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Dec 22, 2017

Promises, but still no buses for Bedouin preschoolers

Preschoolers getting on the bus
Preschoolers getting on the bus

Despite promises, still no buses for Bedouin preschoolers 

 

Dear Friends,

Season’s Greetings and health and happiness to all in the New Year!

During this holiday season, Adalah is continuing to work on behalf of Arab Bedouin families living in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of Israel to demand access to education for their children.

On the day after Christmas, 26 December 2017, a Beer Sheva Court is set to hold a hearing on an urgent demand of parents’ and Adalah: the court must enforce the Education Ministry’s commitment to provide school transport for 3 and 4 year-old Arab Bedouin children. The villages in which these children live do not have preschools (as well as many other basic services and facilities) and they must travel - sometimes for long or difficult journeys - out of their villages in order to reach schools. 

Following Adalah’s petition to the court in May 2016, the Education Ministry promised in January 2017 to provide transport for preschool children living in Al-Sira and Al-Jaraf. As a result of this commitment, Adalah’s petition was withdrawn.

The Education Ministry did provide transport from March-June 2017, but ceased to operate school buses when the new school year began in September. Despite repeated queries from Adalah and parents in these communities, the Israeli authorities currently do not provide transportation.

Last week, Adalah petitioned the court again, asking that it compel the Ministry and a nearby Regional Council to abide by their commitment. State attorneys announced before the court in 2016 that the Education Ministry would allocate 50 million shekels (approximately US$14.2 million) to transport 3- and 4-year-old Bedouin school children to school. Around 5000 Arab Bedouin children require transport and/or appropriate preschool frameworks in their villages.  

"When the state commits before the court, it is expected that it will abide by its commitment," Adalah wrote in the new petition. "The failure to abide by commitments leads to continued violations of the [Compulsory Education Law, which obligates the state] to provide free education for children aged three and four via preschool transport."

We hope that the court compels the state to do the right thing, to abide by the law and its commitment, and to provide access to preschool education for children. 

We sincerely appreciate your help in ensuring that these children, and many more, can #MakeTheGrade.

We thank you for your continued support for Adalah's work.

Happy Holidays!

Walking to the bus in Al Sira
Walking to the bus in Al Sira
Dec 11, 2017

Forced evacuation to temporary housing rejected

Forced evacuation to 10-year temporary housing rejected  

Dear Friends,  

This past month, Adalah, together with our partner Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, submitted an objection to Israeli land authorities against a plan to move the 500 Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran to “temporary housing” for a 10-year period.

The kind of temporary housing offered to the residents – citizens of Israel – resembles housing appropriate for emergency situations such as natural disasters, but not for a decade-long housing solution, and the residents adamantly reject it.  

The plan continues to promote a reality of temporariness for Umm al-Hiran residents, an outcome of decades of forced transfer from one place to another. Residents were displaced from their ancestral lands in 1956 and moved by the Israeli military government to their current location in Umm al-Hiran. It is unreasonable to once again uproot them to a temporary place of residence, the very same families who have been living in this village for 60 years. The transfer of Umm al-Hiran's 78 families – including children, adults, and elderly people – will damage the community socially and economically. 

This plan itself is problematic for several reasons.  

First, it goes against the 2015 and 2016 Israeli Supreme Court rulings which determined that Israel may evict Umm al-Hiran residents to appropriate alternative housing in Hura, a government-planned Bedouin town in the Naqab. Temporary hosuing does not meet this determination.  

Second, the temporary housing plan to evacuate Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran will allow Israeli Jews to build a Jewish-only town to be called “Hiran” in its place.  This plan is racist and discriminatory.  

Hiran's cooperative association bylaws grant membership – and residency in the planned town – to "a Jewish Israeli citizen or permanent resident of Israel who observes the Torah and commandments according to Orthodox Jewish values…"

These bylaws contradict the state's previous claims that "Hiran is planned as a general community, into which any Israeli of any background or religion may integrate."

Third, the plan violates Umm al-Hiran residents’ constitutional right to dignity. The transfer breaches the residents' right to freedom of choice as to where to live; it humiliates them by the very fact of their forcible transfer from place to place as if they were objects; and it violates their right to proper housing. 

Finally, the plan does not guarantee sustainable living conditions, and was formulated without the participation or consent of Umm al-Hiran residents. 

Adalah and Bimkom demand that this plan be rejected and that Israel find a solution allowing Umm al-Hiran residents to remain in their homes and village.  

Adalah is following up on this objection and 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 our defense of the Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran. Donate today and help us #Save_UmAlHiran

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

 
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