Tuesday, February 27, 2024

During their murderous Oct. 7 rampage, Hamas militants attacked Zikkim Beach near the Gaza Strip where Abd Alrahman Aatef Ziadna and his family had been camping along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr. Ziadna, 26, was slain inside his tent, and four members of his Bedouin family vanished.

Since the slaughter of 1,400 Israelis and foreigners by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, the world’s sympathies have focused on the Jewish communities closest to Gaza, where many of the victims lived. Atrocities were also committed against one of Israel’s more hidden minorities, Bedouin Arabs.

At least 17 people killed in the Hamas attacks were Bedouins from villages scattered around the Negev and Rahat, the biggest city in an impoverished, predominantly Bedouin area of southern Israel. Another victim there was an Arab paramedic from northern Israel who had come to work at the all-night music and dance festival where 260 people were slain.

Ayesha Ziadna, 29, a relative of the Ziadnas who were attacked on the beach, said that the four members of the family who disappeared are still missing, as are a number of other residents of the area, though the exact number was not immediately clear.

Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha, who grew up in the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva, said she rushed to her hospital in Beer Sheva as the staff scrambled to treat hundreds of patients that day, including victims who had lost limbs and others who had been shot, including Bedouins. They treated children, seniors and foreigners too.

Hamas did not directly target Bedouins, but “rockets and bullets don’t discriminate,” Dr. Fraiha said.

In the wake of the attacks many Bedouins have lost their livelihoods at Israeli farms that were ransacked, creating extreme hardships for an already struggling community. “There are a lot of people who are suffering,” Ms. Ziadna said. “Many people are out of jobs. People are scared.”

Even before the recent attacks, Bedouins had long suffered at the hands of Hamas. Because many live in villages not recognized by Israel, they mostly lack the bomb shelters and health clinics that the government has made widely available in southern Israel. Even in Rahat, with a population of about 80,000, there were only about 10 bomb shelters, the city’s mayor, Ata Abu Mediam, told the Israeli news media.

When Hamas fires rockets, the people have nowhere to go, Ms. Ziadna said. The largely aluminum roofs of the Bedouin homes turn into deadly shrapnel, which she called “knives.” Hamas rockets killed several members of one Bedouin community.

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