The Negev Desert Economics
of Stone Throwing

unrecognized bedouin settlements, Google Earthunrecognized bedouin settlements, Scroll down for a live Google Earth map

A friend of mine is a nurse at the Soroka Hospital in Be'er-Sheva, the Capital of the Negev Desert.

She has a problem:
The hospital wants her to take night shifts, something she hadn't done in years, because she refuses to go into any Bedouin villages on the taxi route to work. 

She didn't mind riding thru the Bedouin villages until they started stoning the hospital taxis and ambulances. So she told the transportation captain she won't take that route again. 

Why does the taxi need to go there at all? To pick up the Bedouin nurses, obviously. They need to get to work, too.


Multi-cultural Staff at Soroka Hospital

To get along in Soroka you need to speak Russian, Arabic, Amharic, English, and then maybe some Hebrew :)

The hospital's staff is a good representation of the Negev demographics. My mother was hospitalized there recently. The nurse on duty was, you guessed, a young Bedouin woman.
She wore a hijab, and long modest sleeves under her nurse's uniform. She was very professional and very nice. In her own society, she is a rebel and just maybe a traitor too. It's her own people who stone the hospital taxi that brings her, and my Jewish-nurse friend to work. 

Bedouin Man sitting on the ground, Soroka Hospital, Beer ShevaBedouin Man sitting on the ground, Soroka Hospital, Beer Sheva

Capital of the Negev Desert

Soroka is the only serious medical facility in the desert that makes up the southern half of Israel. It services about 1.2 million people, 240,000 of which are the fast-growing Bedouin population. (2016 central bureau of statistics)

Much of the staff live in the many small settlements around Be'er Sheva.
The hospital assigns taxis to take them to work and back home.
Now get this:
The hospital wards need to clear the nurse's schedule each week with the transportation captain.
Professional medical staffing priorities are, apparently, not economic. Nope.
First let's see who lives where and figure out the minimum number of cars to send. Then the transportation captain decides which nurse works which shift.

He tells the ward's head nurse that my friend will simply have to take care of herself. If she wants a taxi she can take the night shift with the nurses from another route, one that is 'worth sending a car for'.

The Cost

Someone will pay for this.

Either the hospital will hold up its end, and pay for another cab. (Or be made to pay by the nurse's union.)

Or the nurse will pay – driving her own family car to work, with no one to cover her expenses. In this case her family will pay too – by inconvenience and time and finding another way to get around on their day, because the family car is gone. 

If transportation costs get the last word, and the hospital insists she rides thru the stoning or else take up night shifts again, the nurse will quit. She will have no problem finding another job. The hospital however will have great trouble replacing her, and so the public will pay.
Pay in understaffed hospital wards, with less professional treatment.

Everybody loses.

This map starts you in Bedouin-land. Scroll out a bit, and look around, to see the extent of the bedouin settlement. Be'er Sheva, with the Soroka Hospital, is to the west (scroll left, past Tel-Sheva, which is a large 'yes-recognized' Bedouin Town).

Solution?

All we have to do, then, is get the Bedouins to stop stoning the hospital vehicles, right?

Funny. Very funny.

One morning while my mom was hospitalized, I came in to see the Soroka E.R. swamped with the victims of a riot.
The Israeli government showed some backbone for once, and took down houses that were built illegally in Umm-el Hiran, a Bedouin village. To make a very long story short, one cop and one Bedouin man were killed.

Bedouins are Israeli citizens.
This is an internal problem. People in Tel Aviv, which mentally, is a million miles away, only care about the "Poor Palestinians", who excel at making a lot of noise. 

But Be'er Sheva? That's like, in THE SOUTH, isn't it? 

It's just so far away.





A little more cheerful aspects of living in Israel:

The 2013 Gay Parade 

Cafe kiosks in Tel Aviv - where startups are born

Alternative methods of getting around in Tel Aviv


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