Bedouin PopulationA Likud MK clashed with the head of the Nature Reserves Authority today over allegations that the so-called “Green Patrols” mistreated the Bedouin population in the Negev and Sinai. MK Dror Seigerman contended that harassment by the patrols caused the Bedouins to cooperate with terrorist organizations.

Avraham Yaffe, whose Nature Reserves Authority operates the patrols, denounced the charges as a “blood libel” against the Bedouins and the patrols. The Green Patrols were formed six years ago to prevent the misuse of State-owned lands. Much of their activity was aimed against Bedouin shepherds who graze their sheep at nature preserves, military training areas or other unauthorized lands. Yaffe said the patrols took action against anybody who violated the law, not just Bedouins.

Seigerman recently wrote to Agriculture Minister Simcha Ehrlich, who has final authority over the patrols, to freeze their activities until the matter is fully reviewed. According to Seigerman, the Bedouins traditional loyalty to the State was eroded because they were persecuted by the patrols.

Yaffe conceded that many Bedouins have complained to the police about Green Patrol activity but none of the complaints was found to have merit, he said. He said that in every case brought before the Supreme Court, the Green Patrols were exonerated.