A planned new train line in the Naqab/Negev region of southern Israel will "cause serious harm" to Bedouin Palestinians, legal rights group Adalah has claimed.
According to Adalah, the line between the Jewish towns of Dimona and Yeruham "will swallow up extensive tracts of land and cause serious harm to the 1,400-strong Bedouin community of Rahma, facilitating public transportation needs for Jewish citizens at the expense of Bedouin citizens".
Adalah joined Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, the Regional Council for Unrecognized Villages in the Naqab, the Rahma village committee, in submitting an objection to the planned railway line to the Southern District Planning and Building Committee on 14 September.
The groups are urging "Israeli authorities shelve the current plan or consider alternative routes that do not violate the basic rights of Rahma's Bedouin residents, and swallow up some 3,600 dunams (around 890 acres) of land".
According to Adalah: "Despite the great importance of constructing a railway line that will provide all area residents – Jews and Bedouins – with comfortable and fast public transportation…the plan will cause widespread harm to the residents of Rahma living along the proposed route".
This harm includes "the blocking of roads connecting residents to family members living in nearby areas, to agricultural areas, planned service centres, kindergartens, and mosques; strict restrictions on construction and development along the train's route and in large areas of land where residential housing now stands; and home demolitions".
In their objection, the groups said that the Israeli authorities "did not take into consideration the implications [of the plan] for the area's residents and its expected impact, or examine any means to respond to and/or reduce this impact".
By contrast, "the potential impact of the plan in other areas – including archaeology, ecology/the environment, and private business – was taken into consideration".