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Jul 20, 2017

Palestinian protest secured after police backtrack on denying permit

Young Palestinians at the March of Return, 2 May
Young Palestinians at the March of Return, 2 May

Dear friends,

During the past quarter, Adalah successfully helped to protect the Palestinian "March of Return", which took place on 2 May 2017 on the lands of Al-Kabri, a Palestinian village that was destroyed by Israel during the War in 1948.

The March of Return is an annual demonstration held on Israel's declared Independence Day to commemorate the hundreds of Palestinians villages that were erased during the Nakba, or "catastrophe". 

Thousands of Palestinians visit these villages each year to remember their history, protest Israel's ongoing colonial land policies, and assert the right of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons to return to their ancestral homes.

This year, however, the Israeli police refused to grant a permit to the Association for the Defense of the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Israel, which organizes the annual march.

The police claimed that they did not have sufficient resources to secure the event, as they were being deployed to events to mark Israel's independence on the same day. The decision would have been the first in 18 years that the Palestinian march would not be allowed to take place.

In a letter to the Israeli State Attorney and the police, Adalah Attorney Mohammad Bassam wrote that "The police decision is very strange and raises concerns that the refusal to approve the event is politically motivated". He added that the event "isn't meant to be secured by the police, but by ushers supplied by the organizers."

Thanks to our legal intervention together with the protest organizers, the police reversed their decision and the March of Return was allowed to take place as planned!

Adalah's legal and media staff also attended the successful march to observe and document the protest – see photos here.

Your contributions ensure that our work to #ProtectTheProtest will continue to achieve successes like this.

As Adalah expects many more protests against Israeli government policies to take place in the coming months, your support remains crucial to secure the freedom of expression rights of many more Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Palestinian citizens at the March of Return, 2 May
Palestinian citizens at the March of Return, 2 May
Jun 12, 2017

Tel Aviv must fulfill its promise: Provide a new building for Arab school

Students outside Municipal School #12 in Jaffa
Students outside Municipal School #12 in Jaffa

Dear Friends,

Adalah is representing a parents' committee and student council representatives in an important case, which aims to ensure that hundreds of Palestinian Arab middle and high school students can #MakeTheGrade in the mixed city of Jaffa in central Israel.

Municipal School #12 is the largest Arab public school in Jaffa. While the facility is only authorized to accommodate 600 students, the school has dramatically lowered its dropout rate, and today 850 students are enrolled.

As a result of this positive rise in student enrolment, the school faces a severe problem of overcrowding. To temporarily alleviate the problem, the school administration moved to convert bomb shelters, a library, science labs, and a gym into makeshift classrooms.

Since 1998, the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality promised to provide a new building to supplement new classrooms at the school. These promises were backed up by official meetings, written documentation, and blueprints and plans drawn up by the municipality itself. Even during the construction of the new facility, a sign was placed specifying that the new building was slated for the school.

However, in early January 2017, Tel Aviv municipal representatives unexpectedly told surprised parents that – in violation of all prior agreements and commitments – the new building would not be handed over to Municipal School #12, but would instead be used as a new sciences school.

The school’s parents were baffled as to why the city demanded that the new sciences school be built at the expense of the students of Municipal School #12, who have been waiting years for their new building to be completed.

“Given the availability of empty structures in the city that could be used for the sciences school, the city’s insistence is totally incomprehensible,” said Mrs. Jihan Haddad, the Chairwoman of the parents’ committee. “I wonder what the Tel Aviv mayor would do if his grandchildren had to go to school in the conditions our children are now facing.”

Thus in April 2017, Adalah filed a petition to the Tel Aviv District Court, on behalf of the school’s parents’ committee and student council representatives, demanding that the municipality and the Israeli Education Ministry fulfill its commitment to expand the school.

Attorney Sawsan Zaher, Director of Adalah’s Economic and Social Rights Unit, wrote in the petition that: “The disregard for the serious distress the school is now facing as a result of overcrowding impinges upon the learning environment and harms the quality of education.”

The District Court held a hearing on the case on 6 June 2017, after the municipality refused to change its course of action and re-commit to the promise it made to Municipal School #12. The case is pending.

Your support makes it possible for Adalah to defend the education rights of Palestinian Arab students in Israel like those in Jaffa. Help us ensure that these children, and many more, can #MakeTheGrade.

Replacing signs, replacing owners
Replacing signs, replacing owners
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
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