Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Mission: Adalah ("Justice" in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center. Established in November 1996, it works to promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, 1.2 million people, or 20% of the population, as well as Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
Aug 6, 2015

We succeeded in halting Prawer! & other victories.

HR training in al-Qrein by Khalil Al-Amour
HR training in al-Qrein by Khalil Al-Amour

Here is the final report on what we’ve done during the course of this project to help the Bedouin community stop home demolitions in the Negev/Naqab.

We’ve succeeded (along with a host of other actors), to halt the Prawer Plan! This is a HUGE achievement and we are very proud that you’ve played a significant role in bringing about this victory with your generous donation to this campaign.

Here are more details on how your kind donation has made and continues to make a real, tangible difference in the lives of the Palestinian Bedouin community in the Naqab, both in stopping the Prawer Plan and better guaranteeing that the people continue to remain on their lands and in their homes.

Our project to ‘Help Thousands of Bedouin to Stop Home Demolitions’ is officially being retired on GlobalGiving. This report summarizes our work over the past two years of the campaign and highlights its biggest achievements. If you want to continue to support our important work and the Palestinian Bedouin community in the Naqab, please see ‘Postscript’ at the bottom of this report to find out how.

1. Update on the Prawer Plan

Owing to the efforts of the project and those of various other actors, the Israeli government decided in December 2013 to halt the legislative process of the Prawer Plan Bill! Soon after, however, the government announced that it would continue pursuing the Prawer Plan, albeit within the Ministry of Agriculture. Since then, the legislative process has effectively remained stalled.

However, although the legislation remains frozen, demolitions of Bedouin homes in the Naqab remain a daily reality, and the state continues to approve and implement its development projects on top of Bedouin villages. 

2. Home demolition statistics

In response to Adalah's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for official statistics on the number of home demolitions in the Naqab for the year 2013, the state responded that it had demolished 572 homes in the "Bedouin sector". Adalah used this information for advocacy purposes, disseminating it in our reports and interventions to EU and UN human rights bodies. There was a very high percentage of self-demolitions by Bedouin owners, due to financial threats and coercions by the state.

3. What did your kind donation help us to do?

Your generous donation allowed us to do some crucial work – in litigation, awareness raising, human rights training of community members and international advocacy - in and with the community to ensure their right to property and their right to live in dignity:

i) Legal action: Adalah achieved the cancellation of 51 home demolition orders against the village of Alsira, following the court’s rejection of the state's  appeal. The Alsira success offers an important legal precedent, which Adalah will use for other villages, in order to challenge the state's discriminatory plans to demolish Bedouin unrecognized villages and evict residents from their homes and lands.

ii) Community empowerment: Adalah convened human rights awareness-raising workshops, together with our partner, the Negev Co-existence Forum. The community increased its documentation of human rights violations, and there was  high interest and participation among Bedouin citizens – men, women and youth - in the trainings. In 2014, we organized 7 human rights trainings – 3 for 29 women and 4 for 52 men (81 people in total) – in four unrecognized villages identified as being at high-risk of demolition by state authorities.

iii) Awareness-raising and advocacy locally and internationally:  Adalah organized more than 70 study tours in the Naqab for Latin American diplomats, Hebrew-language bloggers and Palestinian artists, among others. We conducted 3 international advocacy missions in 2014 as part of the project: two missions to UN bodies in Geneva, and one to the European Union in Brussels. We also achieved strong concluding observations on Israel by the UN Human Rights Committee on the rights of Bedouin citizens, and positive texts from the EU in its European Neighborhood Policy Progress Report on Israel on Bedouin citizens' rights. Highlight of international advocacy: In 10/14, Adalah conducted a mission to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) in Geneva, for its review of Israel’s compliance with the ICCPR The key concluding observations related to Arab Bedouin citizens were the Committee’s recommendations that Israel must: end its policies of punitive home demolitions, discriminatory planning and zoning, and forcible transfer and evictions of Arab Bedouin citizens in the Naqab, and in particular, to withdraw the Prawer Plan and its legislative arm, ensure that Bedouin citizens are fully included in the consultative process of their fate, and respect their rights to their ancestral land and their way of life (CO #9).

