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

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion