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Nov 6, 2017

Protect Online Protest

Protect Online Protest


Dear friends,

Greetings to all from Adalah in Haifa! 

We wish to take this opportunity to tell you about some of Adalah's key legal efforts made this past August and September to protect online social media protest, particularly of young Palestinian citizens of Israel. 

The Cyber Unit

Adalah received information that the Israeli State Attorney's Office runs a 'Cyber Unit'. This unit collaborates with social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to remove users' posts, restrict access to certain websites, and even outright block users' access to sites.

Adalah discovered that the Cyber Unit has no legal authority and sent out a letter demanding that the unit immediately ceases its operations. Adalah Attorney Fady Khoury stressed in our letter to the Israeli authorities that much of the unit's censorship operations are conducted without any basis in Israeli law:

"Nothing in the law allows state authorities to censor content based solely on an administrative determination… that the content amounts to a criminal offense. Likewise, there is no explicit directive in [Israeli] law authorizing the removal of content determined to amount to a criminal offense – even by a court."

According to the Cyber Unit's 2016 annual report, it examined 2,241 cases of online content, with a very high number – 1,554, or 69 percent – were removed by the unit.

While private social media corporations may legally remove content according to their terms of service, Israeli state agents – such as the Cyber Unit – are subject to Israeli law. Therefore, much of their censorship activities are illegal and violate users' freedom of speech.

Attorney Khoury explained further: "When the Cyber Unit appeals to a service provider with a request to censor content based on its suspicion … without a final [judicial] ruling in the matter, this constitutes an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech."

Adalah demanded in the letter that the Israeli authorities halt all internet content censorship activities used by the Cyber Unit.

Twitter, Facebook regularly remove user content at governments' requests

Twitter and Facebook admit that they remove a significant amount of content at the request of governments from around the world. Between July and December 2016, the two platforms reported granting requests from the following countries (among others):

  • Twitter:Australia: 4/15 requests were granted; Canada: 11/38; France: 1334/2431; Germany: 236/371; Israel: 12/13; Italy: 6/13; Norway: 1/2; Sweden: 0/2; UK: 65/307; US: 100/381
  • Facebook: Australia: 2 requests were granted; Canada: 0; France: 683; Germany: 919; Israel: 661; Italy: 11; Norway: 0; Sweden: 0; UK: 177; US: 0

Related: Israeli police conceal from detainees social media posts that led to their arrests

When a person is arrested in Israel for incitement or other crimes of expression based on social media posts, police are refusing to reveal which posts led to their arrest and detention. This practice is being employed disproportionally against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Adalah wrote to Israeli authorities in September 2017 that this policy severely harms suspects’ rights to due process, undermines the purpose of the criminal process, and violates the rights of detainees to defend themselves.

“This problematic practice essentially turns an initial arrest into a full-fledged administrative detention [detention without charge or trial]," Attorney Fady Khoury emphasized. "It is not just that the evidentiary materials collected by police are kept from detainees and their lawyers, but that the [social media] content for which the arrest was carried out is left undefined.”

Adalah’s letter cited numerous examples: One young Palestinian Arab citizen of Israel, for instance, was arrested on suspicion of an expression crime, but Israeli police refused to reveal the post for which he was arrested for the entire duration of his seven-day detention.

The vast majority of arrests made in Israel in 2015 and the first half of 2016 for charges related to alleged online incitement were of Palestinian citizens.

According to the most recent Israeli police statistics, 82 percent of individuals arrested for incitement-related offenses in 2016 were Palestinian citizens, whereas only 18 percent were Jewish citizens.

Thank you for your generous contributions to Adalah to make this important work possible. Please continue to help Adalah to protect the protest – in the streets and on the web.

In solidarity, 

Rina Rosenberg (Jabareen)

International Advocacy Director, Adalah

Sep 22, 2017

Demand:Safe access to school for Bedouin children

Bedouin children walk to school in Naqab (Adalah)
Bedouin children walk to school in Naqab (Adalah)

Dear Friends,

With the start of the new school year this month, September 2017, Adalah’s focus remains on access to education, including securing the most basic safety measures for Arab Bedouin children to attend school, in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel. We wish to take this opportunity to report on a success and a new case on which we are working.

First, the success. In July 2017, the Education Ministry announced before the Be'er Sheva District Court that the state intends to fund the construction of safe school bus stops for children living in six Bedouin villages in the Naqab, This commitment was made in response to a petition filed by Adalah in January 2017 on behalf of parents against the Education Ministry and two local Regional Councils demanding these bus stops.

As Adalah argued in its petition, "Hundreds of school children currently gather at random locations close to main roads with no signs, sidewalks or shelters. The lack of bus stops poses a serious safety hazard that endangers the lives and physical wellbeing of these children … These conditions do not exist in schools in [Israeli] Jewish communities in the Naqab, where authorities take care to establish proper bus stops and to eliminate safety hazards. The failure to establish proper school bus stops [for the Bedouin community] creates a situation of blatant inequality in the enforcement of the law."

