Around 30 clergy and their wives headed south to the Negev to visit historical and biblical sites as part of Sabeel’s annual clergy trip. They came from different areas in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel; but unfortunately, many in the West Bank could not obtain permits for the trip.
The Sabeel staff met the clergy and their wives at the Jerusalem and Nazareth Sabeel offices. Then they all met at the Latrun Monastery on their way to Al-Naqab, where they enjoyed a light breakfast and had the opportunity to introduce themselves to each other.
Their next stop was at the village of Tel Sheva to see archeological sites, including an ancient water well from Abraham’s time. There, Abu Nabil, a representative from The Bedouin Committee for Unrecognized Villages, spoke to the group of the unrecognized villages where the Bedouins– all citizens of Israel – live without secure housing structures, electricity and other essential services.
Tens of thousands of people in these impoverished communities, hundreds of years old, are threatened by the Israeli government’s Prawer Plan, he explained. This plan would evict them from their ancestral land and relocate them for the benefit of Israeli Jewish citizens. The Prawer Plan was defeated in the Israeli Knesset in November 2013, and temporarily placed on hold.
The group then visited the Women of Lakiya where the founder of this organization, Nimeh Sanee’, told the clergy and their wives about their embroidery-selling project and their literacy program to teach Bedouin women to read. The women then provided the group lunch in typical Bedouin style.
The last stop was a visit to the village of Tel Arad where excavations are taking place, including two castles of King Solomon and an ancient housing unit. The Rev. Kamal Farah, who specializes in archeology relating to the Bible, the Church, and the Palestinian people, led a tour of the sites.
The day trip ended with the group traveling along the route of the Dead Sea to the Deir Hejleh Monastery where everyone rested before parting ways. The feeling among the group was that it was a blessed day. The clergy and their wives were grateful for the contacts they made with the Bedouin communities and left with hope and plans to bring people from their church congregations on the same trip to Al-Naqab.