Text by Clara Tarrero
Mustafa is only 11 years old but he has already been detained for interrogation. He lives in a makeshift shed with 21 other people from his extended family. He has seven siblings and his parents live with their sheep in Jericho, one hour’s drive away, where he goes on the weekends. He likes maths and Arabic, as well as science, and would like to work with his father in a supermarket and looking after the sheep.
Mustafa’s father describes him as a bit naughty, but smart and good in school. However, like the other children in the community, he lives in fear. “What they see during the day, they dream at night”. “What do they see?” “Tear gas, bombs, daily violence.”
“I am creating a safe place, our home, so I can go there whenever I am scared and hide under the blanket”
Bedouin lifestyle threatened
There are currently around 40,000 Bedouins in the oPt. Most are refugees and displaced indigenous tribes that settled in areas suitable for their lifestyle around Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jericho.
Bedouins are tribal-based semi-nomadic people who complement their herding activities with agricultural practices.Their infrastructure is very basic; they live in sheds with no electricity, running water or sewerage system, although they would like to have access to them. Some international NGOs are trying to improve these infrastructures.
The occupation of the West Bank in 1967 had a dramatic effect on the life of the Bedouins. The grazing areas shrunk considerably and were closed off to them, one by one with the paving of roads and the establishment of military bases and settlements, limiting their movements considerably.
After the Oslo Accords in 1994, the land where the majority of the livestock-dependent Bedouin population lived was classified as Area C (under full Israeli military and administrative control). Greater restrictions on movement, settler violence and settlement expansion, as well as the ongoing construction of the wall and the restrictions to build basic infrastructures in Area C have posed constraints to the livelihoods of Bedouins living in the West Bank including Jerusalem, severely affecting their daily lives.