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Cases Developement
October 18 2006 Would they have it so bad in Rahat?

By Aryeh Dayan, Haaretz



`The area where you live is known as a military area that
was acquired by the state in 1980 and is earmarked for the
construction of a military base.`

According to the story passed from generation to
generation in the Bedouin village of Al-Sira, the village
was founded during the Ottoman period following a conflict
in the early 20th century among the families of the tribe,
al-Nasasra and al-Amour, and the neighboring al-Hassouni
clan. The argument revolved around several hundred dunams
that the al-Nasasra and al-Amour families had purchased
southeast of Be`er Sheva. The sheikhs of the two tribes
went all the way to Jerusalem to ask the Ottoman court to
decide. The court ruled in their favor, and the lands of
Al-Sira were registered in their names in the Turkish land

`Our families have been living peacefully in this village
for almost 100 years, without bothering anyone and without
anyone bothering them,` says Halil al-Amour, a member of
the village residents` committee and a teacher of
mathematics and computers in the high school in Keseifa,
the adjacent town.

The lands of Al-Sira, which over 100 years ago lay in the
middle of the desert, are today located in a bustling
region: they border on the north with the highway
connecting Arad with the Shoket junction, on the south
with the Israel Air Force base in Nevatim, and on the east
with the road connecting the base and the highway.

Only few of the Bedouin tribes who lived for years in the
region have survived the changes in government as they
have, without having to leave their lands. The British,
who arrived a few years after that legal proceeding in
Jerusalem, honored their ownership of the land and even
built a clinic, a school and a flour mill for them in
nearby Tel Malhata. The Israeli government, which replaced
the British 30 years later, did the same.

The residents of Al-Sira received citizenship in the new
state and were allowed to remain on their land. The
village did not receive official recognition (and
therefore has yet to be linked up to the electricity and
telephone grids) but its residents remained in place. The
clinic, the school and the flour mill continued to
operate, now under Israeli administration.

The residents of Al-Sira stayed put even in the early
1980s, when the evacuation of Sinai in the context of the
peace treaty with Eg

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