals involved in this operation.
All images should be credited to IsraAID/Ori Taub
Email: [email protected]
IsraAID is a leading international humanitarian non-governmental organization, based in Israel. Since 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises. Its medical teams, post-trauma experts, community specialists and other professionals have led international responses to disasters and civil strife around the world. During and after emergencies, IsraAID partners with local communities to re-build their lives, their communities and their futures, together. As of November 2023, IsraAID has responded to crises in more than 60 countries.
AJEEC-NISPED (Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation – Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Economic Development) is an Arab-Jewish organization for social change that was established in the Negev in 2000. The organization is made up of a joint team of Arabs and Jews who work together to create an equal, shared society, which allows Arabs and Jews to coexist while preserving their identity and culture. Currently, the organization operates in civil society all over Israel and in cross-border programs. The organization’s goal is to promote leadership and social involvement among teenagers and youth in Arab society, community development in the Arab-Bedouin sector in the Negev, and development of a shared society for Arabs and Jews throughout Israel.