 Some of the main achievements during this period, and those that contributed to the stalling of the Prawer Plan, were:

i) Adalah’s legal strategies and case interventions were pivotal in protecting homes for hundreds of people and Bedouin villages from eviction and demolition by the state. Adalah achieved these results either by forcing the state to delay its plans by engaging it in legal cases, or by obtaining positive court decisions that cancelled discriminatory orders. Adalah’s legal services and expertise filled a major institutional need for the Bedouin community.

ii) The project’s awareness-raising activities played a significant part in the collective efforts to promote the rights of Bedouin citizens in the Naqab. Adalah became among the foremost sources of information on the human rights of the Bedouin, particularly in relation to the Prawer Plan, which allowed the project’s activities and products to be shared to a wide local and international audience.

4 Postscript

As you know, although the Prawer Plan has been successfully stalled, the home demolitions continue. More recently, on 5 May, the Israeli Supreme Court delivered a rather devastating decision for human rights when it decided that it was okay to demolish all the homes and evict all the residents of the Bedouin sister villages of Atir and Umm al-Hiran and in their place to settle Israeli Jews. This decision sets a very dangerous precedent that would facilitate future forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinian citizens for overtly discriminatory and racist reasons. In order to prevent this from happening, we’ve launched a new campaign to #Save_UmAlHiran. Join us in this new struggle and let’s make an even bigger impact than we did in our first campaign!

Community Visit to Al-Araqib in March 2014
Community Visit to Al-Araqib in March 2014
Latin American Embassy Reps on Tour
Latin American Embassy Reps on Tour
Nadia, Nadeem & Khalil @ UN ICCPR
Nadia, Nadeem & Khalil @ UN ICCPR's Review of IL
Khalil Al-Amour & the Al-Sira decision! No demos!
Khalil Al-Amour & the Al-Sira decision! No demos!

Links:

Jun 18, 2015

An Update Three Weeks into the Campaign

Kids of Umm al-Hiran returning home from school
Kids of Umm al-Hiran returning home from school

Here is an update on what we’ve done and what is coming up to #Save_UmAlHiran and how your kind donation is making a real, tangible difference

What we’ve done

Litigation: On 7 June, Adalah submitted an extraordinary motion to the Israeli Supreme Court (SCT) asking that it grant a second hearing before a wide panel of justices to reconsider its decision. The 5 May decision sets a dangerous historical precedent, breaking with past SCT caselaw and making it possible for the state to remove almost every Palestinian community in the country at any time, in the same way that would happen with Atir-Umm al-Hiran. We expect a decision from the SCT within a month. Read more here.  See also Haaretz.

Also, we have litigated in the Kiryat Gat Magistrates' Court on a parallel case concerning the demolition of Umm al-Hiran homes.

Advocacy: Also on 7 June, 29 human rights and civil society organizations in Israel, including Adalah, called the SCT ruling "unjust, racist and discriminatory" in a front-page ad published in Ha’aretz in Hebrew. An English ad will be published shortly.

Awareness-Raising and Mobilization: Adalah led a tour for 20 Palestine Works law student fellows from the US and Canada to Susiya and Umm al-Hiran. During the tour the students learned about Israel’s attempts at forced displacement of the Bedouin on both sides of the Green Line. See the press release. In addition, we hosted a ‘social media storm’ bus tour to Umm al-Hiran for 48 Arab new-media journalists, bloggers and photographers. We also led a tour to the village for more than a dozen Hebrew media journalists.

New Media Campaigning: Adalah, together with Hamleh: The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, released a video-illustration on YouTube that encapsulates the eviction of Umm al-Hiran’s residents in 40-seconds! Watch the video.

What’s coming up

-          US Advocacy: This week Adalah representatives in the US will give a lunchtime briefing for think-tanks, hosted by the Open Society Foundations, a briefing at the US State Department and participate in a meeting with the National Security Council (White House). 

