Bedouin Crime Bosses Are Seeding Chaos in the Negev

Over one third of the Bedouin population of southern Israeli live in so-called “dispersed areas” rather than incorporated towns and villages. These are not idyllic desert encampments, but impoverished shanty towns without schools or running water. With no police presence or formal government control, power in these areas is often in the hands of mafia-like groups who terrorize their fellow Bedouin while causing problems for other Israelis. David M. Weinberg explains the problem:

The Bedouin of the Negev are the fastest-growing population in the world, doubling in size every fifteen years through mass (and illegal) polygamy, today numbering close to 300,000 people. . . . It’s no surprise, then, that these Bedouin communities suffer from extraordinary high rates of unemployment, poverty, violence against women, and especially criminal activity. Islamic radicalization is on the rise too, leading to increased Bedouin involvement in terrorism against Jewish Israelis.

Last year, Mansour Abbas of the Islamic Israeli-Arab party Ra’am . . . secured tens of billions of shekels from the Israeli government to support Bedouin development, including at-least-temporary electricity hook-ups for tens of thousands of illegal structures in squatter camps. Some thought this was a harbinger of hope for more comprehensive long-term arrangements and solutions. In fact, on [a] study tour this week, I saw hundreds of government-developed plots of land (with all necessary modern infrastructure in place) ready for home construction in Bedouin towns like Hura—except that they remain empty and unused. . . . Why?

Broad clan-based Bedouin criminal gangs control just about anything that moves or wants to move in the Negev. They “regulate” the allocation of plots in every township and on every sand dune; they “own” the large business sectors in the south (including arms smuggling, drug manufacture and trade, trucking, and the “supply” of Palestinian women from Gaza and the West Bank for Bedouin men). And they prevent any Bedouin from the “dispersed” areas from moving into towns like Hura, especially if those that don’t belong to the right Bedouin clan or pay enough to the local Bedouin chieftain.

Most frightening of all, these Bedouin mafiosi run Negev-wide protection rackets, forcing Israeli Jewish residents of the south and their businesses to pay through the nose to ward off violence and destruction.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Bedouin, Israeli Arabs, Negev

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy