Want to understand the neglect that leads to Bedouin crime? Start with the dogs

In Israel of 2021, lethal packs of wild dogs are roaming free across the Negev, terrifying locals. One toddler was mauled to death and an elderly woman was badly injured. These feral animals thrive on the carcasses and garbage that are readily available in unregulated dumps across the Negev. This might sound like the script for a dystopian Netflix show, but it’s very real – and residents have no answer for the wild dogs or the authorities, which have failed them time and time again.

In Israel of 2021, lethal packs of wild dogs are roaming free across the Negev, terrifying locals. One toddler was mauled to death and an elderly woman was badly injured. These feral animals thrive on the carcasses and garbage that are readily available in unregulated dumps across the Negev. This might sound like the script for a dystopian Netflix show, but it’s very real – and residents have no answer for the wild dogs or the authorities, which have failed them time and time again.

In Israel of 2021, lethal packs of wild dogs are roaming free across the Negev, terrifying locals. One toddler was mauled to death and an elderly woman was badly injured. These feral animals thrive on the carcasses and garbage that are readily available in unregulated dumps across the Negev. This might sound like the script for a dystopian Netflix show, but it’s very real – and residents have no answer for the wild dogs or the authorities, which have failed them time and time again.

Roni Singer

Photo: Shlomi Yosef

December 17, 2021

Summary

Packs of wild dogs have been multiplying across the Negev, feeding on the piles of garbage that have sprouted up at unregulated and untreated dumps. This is the visual image that best encapsulates the state’s neglect of its “backyard” in the south of the country, and especially among its Bedouin residents. “This is a case of utter lack of governance – and it’s infuriating. The state isn’t part of this story,” says Dr. Yehoshua Shakedi, chief scientist at the Nature and Parks Authority. “The state is absent from our villages,” says one resident of the Bedouin town of Bir Hadaj. “We’re on our own.”

Very few residents of Bir Hadaj, the hometown of the 4-year-old toddler who was mauled to death by wild dogs, agreed to talk to us. Those who did say that while the dogs might pose a severe threat to their safety, they are not the main problem. Salman Abu Gardud, who lives in the town, points to various homes and tells us who was attacked where. “A woman was bitten here,” he says, “and a pack attacked the man who lives here.” He takes us to visit Awad, a young man with disabilities who was attacked by a pack of dogs six months ago. From there, we continue to the home of Hayidah, an elderly woman who was attacked by the same pack outside her house just a few weeks ago. The dogs knocked her over, bit her all over her body, and were only driven away when several passersby stepped in.

“People keep their children home after dark, which is when the packs start prowling. Anyone who raises sheep lives in constant fear that the dogs will snatch their livestock. It’s like something out of a movie,” Abu Gardud says.

Salman Abu Khamid, the head of the local council, has livestock. “Just 10 days, a pack of dogs got into the enclosure and killed one animal. We’re too scared to send children out to tend the livestock. It’s terrifying. Some people feel so helpless that they use poison. And that means financial losses. Sometimes, you can lose thousands of shekels in a single night.”

Shakedi confirms that “the number of wild dogs has increased massively. Their numbers have shot up from 3,000 to around 50,000. You won’t see them in Tel Aviv, but they’re all over the country – especially in the south.” According to Yael Arkin, general manager of the Let the Animals Live NGO, 60 percent of the wild dogs in Israel can be found in the Negev.

This is a summary of shomrim's story published in Hebrew.
To read the full story click here.