-          Embassies in Israel: Next week, Adalah, together with our partner the Negev Co-existence Forum, will lead a briefing and tour for diplomats to Umm al-Hiran to raise awareness and step up international pressure against this discriminatory plan

How you can help

1.     Donate: Every dollar goes a long way. We will litigate, advocate and mobilize to #Save_UmAlHiran. Donating is a rewarding form of human rights activism. https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/save-umm-al-hiran/

2. Share our materials with friends and family on facebook: share the campaign donation page, share the latest updates & invite friends to follow us

3.     Join the struggle! Do you or the organization to which you belong believe in equality? Then be part of the legal and popular movement for the Palestinian Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran. Write nasser[at]adalah.org so we can get you on board.

Many thanks for standing with the community and for justice! We need to act today to send an urgent message to the Israeli government and the Israeli Supreme Court that it is absolutely unacceptable and anti-democratic for Arab Palestinians in Israel to be uprooted from their homes and lives so that an Israeli Jewish community can be settled in their place. If the decision is implemented, it would be possible for the state to remove almost every Palestinian community in the country at any time. Let’s act now!

In solidarity and thanks,

Rina Rosenberg (Jabareen)

International Advocacy Director, Adalah

Palestine Works delegation in Umm al-Hiran
Palestine Works delegation in Umm al-Hiran
Ali
Ali' al Farhoud from 'Atir, also facing eviction

Links:

May 12, 2015

With legal action, Bedouin citizens assert their civil and political rights

Attorney Mahameed & Sheikh Sayyah of Al-Araqib
Attorney Mahameed & Sheikh Sayyah of Al-Araqib

Adalah works through legal representation to defend and advance the rights of Arab Bedouin citizens in the Naqab in the face of efforts by the state of Israel to displace them from their lands and villages. Below are two examples of our cases from the first quarter of 2015.

1) Criminal indictments withdrawn against Sheikh S. A-T. from Al-Araqib:

Adalah Attorney Aram Mahameed: "The goal behind the indictments is to criminalize Arab Bedouin villagers for their attempts to save their homes."

On 24 February 2015, during a hearing in the Be'er Sheva Magistrates' Court, the state prosecution announced the withdrawal of criminal indictments against Sheikh S. A-T, leader of the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Al-Araqib in the Naqab. The prosecutors had charged the Sheikh with "forcibly taking control" of the village's land and "failing to obey orders to leave the land" after he refused to comply with eviction orders issued against him. The decision to withdraw the indictments was an indication, as Adalah argued before the court, that the state’s charges against Sheikh S. were legally baseless. The case is the last of a group of 14 criminal indictments filed against villagers and activists in Al-Araqib, who were arrested and injured during protests against home demolitions in the village in 2010 and 2011. In all of these cases, either the activists received very light sentences, or the state withdrew the charges, or the court cancelled the indictments.

2) Demanding public transportation for Bedouin voters in unrecognized villages on Election Day:

Adalah’s Khalil Alamour and Amjad Iraqi: “The Bedouin should not have to count how many cars are needed to demand recognition and equality at the ballot box.”

On 22 January 2015, Adalah sent a letter to Israel’s Central Elections Committee requesting that public transportation routes be provide for Bedouin residents of the Naqab in order to allow them to vote in the Israeli general election on 17 March 2015. The letter argued that the lack of public transportation impedes the residents' right to vote and directly influences voter levels in these villages. This is particularly damaging for residents of villages facing imminent home demolition or eviction, for whom the election results could make a major the difference. However, in March, shortly before the election, the Committee refused Adalah's request, stating that it “requires a large built system, and also requires resources and preparations that the elections committee cannot commit to," Despite this decision, Adalah highlighted the obstacles to Bedouin voters’ rights for future efforts, and also raised awareness in the media about the issue.

This legal work is made possible through your contributions via Global Giving – thank you! As we continue our work, we hope that you will help us reach our goal of raising $20,000 so that Adalah can continue to support the Bedouin community with high-quality legal representation, in-depth study tours for influential stakeholders, and practical human rights workshops for Bedouin activists. Together we can struggle to halt the ongoing forced displacement and dispossession, and work to ensure that the Bedouin can remain in their homes and on their lands with dignity.

Please join us and stand for Adalah, stand for Justice!

Naqab Tour with Central Elections Committee
Naqab Tour with Central Elections Committee

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