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
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
 
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