Oct 1, 2020

Economic Justice: Demanding more equitable budgets for Arab towns and citizens in Israel

Arab children going to school. photo: Arab 48
Arab children going to school. photo: Arab 48

Dear friends,

Best wishes from Adalah for good health and wellbeing to you and your loved ones.

During the past two months, Adalah has taken a series of legal actions demanding economic justice for the Palestinian community in Israel. Arab citizens have suffered decades of state neglect and discrimination in the allocation of state economic resources as Israeli authorities have privileged Jewish towns and communities in the receipt of state benefits in every possible field, including in housing, land development and education.

One of the major cases that we filed to the Israeli Supreme Court on 6 September 2020 demands a just provision of state subsidies for after-school programs in Arab towns in the Misgav Regional Council (MRC) in the north of Israel. Adalah filed the petition on behalf of parents of Arab children and the Follow-Up Committee for Arab Education, an NGO that represents that Arab leadership in Israel in the field of education.

The six Arab towns that are part of the MRC have among the lowest socio-economic levels in the country, while the other 29 Israeli Jewish towns that are part of the MRC, rank among the highest. As the Ministry of Education’s distribution of financial aid is determined based on the ranking of a regional council, as a whole, and not that of each town, the MRC is considered as a wealthy regional council. Thus, Arab parents living in the Arab towns are forced to pay participation fees similar to that of the neighboring wealthy Jewish towns, despite the huge economic gaps between them. The end result is that Arab families are not able to afford the program fees. This outcome is contrary to the Education Ministry’s aim for the after-school program, which is “to reduce socio-economic gaps by helping parents with after school assistance”. 

Adalah requested in the petition to the Supreme Court that the ministry allocate the funding based on each town’s socio-economic ranking, and not that of a regional council.Thousands of Arab pupils and their families can be positively affected if the state changes its policy.

In another major case filed in August 2020, Adalah demanded that Arab towns in the Triangle area of Israel, in the center of the country, be provided with socio-economic developmental benefits similar to those granted by the state to nearby Jewish towns. Adalah, in cooperation with The Arab Center for Alternative Planning and the Public Committee for the Defense of Land and Housing in Wadi Ara, petitioned the Supreme Court on behalf of all Arab towns in Wadi ‘Ara and 74 area residents, Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Despite the huge economic gaps existing between the neighboring Jewish and Arab localities in this area, the Israeli authorities have consistently favored the former based on national belonging. The wealthier Israeli Jewish towns are designated as “National Priority Areas” (NPAs) and subsequently receive development and housing benefits and land discounts from the Israel Land Authority, while the adjacent overcrowded and poor Arab towns, being left out of the NPR, lack basic developmental resources. The petitioners demanded to end government policy discriminating against Arab communities in the Triangle in the distribution of housing, construction, and land development benefits. At stake in this case is millions of shekels for the development of these towns and for the benefits of their citizens.

Adalah continues to demand equitable budgets from the state for Arab communities in Israel, especially as they have been up against extremely severe economic difficulties since the start of the Covid-19 crisis in mid-March 2020.

Among Adalah’s major successes during this period was securing equitable state funds for Arab towns to mitigate the financial damages of Covid-19. Following Adalah’s petition to the Supreme Court, filed in May 2020 on behalf of the Arab Mayors Committee, Israeli authorities agreed to increase budgets to Arab towns to an amount almost equivalent to that which was demanded – specifically NIS 200 million (almost US $60 million) - by taking into account the characteristics of the damage done to Arab communities during the coronavirus period, mainly due to loss of income from municipal taxes.

Adalah will continue to struggle for economic justice for Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel through strategic litigation. The equitable and just distribution of state funds are crucial to maintain the already deteriorating economy of the Palestinian community in Israel and to prevent its collapse, particularly in these very trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you again and always for your support.

Sep 10, 2020

Challenging Israel's measures censoring freedom of protest online

Photo: Israeli Cyber Unit website
Photo: Israeli Cyber Unit website

Dear Friends,

Warm regards.  We hope you are keeping safe and healthy through these challenging times.

In early August 2020, the Israeli Supreme Court (SCT) held a hearing on our “Cyber Unit” case filed by Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). Following the hearing, the SCT issued an “order to show cause” – meaning that it found a strong legal basis for the case – and mandated state authorities to explain under which legal authority the state operates its “Cyber Unit”, which conducts censorship of online speech.

The Israeli Cyber Unit, which is part of the State Attorney’s Office, flags and submits content removal requests– without any formal legal proceedings– to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, and asks these platforms to “voluntarily” remove user-generated content according to the platforms’ own terms of service.

Adalah and ACRI filed the petition in November 2019 demanding to put an end to Israeli  censorship of freedom of expression on social media platforms. The case followed two years of complaints by Adalah that the Israeli Cyber Unit has been unlawfully issuing content removal requests to major social media providers.

