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Rahat • רהט • رهط


Yossi Maimon, assistant to the director of the authority, said it would decide in the coming days how to proceed with the marketing of the plots. We knew it would be complicated and problematic and therefore we took into account that we might have to transfer it to another location, he said.

For Rahat residents, rights groups and Krenawi, the large turnout and fact that it greatly exceeded the number of available plots is clear proof of what they consider to be an obvious fact of life: that there is an acute housing shortage. But there is a huge perceptual gap and divergent narratives between the authorities and those under their purview. Maimon disputes that there is any housing problem in Rahat, even after Tuesday's fiasco.

For Hasanat, crowding and a shortage of housing fuels crime, violence and other social ills. You don't have to be Freud or Einstein to understand the problem. There is a huge growth in population on the one hand and on the other they don't provide municipalities with the areas they need or market housing. He likens the living conditions of some Rahat residents to a jail cell, to Guantanamo.

Sanaa Ibn Bari, responsible for Beduin rights at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said Rahat is the victim of discriminatory policies going back decades. When the government designed those townships, the planning aspect was lacking. It was done not according to the needs of the communities, but to concentrate population. The population is growing and its needs are growing, but nothing has changed. Rahat is failing because there is no strategic way of looking at the future and how it will accommodate all those people.

This is the direct result of poor planning that started in the 1970s and '80s, but we can see the results today.

Maimon dismisses the criticisms. There is no distress. Talk of a housing shortage is cheap demagoguery. He said that 5,000 units have been marketed in recent years and that there are hundreds of unused plots that could accommodate thousands of housing units.

Plans call for the marketing of an additional 5,000 housing units in the southern part of Rahat near where the 900 plots are being marketed, he said. Three other neighborhoods will be opened up, he added. From the point of view of solutions for those in need, there shouldn't be any problem. The problem is there are battles between clans over who holds more land. We are trying to prevent a situation in which the rich families hold all the land and to make it possible for less well off families to buy plots.

Kernawi, asked about the difference between his own and Maimon's depiction of the situation, said: For 10 years these people are giving a wrong message. They aren't here on the ground.

Jerusalem Post,