+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

The Bedouin children trying to stop bulldozers with their cameras

As the bulldozers start building the Jewish town of Hiran, the children of the Bedouin village Umm al-Hiran are joining the struggle to save their homes. 

By Michal Rotem

A Bedouin girl from Umm al-Hiran takes photos at a demonstration against the destruction of the village, August 27, 2015. (photo: Michal Rotem)

A Bedouin girl from Umm al-Hiran takes photos at a demonstration against the destruction of the village, August 27, 2015. (photo: Michal Rotem)

The children of the unrecognized Bedouin village Umm al-Hiran started their summer vacation in an usual way. The future of the village in which they grew up in is unclear, the struggle against the demolition of their homes is gaining traction, and the bulldozers are working tirelessly nearby to establish the Jewish town of Hiran.

Despite the fact that the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality organizes its yearly photography workshops during the summer, it was clear that this year it was of utmost importance to do it in the summer, despite the heat.

In May, Israel’s High Court of Justice refused to cancel eviction orders against Umm al-Hiran, home to 700 men, women and children of the al-Qi’an tribe. The state wants to demolish the village and relocate the Bedouin residents to the town of Hura – for the sole purpose of building Hiran over its ruins. Umm al-Hiran’s adjacent sister village, Atir, will also be destroyed to expand the man-made forest of “Yatir.”

Those who came to last week’s protest against the bulldozers, which are working hard to build the new Jewish town, were surprised to find children with cameras strapped around their necks, documenting the demonstration from every possible angle.

The children of Umm al-Hiran who are participating in the photography workshop. (photo: Udi Goren)

The children of Umm al-Hiran who are participating in the photography workshop. (photo: Udi Goren)

Over 10 meetings, volunteer photographers taught the children how to work the camera and take photos. This was also an opportunity for the photographers themselves to come to Umm al-Hiran and photograph what is happening. In one of the meetings, the children themselves went to the bulldozers and began taking photos, surprising the policemen who were sent there to stand guard. The children, and the adults who followed, demanded that the building cease until all sides reach an agreement that will allow the residents to continue living in their village.

The workshop was made possible due to a successful Headstart project, which was able to fundraise enough money to put on two workshops. Now, the Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality is organizing another Headstart project to fund future workshops.

Israel’s High Court will decide in September whether to hold another hearing — this time with an expanded panel of judges — on the validity of the eviction notices. Furthermore, Adalah — The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights will appeal to the district court over the Magistrate’s Court’s decision to validate the notices in the first place.

Michal Rotem works for the Negev Forum for Coexistence and is based in Be’er Sheva. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where she is a blogger. Read it here.

Newsletter banner

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. Ben

      Why could the state not move the newcomers next to and around the existing community? The newcomers are too pure? Who are these Lords? Really there is a lot of explaining to do as to why the newcomers are so pure they cannot bear to live next to Bedouin people. This is frank racism. A credo of ethnic superiority. The grim truth is that Israel is an apartheid state. It meets the definition of an apartheid state enshrined in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the ICC: a state that commits ““inhumane acts” in the context of an “institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Roy Isacowitz explains:

      “It is not right-wing governments that institutionalized racial domination here; the process started decades before they took power.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Simon Adebisi

        STFU already with this Roy Ichibbibble shit.
        If you have a point, make it yourself.

        And you both are wrong about Aparteid.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Gangster chic, eh? Pathetic. (With this latest persona I must say though that you’re doing your usual outstanding job as an ambassador for the ethos of the occupation. You identify intimately with Simon do you?)

          Apartheid. Israel fits the definition. It can accurately and legitimately be described as an apartheid state, and, as good ol’ Roy Isacowitz says, “the rest is just semantics – and the pedantic flogging of a dead horse.” Remember, the Rome statute definition makes no reference to South Africa. South Africa was just *an* example of apartheid, it is not the exclusive model of apartheid. So pointing out how Israel is different from South Africa does not cut it. Sorry. (I mean I know you didn’t point out anything at all you just snarled and foamed at the mouth but if you *were* going to point that out, which I doubt you were, I am telling you ahead of time that it won’t cut it.)

          “The Israel of today – irredentist, paranoid, intolerant and increasingly unhinged – is the culmination of a process that began at the turn of the 20th century, when the early Zionists created the myth of a “land without people for a people without land” and set about expropriating Palestinian land. (Not dissimilar, by the way, to the hundreds of years of racial discrimination that preceded the formal system known as apartheid.)”

          Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Amira Hass:

      In two court decisions involving shoving Palestinians off their land, Supreme Court justices have confirmed what Israel’s critics are saying: that Israel has been a colonialist entity since 1948.


      “…In the justices’ consent to the demolition of Sussia and Umm al-Hiran, they have drawn a direct line linking 1948 to today. They have confirmed what Israel’s most virulent critics say about the country – that it is a colonialist, dispossessing entity. The justices have parroted what the state has been screaming all along: It’s my right to dispossess, my right to expel, my right to demolish and crowd people into pens. I have demolished and will continue to do so. I have expelled and will continue to expel. I have crowded people in and will continue to do so. I never gave a damn and never will do.”

      Reply to Comment