Friday, August 1, 2008

Chicago Tribune Wrote:

Israel targets West Bank charity sites

Islamist outlets shut by crackdown deny backing Hamas or spreading agenda

By Joel Greenberg Chicago Tribune correspondent
July 24, 2008
HEBRON, West Bank—For more than 40 years, the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron has provided social services to residents of this volatile West Bank city, helping orphans and needy families. Its new school for girls was to open next month, a mall it operated housed shops and offices, and it ran two bakeries and a sewing shop.But in a series of raids in recent months, the Israeli army ordered the mall vacated and emptied the charity's main warehouse. The school gates were welded shut, school buses were seized and the sewing shop was closed in a nighttime sweep in which Israeli soldiers, their faces darkened by camouflage paint, stripped the place bare.The raid was part of a crackdown against business enterprises, schools and welfare groups in the West Bank that Israeli military officials say raise money and mobilize public support for the militant Islamic movement Hamas, which has carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Israel and whose charter calls for Israel's destruction.
Fighting 'civilian Hamas'The army campaign began this year in conservative Hebron, where Hamas has a strong following, and was extended this month to Nablus, where soldiers ordered the closing of a five-story mall and raided city hall, whose elected municipal council is controlled by Hamas.
The campaign against Islamist institutions in the West Bank comes as Israel's military and Hamas' armed wing are observing a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas routed the Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last year.The West Bank government of Abbas shut down dozens of West Bank charities said to have links with Hamas late last year; the Israeli crackdown has had the practical effect of complementing the Palestinian Authority's campaign."The army has realized that the battle is not only against terrorism that is visible for all to see but against those who generate the funds needed to build bombs and buy guns and ammunition," said Oron Mincha, a spokesman for the army's Central Command."The campaign now is against the civilian Hamas, which provides the ideology for Palestinian youth to believe in holy war and the destruction of Israel," he said.
Groups deny claimsBut the Islamic charities and welfare groups involved vehemently deny promoting any militant agenda, insisting they are grass-roots social organizations formed to fill gaps left by inadequate government services. Some Palestinians see the Israeli crackdown as part of a grander scheme."This is part of an Israeli strategy to destroy the infrastructure of Palestinian society and make it needy, unable to help itself and subject to foreign agendas," said Samira al-Khalaika, a Hebron lawmaker affiliated with Hamas.Established in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising, Hamas has always maintained both an armed wing responsible for fighting Israel and a social welfare network that runs health clinics, orphanages, soup kitchens, kindergartens and schools. Those institutions have boosted the group's popularity and solidified its reputation for honesty and public service — in contrast with Fatah, which has been plagued with corruption.Yet not all Islamic welfare groups are linked to Hamas, and critics of the Israeli campaign say it is misdirected, targeting vital supports of Palestinian society.The mall ordered closed in Nablus is owned by a finance company accused by the Israelis of raising money for Hamas. Computers, furniture and documents have been seized from the company's offices, and on Monday, 14 members of its board were detained.The Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron, the largest in the West Bank, was founded in 1962 under Jordanian rule, and before most of Hebron was transferred to the control of the Palestinian Authority it was licensed by the Israeli military government .Now the Israelis designate the society — which runs orphanages and schools in the Hebron area — a banned organization because of its alleged links to Hamas.
Teaching 'hatred'At the Al-Huda mall in downtown Hebron, which was ordered vacated by April 1, most of the premises are empty. A dress shop, cosmetics store and computer outlet are shuttered. The office of a physical therapist and a lawyer are vacant, with signs directing clients to other locations. The society's hangarlike warehouse, which contained clothing, shoes and school supplies for needy students and their families, is also bare. Rasheed Rasheed, a teacher who works for the group, said soldiers worked a full day to load several trucks with goods, also hauling off industrial refrigerators used to store meat for the orphanages and the poor.At the Al-Rahma bakery, where soldiers seized equipment, walls were broken and a large oven was heavily damaged. Rasheed said the soldiers set fire to the oven when they couldn't carry it off.Mincha, the army spokesman, denied that any property had been vandalized, suggesting that the damage had been staged, but he confirmed the confiscation of goods and closure of the school and building complexes owned by the society.Rasheed emphatically denied that the Hebron charitable society had any links to Hamas, noting that it was established well before the militant group even existed. He said the schools follow the curriculum of the Palestinian Authority."The only curriculum of incitement and hatred is the Israeli checkpoints, the beating and killing of Palestinians," Rasheed said. "That is what teaches Palestinian children hatred. We don't have to."
To read original report, click here

Friday, July 18, 2008

Despite fear, concern and disruption: 11 students of the 12th grade got more than 90% at Tawjihi Exam

First on boys in Hebron District /Scientific Stream :
First on girls in Hebron District/Literary Stream:

They never let us down. Despite all bad days we went through, our boys and girls accepted the challenge and proved to everybody that they chose the way to success. Those same students who were accused of being a victim of incitement, being taught hatred and being fed with '' Jihad principles '', got the highest marks in the General Certificate Exam (Tawjihi) of the 12th grade , today.

