When Camels Roam Free and Dangerous (Walla Interviews Meir Deutsch of Regavim)

Tomorrow, Tuesday, there will a discussion in the Knesset on the issue of the roaming camels in the South.  In preparation for discussion in the Knesset, Meir Deutsch, Director of Policy and government relations at Regavim, came to the studio of Walla! News and explained the severity of the disaster that roaming camels can cause.

In face of the fatal road accident that occurred last month in which a 60 year old woman was killed when her car collided with camels, Deutsch said “accidents involving camels are more fatal than regular traffic accidents.  When there is a collision with a camel, the main brunt of the blow in the accident is on the driver.  This is because the camel is so tall.  The engine of the car is almost not damaged at all and all the weight of the camel, which is around on average a ton, falls on the driver.”

Regavim keeps close track of the phenomenon of stray camels in the Negev. The association also is the legal representative for the family of David Cohen, who was killed a year and a half ago after being hit by a roaming camel.  “It is difficult to pick out camels when driving because of their color which is like the color of the dunes that blends in so well with the natural landscape,” added Deutsch. “If you hit a camel, it is very difficult to escape without injury.”


Deutsch affirms that each year the organization receives reports of approximately a   thousand camels roaming the South. “The accident this past month could have been avoided. We and motorists have turned to the police and warned them.  The Police indicated to us that they have received a very large amount of reports, but they have noticed that in the last two years they were successful in finding the owner of the camel only once. Usually Bedouins reach the accident site and cut the number imprinted on the camels ear in order to hide his affiliation to them. Most of the time it is not possible to find the owner.”

According to Deutsch, it is the responsibility of the camel’s owners to ensure that roaming does not go unsupervised near roads. “We are initiating a law that would require the owners to put a microchip on the camels under their skin much like on dogs, to help to be able to identify the owners.”  He added that the incompetence of the authorities has led to loss of life on the roads. “Every year there are about 15 accidents with injuries. Three years ago, for example, an entire family perished in an accident. This is due to cost-saving policies by the camel owners.  Instead of having the owners pay for hay to feed the camel, they send the camel out to graze in the open,” Deutsch  said. “With the help of the bill of MK Bezalel Smotrich which has the support of 50 other MKs, which is being brought forth to the in the Knesset, we hope that the situation will change.”


Regavim Ready to Go to the Supreme Court to Defend Bedouin Rights

When the Begin-Prawer Plan, officially known as the Bill on the Arrangement of Bedouin Settlement in the Negev was passed in September 2011, advocates for the bill believed it would bring much needed reforms to the Bedouin communities of the Negev.  

According to the PMO official press release, the bill is based on four main principles:

  1. Providing for the status of Bedouin communities in the Negev;
  2. Economic development for the Negev’s Bedouin population;
  3. Resolving claims over land ownership; and
  4. Establishing a mechanism for binding, implementation and enforcement, as well as timetables.

Segments within the Bedouin communities had long benefited from a sense of anarchy and lawlessness, yet many more Bedouins were left without real zoning and local organization to advance their communities.

Proponents of the bill argued that it was necessary to integrate the Bedouin communities more closely to Israeli society. With successive Israeli governments putting an emphasis developing and settling the Negev, the bill became threaded into the region’s broader narrative.

Implementing Bedouin Land Reforms Hits a Surprising Snag

Five years after the Begin-Prawer plan  El Sayed, one of the villages in the El Ksom Bedouin Region that has been accepted by the State to be recognized as a community still awaits a new access road, yet the Bedouins are not the road block this time.  The local branch of Leumit Medical Insurance Company, located in an old building blocks the proposed route of the new access road.

Regavim, an organization typically focused on illegal Arab building has stepped into to help.

“One of the most important projects in the Negev is the community of El Sayed and therefore we are investing a special effort”, says Amichai Yogev, coordinator of the Southern District for Regavim.  “We are dealing with a big settlement that the access road  to it was through a narrow dirt road and distorted . The authorities wanted to promote a normal pavement of the road, so we were surprised to discover that it was the very structure of Leumit that had remained standing like a sore thumb on the route of the road, and is one of the last obstacles that prevent the construction of the access road to the settlement.”


Despite the fact that there is an existing judicial demolition order that was supposed to go into effect in the beginning of 2016, the local authorities have not rushed to start the demolition.  In recent months, Regavim has conducted extensive correspondence with the regional council, and is considering appealing to the High Court in the event the illegal building is not demolished in the near future.

In the last two years the Authority for regulating Bedouin settlements, has finalized the main access road design for the community. In order to pave the road, trees were uprooted and several illegal structures that were on the planned road were evacuated.  The only structure left on the road is an illegal structure where Leumit operates.

“Along with the consistent and systematic requests by us that the Bedouin citizens be citizens with equal obligations, Regavim makes sure that their rights are also taken care of,” says Yogev.  “Since the Leumit structure is illegal, and the residents of El Sayed deserve a proper wide road with proper safety standards, we will continue to apply pressure until the business at hand is taken care of.”

Headlines: Meir Ettinger to Be Freed, Illegal Arab Buildings Demolished, 900 Million NIS to Bedouins

Right-wing Jewish activist, Meir Ettinger, imprisoned for months without charge won’t have his detention extended and will be freed in two weeks.
[Arutz Sheva]


Police oversee demolition of two illegal Arab buildings in Jerusalem Walls National Park in City of David.
[Arutz Sheva]


France agreed to delay the May 30th launch of its new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative until some time this summer to allow for the US to attend.
[The Jerusalem Post]


Despite promises, Israel continues to return the bodies of terrorists killed during attacks, including terrorists who resided inside of Israel.
[Arutz Sheva]


A ministerial committee, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and charged with handling government policy vis-à-vis the country’s Arab population, approved a massive spending plan targeting the Bedouin sector to the tune of 900 million shekels.
[Arutz Sheva]


A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas offered to begin secret, direct talks with Israel aimed at bringing about a two-state solution.
[Times of Israel]