Swords of Iron
Emergency Projects During the War
Like all Israeli citizens, the ongoing Swords of Iron war has devastated the Bedouin community in Southern Israel. At least 21 Bedouin men, women and children were killed on October 7th and six have been kidnapped. Ongoing rocket-fire and disruption of public transportation and social services has exacerbated the situation for many across the region. Many Bedouin work in blue collar jobs in fields that have stopped completely since the war began and the lack of salary means their families are starving. At the same time, thousands of Jewish families have been evacuated from border areas and have been relocated to temporary shelters without access to their belongings.
Nearly 100,000 Bedouin live in ‘unrecognized villages’ throughout the Negev that lack infrastructure such as electricity, roads, and bomb shelters. Dozens of such villages lack any form of safe spaces to take shelter in during rocket attacks.
WE ARE OPERATING ONGOING PROJECTS TO ADDRESS THESE DIRE NEEDS:
Four leading Israeli NGOs came together to create a solution for Jewish and Arab families in the South: Desert Stars, Itach Maaki, the Rahat Community Center, and ‘Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?’
Each day, dozens of Jewish and Arab volunteers together organize, pack, and deliver desperately needed food boxes to hundreds of Bedouin and Jewish families across the Negev.
A JOINT OPERATIONS CENTER
FOR NEEDY FAMILIES IN THE SOUTH:
Following a thorough mapping of needs, our Community and Alumni Departments are installing bomb shelters in the communities that receive the most rocket-fire. Reinforced metal containers were donated by ICL.
Our team digs a space to bury the container on 3 sides, offering essential protection. As of December 20th, we have placed 110 bomb shelters, and aim to reach 200. This project is in cooperation with Yanabiya NGO.
SHELTERS IN UNRECOGNIZED VILLAGES
Many villages are far from emergency services or hospitals. To empower local residents, we trained alumni who committed to organizing and hosting first aid workshops in their home communities. These first aid workshops have already begun.
Here, Deia Nsasra explains the contents of the first aid kit that all participants received at the training he organized for parents at a local school in Rahat. 170 residents have been trained thus far in how to provide life-saving aid until ambulances arrive.
FIRST AID COURSES IN BEDOUIN VILLAGES
Since many Bedouin households lack stable, high speed internet and computers, remote learning was not an option when the educational frameworks shut down. To provide a partial solution, Desert Stars organized small group activities in a variety of villages in accordance from the Home Front Command’s safety instructions.
Each group is led by our graduates who live locally and know the families and their needs. Graduates receive close guidance from our Educational and Training Department and Social Worker and are providing essential opportunities to take a break from the tension, have fun and develop their emotional resilience.
Nearly every Jewish male staff member, including our co-CEO Ariel Viezel, has been called for reserve duty. Others have been evacuated from their homes and/or are home with young children whose schools lack bomb shelters. Rocket fire continues across the region. And yet, we have worked hard to create a wartime routine for our educational programs.
As soon as the Homefront Command permitted, we brought our high school students back to campus for in person learning, one of the first schools in the region to do so. The days are currently shorter than usual, and we are prioritizing classes and workshops addressing resilience and emotional health, alongside core STEM subjects essential for future success.
The men’s program had been nearly one month into its Outdoor Leadership Program hiking across Israel when the war broke out. The dorms at Kibbutz Ruhama where our participants usually stay were rightfully rerouted to house evacuees from Otef Aza. Program Director Diab Alghlban immediately created a new daily framework that combines volunteering, workshops, and zoom classes for this year’s 36 participants.
Desert Stars High School
Men's Gap Year Program
Program Director Basma Abu Hani redesigned the program in light of the war. 35 participants now split their time between Rahat, Wadi Attir near Hura, and volunteering projects in the community. Basma is emphasizing the importance of exploring and accepting one’s feelings about the situation, rather than repressing them, and utilizing our ‘Turning Point’ course to provide them with tools for addressing feelings of uncertainty.
Additionally, the group is exploring the role of women in Bedouin society and how the status of women might be changed during this tumultuous time.
Women's Gap Year Program
We are heartened to see that our model is successful in times of crisis. Our alumni immediately mobilized to create dozens of initiatives, large and small, in their home communities to address needs in real time. Over 100 alumni have participated in organizational frameworks for volunteering, including the joint operations room in Rahat, agricultural harvesting, the Hura emergency support center, installing bomb shelters, and operating free day cares to allow parents to work while schools were closed.
The core of our youth movement is volunteering, so we began activity as soon as the Homefront Command allowed, according to the restrictions on each town. Our focus is bringing cheer to residents during this horrific time. To date, 14 groups began the year, with another 3 set to open in late November, totaling 450 participants.
מרכז כוכבי המדבר, להב, ד.נ נגב 8533500
טלפון כללי: 08-929-8588
טלפון בית הספר: 08-9913391
דואר אלקטרוני: firstname.lastname@example.org
مركز نجوم الصحراء، لاهاف، دن النقب 8533500
Desert Stars Center, Lahav, DN Negev 8533500