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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

Jan 10, 2017

Tackling wrongful police practices, one case at a time

Palestinian protest in Jaffa. Photo: Mati Milstein
Palestinian protest in Jaffa. Photo: Mati Milstein

In the past few months, Adalah has focused its attention on tackling many wrongful practices used by the Israeli police against Palestinian citizens of Israel who exercised their right to protest. Thanks in great part to your support, we successfully won a positive court decision and filed two new legal interventions to protect Palestinian citizens' right to protest.

WIN: Court orders release of police open-fire regulations - the public has a right to know

In November 2016, the Lod District Court issued its decision on a petition filed by Adalah demanding that the Israeli police release and publish the full details of its new, eased open-fire regulations, which were issued in September 2015. In response to the petition, the police revealed parts of its regulations in June 2016, but some sections remained blacked out and censored. The new regulations permit officers – as an initial option, preceding any earlier attempt to employ non-lethal weapons – to open fire with live ammunition on those throwing stones or firebombs, and on those shooting fireworks. Adalah fears that these open-fire regulations facilitate a "shoot-to-kill" policy that has been used against Palestinians for over a year, including at demonstrations. The police filed an appeal against the decision to the Israeli Supreme Court in December 2016; Adalah will continue to insist on the release of the full regulations. More info

NEW: Stopping arrests for raising the Palestinian flag

In October 2016, Adalah wrote to the Israeli Attorney General (AG) demanding that he issue an order to the State Attorney and Israel Police to refrain from arresting and indicting citizens and residents of Israel for raising the Palestinian flag. According to official police statistics, between 2011 and 2015, the police arrested 96 citizens of Israel on suspicion of waving the Palestinian flag, and indictments were filed in 45 of these cases (47%). Adalah stressed that there is no legal directive forbidding the raising of the Palestinian flag. Moreover, the Israeli Supreme Court does not see the Palestinian flag as symbolizing support for terrorism, as the Court permitted a number of Arab political parties to broadcast election campaign ads in which images of the flag appeared. More info

NEW: Challenging police attacks on free speech and protest for Palestinian citizens

In October 2016, Adalah wrote to the Israeli AG demanding that he issue new orders to the police to refrain from impinging upon the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to free political expression and protest. Adalah detailed a series of illegal practices and operational tactics employed by the police over the last year, including: (1) Preventive arrests; (2) Protest dispersal and false arrests; (3) Arrests of parents of youth protestors; (4) Release from detention conditional on limited free speech and movement; and (5) Violations of regulations relating to minors in detention. Adalah further noted that statistics indicate unequal enforcement between Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel when it comes to the scope of arrests: between 2011 and 2015, Palestinian citizens made up 89 percent of arrests for "participating in a riot," 62 percent of arrests for "participating in a forbidden gathering," and 98 percent of arrests for "gathering or organizing an unauthorized march". More info

Our ability to launch important cases like these relies on your donations and support. Thank you for standing with Adalah and by Palestinian citizens' right to protest.

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