The ministry further promised before the court that the construction of the bus stops would extend to related safety infrastructure, as Adalah demanded, including protective fences, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, etc., to resolve numerous hazards that the children currently face on their way to and from school. Further hearings on the case will take place in this fall to monitor the implementation of the state's commitments.

Second, the new case. You might be very surprised to learn that numerous schools in Bedouin villages in the Naqab are not connected to the national electricity grid. In previous cases brought by Adalah, the Supreme Court found that the state’s failure to connect the schools was totally unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.

Adalah recently learned that 3,000 kids in the unrecognized Arab Bedouin village of Wadi al-Na'am study in schools powered solely by diesel generators. In September, Adalah sent a letter on behalf of the Wadi el-Na'am parents committee and the local village council, to senior Israeli officials and the Israel Electric Corporation demanding that they connect the schools in the village to the national grid. 

Adalah wrote in the letter that the state's failure raises grave educational and safety concerns:

"The diesel deliveries take place during the school day when students and staff are all onsite, which undoubtedly poses a danger to their health and safety. Access to the generators is not entirely blocked off and children are able to walk over to the generators during recesses in the schoolyards, putting them in life-threatening danger. The generators also produce noise, which disturbs classes. In many cases during power outages caused by generator failures, principals are forced to cancel school entirely – particularly during periods of heavy heat and cold winter temperatures. During these conditions, it is impossible to hold classes and insufferable for students and educational staff alike."

The Wadi el-Na'am local council stated:

"Our children have the right to study in reasonable conditions, like any other child in the State of Israel. It is shameful that in 2017 we have to ask to get a school connected to electricity. The current situation is unsafe and likely to cause accidents. Electrical power lines already run through the village but only serve the chemical plants located nearby. We demand that the Education Ministry take immediate action to connect schools in the village to the electricity grid."  Power lines from the electricity generating station pass over homes, schools, and businesses in Wadi el-Na’am but connect only to nearby chemical plants and not to the schools.

Your generous support makes it possible for Adalah to continue to fight for the basic right of access to education. We sincerely appreciate you help in ensure that these children, and many more, can #MakeTheGrade.

Thank you for your continued support for our work.

Stand with Adalah, Stand for Justice!

Wadi el-Na'am school powered by generator (Adalah)
Wadi el-Na'am school powered by generator (Adalah)
Aug 29, 2017

State's segregation plan exposed - time for new legal actions

Map illustrating  planned Jewish town of Hiran
Map illustrating planned Jewish town of Hiran

Dear ally,

This month, Adalah uncovered an important document that could strengthen our legal struggle to defend the 500 Bedouin villagers of Umm al-Hiran from displacement and dispossession.

The document confirms that, contrary to the state's claims before the Israeli Supreme Court, the new town that is to be built over the ruins of the Bedouin village – and to be called "Hiran" – will be open to Israeli Jewish citizens only.

According to the document, Hiran's cooperative association bylaws state that: "an individual may be approved by the admissions committee and become a member of the Hiran cooperative association if they meet the following qualifications: a Jewish Israeli citizen or permanent resident of Israel who observes the Torah and commandments according to Orthodox Jewish values…" (emphasis added).

These bylaws contradict the state's response to Adalah's appeals against the eviction and demolition of Umm al-Hiran in the years prior. In these replies, the state claimed that, "Hiran is planned as a general community, into which any Israeli of any background or religion may integrate."

Adalah immediately took new legal actions after it uncovered this document. On 7 August 2017, our lawyers wrote to the National Planning and Building Council (NPBC) arguing that the state had violated its proclaimed commitments before the Supreme Court that the new town would be open to the "general public", including Bedouin citizens. After our intervention, the NPBC – which was set to speed up plans for Hiran – postponed its meetings on these issues.

Our lawyers also wrote to the Attorney General (AG) demanding that he prevent the allocation of Hiran's plots exclusively to religious Jewish citizens, and that he ensure that the Bedouins of Umm al-Hiran are included in the planning of the new town.

"This land," wrote Adalah Attorney Myssana Morany to the AG, "is being allocated [by the state] to a group that discriminates and is racially motivated, and which limits membership to a specific national [ethnic] and religious group to the exclusion of other groups. There is no doubt that the allocation of plots to the Hiran core [group] constitutes discrimination against Arab citizens." Adalah is awaiting a response to our letter.

Adalah is planning further legal actions and advocacy initiatives to stop the state's segregation plan. But we cannot do this without your help.

Your support is crucial to advance our work to defend the Bedouin residents of the village. Donate today and help us #Save_UmAlHiran!

Hiran bylaws say residents must be Orthodox Jews
Hiran bylaws say residents must be Orthodox Jews
Israeli bulldozers demolish homes in Umm al-Hiran
Israeli bulldozers demolish homes in Umm al-Hiran
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