Sappers neutralize suspicious object
Sappers neutralize suspicious object Flash 90

Following the arrest of a Bedouin from the town of Segev Shalom, the Regavim Movement renewed its call: “Tens of thousands of 'Palestinian' women are residing illegally in the Negev, in polygamous households in the Bedouin sector. The government continues to drag its feet, and to turn a blind eye to the national, social and security aspects of this phenomenon.”

Israel’s General Security Service (GSS) today announced that it had foiled an attempted Islamic attack in the busy Bilu Junction in south-central Israel. The operative, Mahmud Makdad, an Israeli citizen from the Bedouin town of Segev Shalom in the Negev, was apprehended as he attempted to plant an explosive device in a bus stop in the bustling junction.

Nine others, all of whom are relatives or friends of Makdad and nearly all residents of Segev Shalom, were arrested for conspiring or actively participating in the foiled attack. Among those detained are Mahmud’s brother, Ahmed Makdad (32), also of Segev Shalom.

The Makdad brothers’ mother is an Israeli Bedouin, while their father hails from the Gaza Strip; the elder Makdad is married to another woman who resides in Gaza. Mahmud was enlisted by the military wing of Hamas to reconnoiter sensitive spots throughout the Negev, and in recent months was trained to carry out explosive-device attacks in Israel.

The Makdad brothers collected intelligence and carried out surveillance on a variety of sites throughout Israel, and provided their Hamas handlers with information on the location of Iron Dome installations. Other family members helped obtain weapons and materials for constructing the explosive device they intended to detonate today in a bus stop at the Bilu Junction.

The Regavim Movement conducted an in-depth study the practice of polygamy in the Bedouin sector, and is a participant in the inter-ministerial team convened by the government to monitor enforcement of anti-polygamy laws and implementation of government policy.

According to Regavim’s 2018 study, as a result of marriages between PA women (mainly residents of the Hebron area and the Gaza Strip) and Bedouin men who hold Israeli citizenship, between 40,000-60,000 PA women and their children were living in the Negev in 2015. This figure, based on Israeli social welfare agencies’ estimates, reflects a rate of polygamy in Israel’s Bedouin sector of some 35%; in these polygamous households, some 70% of the women are Palestinian. A study published by Professor Arnon Sofer in 2004 quoted sources that estimated the number of Palestinians living in the northern Negev at that time was between 50,000 – 65,000.

“We cannot ignore the fact that the terrorists who were arrested in this incident are products of the practice of polygamy in the Bedouin sector,” said Regavim Director Meir Deutsch. “In order to make it possible for Bedouin men to take a second, third or even fourth wife, a massive ‘import-export trade’ has burgeoned in the Negev. The brothers arrested today at the Bilu Junction are products of a polygamous household, and the connection to hostile groups is built in to the family connection to Gaza.”

“Today’s arrests should not cast aspersions on the entire Bedouin sector, but the trend of ‘Palestinianization’ of the Bedouin sector must be addressed,” Deutsch adds. “In recent years, following the Prime Minister’s directives and as a result of the concerted efforts of then-Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and Director General Emi Palmor, the Ministry of Justice has begun to revisit this problem and to examine law enforcement and government action to contend with polygamy and its outcomes – but these steps are long and slow processes that focus for the most part on the socioeconomic and personal aspects of the practice of polygamy, rather than on its national social aspects. This time, the ticking bomb was defused – quite literally – but the problem has not been solved.”