Israeli authorities have long attempted to silence Palestinian free speech online, cracking down on Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians living under Occupation in the OPT for publishing content critical of the state’s policies. The right for free speech on the internet has become even more crucial since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020. Palestinian and Israeli activists alike have utilized the internet as a main platform for voicing their dissent with the government’s discriminatory practices.

During the course of litigating the petition, state authorities have failed to respond to the Court’s repeated inquiries regarding the legal authority by which the Cyber Unit acts, emphasizing that the social networks themselves, rather than the State, are the bodies that actually remove user content from their platforms. In fact and ironically, the state is arguing before the Court that there is “no state action” in this case!

In this interim ruling in August, the Supreme Court also ordered the state to present similar mechanisms of internet referral units used in other countries, and to clarify the mechanisms’ respective legal authorities.

Censorship of internet-based activism not only deprives activists from practicing their right to express their views, but also violates the right of other users to access to the censored content.

Adalah will continue, via legal interventions, to challenge Israel’s use of online suppressive means in order to ensure Palestinians’ freedom of speech.

Thank-you for your support.

Aug 19, 2020

We continue to challenge the harmful effects of Covid-19 on Palestinians

Schoolchildren in Naqab. Photo: Amir Abu Kaf
Schoolchildren in Naqab. Photo: Amir Abu Kaf

Dear Friends,

Many greetings to you from Adalah! We hope that you are healthy and safe. Adalah is continuing in August 2020 to tackle the ongoing and evolving impact of the COVID-19 on Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Since mid-March 2020, Adalah has undertaken over 40 emergency legal actions, including 12 petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court, to confront the COVID-19 crisis. While this this work was covered by local and international media, Adalah convened webinars for the local and international community to raise awareness, and worked closely with other civil society groups and coalitions to fight against discriminatory practices. Thus far, Adalah has succeeded in securing access to health services, promoting dignified living conditions, and protecting civil liberties.

Among our major achievements throughout the coronavirus crisis:

  • The opening of COVID-19 testing centers and clinics in the Naqab, Triangle, Upper Galilee, and East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and by the Qalandya checkpoint.
  • An Israeli Supreme Court decision accepting our argument that there is no legal authority for the government to expand the powers and use of the secret Shin Bet security service (“the Shabak”) for cellphone surveillance of coronavirus patients and other citizens.
  • The cancellation of emergency regulations allowing to put over 4,300 pregnant women on unpaid leave without a special permit from the Labor Ministry.
  • The securing of NIS 200 million (aroundUS $59 million) in state funds- the amount requested by Arab local municipalities in Israel to mitigate the COVID-19 financial damages for the first three months of the crisis.

Israel is currently facing a second-wave of the coronavirus health crisis, and together with its political, social and economic implications, the pandemic is expected to cast its shadow upon us for a long time. As we go forward, Adalah will continue to undertake legal cases and interventions in our three main fields to mitigate the dangerous ramifications and grave threat posed by the coronavirus.

Access to healthcare: Adalah will work to ensure that the government’s emergency response does not leave Palestinian communities unnecessarily exposed to the pandemic through substandard protection and limited access to testing and emergency medical services, and future treatments and vaccines, particularly in the unrecognized Bedouin villages and East Jerusalem.

Dignified living conditions Adalah is currently working on cases toward the opening of the new school year as many Arab schools in Israel lack the funds to prepare the schools to meet the Health Ministry’s guidelines. Of particular concern is access for 50,000 Bedouin children in the Naqab, who live in villages that lack electricity and the internet or have no computers, to in-person studies as well to distance learning. Adalah is monitoring and working on securing government action to prevent unnecessary deterioration in the already poor living conditions of Palestinians, by demanding equal access to state aid funding, unemployment benefits and tax relief measures for Arab citizens of Israel during the economic crisis. Further, Adalah is continuing to defend the rights of thousands of Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israeli prisons, who are isolated from the outside world and left with little to no protection due to overcrowding, lack of adequate hygiene and sanitation, and lack of access to visits and phone calls by family members and lawyers.

Protection of civil liberties: Adalah will continue to intervene legally to prevent the government from resorting to and exploiting Emergency Regulations. Adalah is challenging comprehensive coronavirus legislation, and we recently filed a major case demanding the cancellation of “corona fines” issued to thousands of individuals, due to the lack of clarity in the rules and the arbitrariness of their enforcement.

The following Adalah newsletters documented our extensive coronavirus-related work: Adalah’s News, March 2020; Adalah’s News, April 2020; Adalah's News, May 2020, and Adalah’s News, July 2020.


For more on Adalah’s coronavirus work to date, see links under Additional Documentation and Resources.


Thank you for your support.

Mobile Coronavirus testing clinic in Naqab
Mobile Coronavirus testing clinic in Naqab
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