Jahalin Bedouins

Photo exhibition Faces of the Mediterranean

Jahalin Bedouins

The Jahalin Bedouins in the early 1950s, following the establishment of the State of Israel, were driven out of their homeland (Tel Arad in the Negev desert) to the West Bank and Gaza. In these new lands, the Jahalin Bedouins adapted while preserving their traditional way of life through cattle grazing between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

After Israel's occupation of the West Bank in 1967, here were the Jahalin Bedouins driven out for the second time. Israel declared much of their land a "military zone" and confiscated much of it citing "security reasons." Other areas inhabited by the Jahalin were declared "nature reserves" and were thus inhibited from grazing. Once again the Jahalin Bedouins were forced to leave their land, this time to the hills of the Judah desert east of Jerusalem.

Their Odyssey was not to end there, however. In 1975 Israel expropriated the first 3,000 hectares of Jahalin land to make way for the new Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumim (currently the third largest in the West Bank). Like all Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the one at Ma'ale Adumim is considered by international law to be for all intents and purposes "illegal" because it stands on the land of another people intentionally driven out by violence.

Equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure and efficient public services, the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim developed by exploiting the resources of Bedouin land. In later years, more land was taken from them to build the industrial zone of Mishor Adumim and the settlements of Kfar Adumin and Qedar.

Jahalin communities currently live in encampments housing between 100 and 1,000 people, located on remnant spaces squeezed between the advancing Israeli wall, settlements, military infrastructure, and the rampant urban development that characterizes the area. These are shoddy and degraded lands, often home to Jerusalem's open dumpsites. Confined within demarcated territories, forbidden to move and build, tents have made way for wooden and tin shacks.

Some may wonder why on earth Bedouins live in tin shacks, unsuitable for the scorching climates of the summer season and the harsh climates of the winter season. The explanation is that Israel prohibits them from making dwellings that involve some kind of foundation and forbids the use of the appropriate materials for this purpose such as cement, iron, stones and bricks.

Added to these prohibitions is the radical prohibition not to build anything that is not authorized. And of course, nothing is authorized. In the face of these hallucinating provisions, all that is left for the Bedouins is to adapt in shacks that, in the absence of specific permits, are demolished by bulldozers but can be more easily restored. The same applies to kindergartens: nothing escapes the demolition order. As for basic services, there are none, and health and social indices are significantly lower than the already alarming Palestinian average.



Alessandro Bartolini

Born in Poppi, Arezzo, in 1966, he is a civil engineer by profession and a photographer by passion. In 2005 he organized his debut photography exhibition focused on the reality of Palestinian citizens. A traveler and engineer, Alessandro has creatively combined his technical training with his passion for photography.

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