I hired a tour guide, who introduced me to a Bedouin mother and child near the Israeli settlement, old Arab village, and archeological discoveries of Susiya. I had visited the Israeli town in 2014 so it was a useful coincidence to be near the area again from another perspective.

Bedouin home near Susiya

According to my host, her home (which they had tried to build permanently, I think – she gestured to a cement part of her home) had been demolished four times. She said one time the soldiers had killed her sheep. My guide said that to get a building permit costs a lot of money and paperwork; so high it wasn’t worth it.

My guide emphasized the rough road, how long it took for her kids to get to school, how she needed to pay for private transport.

Many of her neighbors had left. I asked my guide where to – he said relatives in cities. He said that they ended up in their own neighborhoods in cities “because their habits were different.”

I saw their sheep and chickens – showing how they make money.

Proof of sheep

One question I have that I did not ask is what their ideal situation was. Do they want to keep living semi-nomadically and if so how does that square with concerns about the government not providing them with roads, and with the goal of building permanent houses? Also my guide emphasized that this is what happens in area c; is it the policy to encourage all area c Bedouin into towns? How does this differ from Bedouins in 1948 Israel? For example, these encampments outside of Jericho?

Bedouins between Jerusalem and Jericho

Finally what is the government’s reasoning? Do they say it is nature reserve? Or just that you need to proper permits (and do those differ from settlers to Bedouin, or can the settlers just afford them?)