May 31, 2017

International actors are alerted of Umm al-Hiran's struggle, thanks to your support

Attorney Suhad Bishara speaking about Umm al-Hiran
Attorney Suhad Bishara speaking about Umm al-Hiran

Dear ally,

In the past few months, Senior Attorney Suhad Bishara, the director of Adalah’s Land and Planning Rights Unit, gave presentations before international actors to raise awareness of the legal and human rights consequences of the impending demolition of Umm al-Hiran. Around 700 Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel will be evicted, according to the state's plan, in order to establish a new Jewish town to be called "Hiran", over the ruins of their homes.

These discussions were fruitful and important: they enhanced European officials’ understanding of the realities on the ground in the Naqab (Negev), and highlighted the urgent need to protect the rights of the Bedouin citizens of Israel living in Umm al-Hiran.

In late January 2017, Adalah joined partner organizations CIDSE, an international alliance of Catholic development agencies, and the Jerusalem Legal Aid Center (JLAC), for an awareness-raising visit and seminar in Brussels for European Union (EU) and EU member state officials about forced displacement and to mark the publication of the report ‘No Place Like Home,’ to which Adalah had contributed.

Attorney Bishara spoke about a new governmental plan, “Prawer II”, which outlines a framework to expedite procedures to demolish unrecognized Naqab Bedouin villages like Umm al-Hiran. Its previous incarnation, Prawer I, was frozen in December 2013 following extensive international pressure and local opposition. Read our paper about the new plan.

The two-day visit and seminar was accompanied by a photo exhibition with images of Umm al-Hiran provided by Adalah, which included haunting scenes from the night before an expected demolition in November 2016, which was successfully prevented due in large part to community and media mobilization. See the photos here.

In March 2017, Adalah coordinated and participated in a briefing for foreign diplomats in Israel, hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland and in partnership with the Negev Coexistence Forum, on the land and housing rights concerns of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Attorney Bishara provided an overview of the land and planning laws in Israel, and particularly focused on new legal developments in the Naqab following the Israeli Supreme Court’s rulings in 2015 and 2016 to allow the demolition of Umm Al-Hiran.

Attorney Bishara emphasized that Umm al-Hiran was one of 36 unrecognized villages that would be dispossessed by the state, with 70,000 to 80,000 Bedouin residents threatened to be forcibly displaced into segregated and concentrated townships, in clear violation of their rights.

“Israel uses the law to wage a war by different means against its Palestinian citizens,” explained Attorney Bishara. “It is our responsibility to challenge the discriminatory laws and policies that apply differently to Arab and Jewish citizens of the state – including in Umm al-Hiran.”

These awareness-raising activities are made possible by your support. Help us to continue spreading the word to diplomats, journalists, and others to #Save_UmAlHiran!

Resident takes down closet ahead of demolition
Resident takes down closet ahead of demolition
Child sleeps as mother prepares for demolition
Child sleeps as mother prepares for demolition
Apr 10, 2017

With legal support, Arab high school students stand up to Israeli police intimidation

Palestinian protestors in Ar'ara, 21 January 2017
Palestinian protestors in Ar'ara, 21 January 2017

Dear Friends,

Your support for our project has played a crucial role in protecting the freedom of expression rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel since the start of 2017.

In January, hundreds of Palestinian citizens participated in protests across the country against the killing of 50-year old math teacher Mr. Ya’akub Abu Al-Qi’an, who was shot unjustifiably by Israeli police during a home demolition operation in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south. Adalah is representing the family members of Mr. Abu Al-Qi’an in demanding an independent and thorough investigation into the killing.

Adalah lawyers were present as observers at one of the largest demonstrations in the Arab town of Ar’ara in the center of Israel, where they monitored the police’s practices to ensure that they did not violate the protestors’ right to express their opinions.

Adalah staff also produced live documentation of the protest with photos and videos, which were widely viewed and shared on Adalah's Facebook and Twitter accounts. See examples of our posts here, here and here.

During the same period, in the city of Haifa in the north, Israeli police used illegal methods to try to prevent a protest led by Arab high school students from taking place.

In the days leading up the protest, plain-clothed police officers summoned or paid visits to local Arab school principals to pressure them to stop students participating in the protest.

Police also sent Whatsapp messages in Arabic to individual students telling them – falsely – that the protest was illegal and that there would be clashes with police if they went forward with it.

Adalah sent an urgent letter to the Israeli police in response to these practices, demanding that the police’s acts of intimidation immediately end.

“The facts of the case,” wrote Adalah Attorney Mohammad Bassam, “demonstrate that the police force is prepared to employ even illegal means to deter Arab school children from exercising their right to freedom of political expression.”

The police claimed in response that they had acted legitimately and out of concern that the event could “endanger public safety.” However, Adalah retorted that such claims were baseless and that the acts of the police remained illegal. “According to this logic, the police would be authorized to prevent any form of student protest on the pretext of maintaining public order,” wrote Attorney Bassam.

Thanks to our legal support, the protest in Haifa was held successfully on 24 January, with the young Arab protestors being reassured of their legitimate right to exercise their freedom of expression rights. Adalah lawyers were also present during this protest as observers to ensure that the police did not harass the students further.

We could not have done this work without your support. Your contributions ensure that our work to #ProtectTheProtest will continue to achieve these tangible successes for many more Palestinian citizens of Israel in the months ahead.

Riot police at Ar'ara protest, 21 January 2017
Riot police at Ar'ara protest, 21 January 2017
Students protesting in Haifa, 24 Jan 2017
Students protesting in Haifa, 24 Jan 2017
Protestors opposite police in Haifa, 24 Jan 2017
Protestors opposite police in Haifa, 24 Jan 2017
Police watch student protest in Haifa, 24 Jan 2017
Police watch student protest in Haifa, 24 Jan 2017
Mar 16, 2017

We secured equal funding for aspiring Arab teachers!

Learning English in Ramla. Photo: US Emb. Tel Aviv
Learning English in Ramla. Photo: US Emb. Tel Aviv

Dear friends and supporters,

We have great news!

Thanks to your support for our work, we achieved an important victory in protecting the education rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.

Following a series of legal letters submitted by Adalah, the Israeli Education Ministry announced in late December 2016 that it will cancel a funding plan that discriminated against Arab trainees who are enrolled in teacher certification programs.

The Ministry’s plan would have granted Arab trainee teachers just 56% of the 25,000 shekels (approx. $6,500) that is budgeted annually per Israeli Jewish trainee teachers.

The Ministry claimed that this discriminatory policy was intended to reduce the number of Arab citizens studying to be teachers, due to high rates of unemployment amongst Arab teachers, particularly women.

In challenging the plan, Adalah argued that the Ministry’s plan essentially legitimized separate and unequal funding to Arab trainee teachers on the basis of their nationality and ethnic origin. The plan would also further widen the budget gap between colleges that trained only Arab students, and colleges that trained Jewish and Arab students. The Arab education system would ultimately suffer greatly as a result of this unjust policy.

Thanks to your help, we have ensured that aspiring Arab teachers in Israel will receive equal support from the government as they prepare to educate today’s young generation of Arab citizens, and as they help Arab students #MakeTheGrade for years to come.

Following the positive decision, Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher stated that: “We will continue to monitor the Education Ministry’s actions to ensure that this funding plan is indeed cancelled, and we will act to ensure that similar moves are not implemented in the future.”

Your contributions to our project are vital to sustaining these actions. Help us to continue defending Arab students’ and teachers’ rights as they #MakeTheGrade in 2017.

Photo credit: US Embassy Tel Aviv - ACCESS program in Ramla, Israel

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