*NEW* Search Our Team Reports! Type a word/phrase in the box below (hint: try "settlers').


Israeli Treatment of Orphans

Israeli Treatment of Palestinian Orphans:
1. Confiscation of Orphanage Supplies and Buildings
2. Displacement of Orphans with no Alternative Shelter
3. Lack of any Compensation to the Palestinians

On April 24, 2008, the Michigan Peace Team in Palestine, along with YMCA-Hebron and Library on Wheels-Hebron, co-sponsored a press conference coordinated by the Christian Peacemakers Team in Hebron at the Al-Shari’yah Girls Orphanage. The objective was to bring attention to the illegal confiscation and destruction of Palestinian property by the Israeli government. On March 6, 2008, the Israeli government, under the cover of darkness, confiscated $300,000 in school, food, and clothing supplies. These supplies included donations from the World Food Bank, Catholic Relief Services, and UN Refugee Services. That same night, Israel welded the doors shut on a new $2.0 million Palestinian girls’ school and has since also raided/destroyed two bakeries that supplied the schools. The boys’ school had a new administration building constructed two years ago, and it was immediately locked by the Israeli government with no one allowed use since.

Eric at the Boys School

New Administration Building Closed by Israeli Army

Orphanage Residents Protesting Israeli Seizure of Food and Supplies

Bakery Destroyed by Israelis During the Night

New Girls School - Doors Welded Shut by Israelis During Night

The Israeli government has given the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) an order it intends to confiscate three schools serving 1,705 students, two orphanages serving 240 children, and related facilities. The society also serves 4,000 additional students and 5,000 needy families through these facilities with a staff of 700 teachers, counselors, and support staff. The Islamic Charitable Society has been in existence since 1962. It operates many services in support of children and the poor and receives aid from many worldwide relief agencies. Its employees include the broad spectrum of Palestinians with many different political leanings, but no one political group controls it. The Palestinian Authority (PA) curriculum is adheared to in its schools and orphanages.

The Israeli government attempts to claim Hamas influence, but the military have not documented it as ordered by the Israeli High Court. However, the Israeli army is not deterred by its lack of evidence and has historically claimed the existence of secret evidence that cannot be released for security reasons. This makes it impossible for the ICS to defend itself. ICS records and operations are open for review, including financial records audited by the PA, and the Israeli government should be able to publicly document any violations.

Once the Israeli government confiscates these buildings and supplies, they revert to Israeli ownership, becoming an asset of the Israeli government to do with as they wish.
Under International Law (Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, of which the US is a party), it is a war crime for an occupying nation to not provide for the welfare, education, health, or essential services to the occupied population. Forcible displacement of people, including orphans, could fit the war crime criteria. When considered in the context of the broader historical pattern –of Israeli arrest and detention of Palestinian children for undocumented offenses, the displacement of Palestinians from their land without compensation, the absence of the right to confront one’s accuser, and restriction of Palestinian travel (through the use of a network of checkpoints or individuals confined to certain areas) – the motivations of the Israeli government becomes more suspect in the context of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

April 25, 2008 Al-Khadr Demonstration

Al-Khadr is a Palestinian village taken by the Israeli government for military use in 1967, later for conversion into an Israeli settlement called Efrat, and finally to build a road for the exclusive use of Israelis. Nineteen homes were originally built in the 1920’s, and the Palestinians still have the legal documents showing ownership. There is a legality issue within the Israeli courts over military confiscation of these lands. Despite this, the homes were taken in 1967 by the Israeli army and were used by the military for seven years. Two military bases and six watchtowers were built by Israel and used to shell Bethlehem during the Second Intifada. After 1967, the Palestinians continued farming and herding the land. However, during the Second Intifada, Palestinians could not harvest their crops, and with the completion of the construction of the Israeli Apartheid Wall, 4,000 acres will be cut-off from farming. When the Wall and the exclusive Israeli highway are completed, farmers will be allowed only 2 hours per day to cross the highway for access to the lands that are still available, one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening.

The Israeli settlement Efrat is where the settler Egal Amir, the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, had lived. Egal Amir was fanatically bitter about Rabin negotiating with the Palestinians.

Palestinians again held a peaceful protest on Friday, April 25. There were some military present on the hills surrounding the demonstration. Michigan Peace Team in Palestine and about 75 others attended the protest in which an Imam said some prayers. After the prayers, the group peacefully left.

MPT in Palestine attempted to get some pictures of the entry point to the nearby Israeli exclusive road, an Israeli watchtower, and the vacated houses and land of Al Khadr. The military apparently became annoyed by the team’s presence, as Martha, Eric, and Walt were detained by six soldiers for about half an hour. The soldiers accused the team members of taking pictures of military installations. The installation was a small tower that has been unmanned for more than a year. Finally, the blue uniformed Israeli police arrived, giving the team a warning to return to Jerusalem and not to Bethlehem because there was trouble there. According to Israeli law, it is legal to take pictures of Israeli soldiers and jeeps but not official military installations.
April 24, 2008 Arrested Teenagers Update

There was some good news about the two brothers (13 and 14 year old) in Hebron that were arrested, blindfolded, and handcuffed by the Israeli government for over six hours last week (see previous MPT report: http://mptinpalestine.blogspot.com/2008/04/hebron-city-divided.html). The community raised the 1,500 shekels ($430) to pay the Israeli government, though no charges were ever filed, continuing the attempt to run out families through economic means.

No comments: