Al Rashayda, the Bedouin Village

Bedouins roamed Palestine for thousands of years, moving to the hills in early April and returning down into the valleys in early September. They roamed freely and herded sheep and cattle, their main source of livelihood.

The Rashayda Bedouins were also once a proud nomadic tribe. Today they live in a forced settlement of stone huts 50 km southeast of Bethlehem. The village has around 1 500 inhabitants, almost the half of them are children.

There are two schools, one mosque and a little shop selling cheap sweets and drinks. The village has no electricity supply. A few villagers own a generator and have power for two hours per day. For these hours, their rooms fill up with villagers who come to watch their TV. The rest sit at home around a gas lamp and discuss politics and family matters.

Every Rashayda family has a flock of sheep. Livestock rearing is a major source of income. Sheep, goats and camels provide not only economic security, but are also a central part of Bedouin culture and ceremonies. After school, children take the animals to graze keeping their traditions alive. Nevertheless, Bedouin life has become very difficult in recent years. They have been regularly attacked by the Israeli military in the context of planned development of the West Bank.

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