Seven girls got high marks in this test: 97.1% , 94.5% , 92.8% , 92.4% , 91.2% , 92.1% , 90.8%. Four boys got: 98.4% , 97.6% , 94.7% , 90.3%.

Congratulations to everybody! Wishing them the best in their study.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Solidarity Football Championship in Support of the Islamic Charitable Society

In support of the orphans of the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS), the YMCA, DCI (Defence for Children International), CPT(Christian Peacemaker Teams), AIC(Alternative Information Centre) have organized a solidarity football championship.

Good games with wonderful players

The Japanese Team and EAPPI

Teams ready to play

YMCA Team , distinguished team in everything

CPT Team

EAPPI Team and the best player of the championship Jean-Marie (first row, third from right)

The winner, MYA (Muslim Youths' Association)

A participation gift for the Japanese Team

Sara Venturini, the organizer, and a special gift

Monday, July 7, 2008

Al- Qattan Foundation Supports '' Sanabel Theatre '' Performances

The Sanabel Theatre from Jerusalem has performed two plays for the orphans early this morning. The children were very happy singing, dancing and clapping during the shows. It was such a wonderful change for orphans after all that they have gone through. The shows were fully supported by Abdel Muhsen Al-Qattan Foundation in Ramallah.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

When Good People Speak: Paul Rehm of CPT Wrote an Article in Timesunion from US

Speak out to protect the children


First published: Saturday, June 28, 2008

They come in the middle of the night, some with blackened faces. They prefer the darkness, these men and women who take food and clothing meant for orphans and needy families.
Shortly after midnight on April 30, these Israeli soldiers drove through the streets of Hebron to raid the sewing workshop in a Palestinian girls' orphanage. Taken by surprise when my Christian Peacemaker teammates found them there, they would not answer Art's challenge, "Is this the way you fight terror -- stealing clothing and sewing machines from a girls' orphanage?"
"Look at yourselves. Now tell me who the terrorists are." Could Art's words have been ringing in their ears as they discarded their loot at the municipal dump?
On Feb. 26, the Israeli army had ordered the Islamic Charitable Society to close the orphanages and schools it oversees in Hebron, along with the central warehouse and bakeries that serve those facilities. The army claimed there was a connection to Hamas. The ICS staff told us some employees are members of the political party Hamas and others belong to Fatah, but that neither party controls the charitable organization.
"If the army has evidence proving any ICS employees are involved in illegal activities," they added, "arrest those individuals and bring them to trial. Don't make the orphans and students suffer."
Those pleas fell on deaf ears. In March, the army raided the ICS central warehouse and took away school buses, clothing and food.
We walked through that ransacked warehouse -- shelves stripped, doors smashed, broken glass on the floor -- one more instance of the violence faced by people who ask our group to work with them as they attempt to resolve conflicts nonviolently. Christian Peacemaker Teams' commitment to nonviolence and peacemaking evolves from the life and teachings of Jesus. Besides Hebron, we also have teams in the nearby village of At-Tuwani and in Colombia and Iraq.
The army gave the Islamic Charitable Society until April 1 to vacate its buildings. In support of the children, and in keeping with Christian Peacemaker Teams' practice of getting in the way between oppressors and the oppressed, we slept on mats in the boys' and girls' orphanages for several nights at the end of March and start of April. The soldiers did not come.
A few weeks later, they did return in the night -- not to the orphanages but to one of the bakeries. They set fire to the commercial oven, smashed walls and ventilation pipes and drove away into the darkness.
While the army has been making its late night rounds, people in the West Bank and Jerusalem -- men and women, including Christians, Jews and Muslims -- concerned with human rights and the welfare of children have been raising their voices in the light of day. European Union Vice President Luisa Morgantini called the decision to close the ICS schools an "arbitrary and illegal action perpetrated by the Israeli military against the civil population."
Former President Jimmy Carter called for "people of good will to join me on behalf of the orphans and students ... so that 240 children will not lose the place they've come to know as home and 1,700 students will not be thrown out of school."
Rabbi Arik Ascherman of the Israeli group Rabbis for Human Rights, forbidden by Israeli law from entering the area of Hebron where a news conference was held, phoned in his message of support. The Israeli journalist, Gideon Levy, was one of the first to speak out: "How pathetic is an occupation army that empties out warehouses of food and clothing earmarked for orphans."
In times like these, when Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire joins the struggle by sleeping in at the girls' orphanage, you and I can also speak out for the children of Hebron. We may not be presidents, vice presidents, rabbis, journalists or Nobel laureates, but our individual voices are critical. We can make ourselves heard. We can contact the Israeli embassy in Washington and ask that the closure orders be rescinded and the ICS compensated for its property. We can phone our representatives in Washington and ask them to bring America's influence to bear on behalf of the orphans and students in Hebron.
Or we can do nothing. The children will never know.
Paul Rehm, who lives in South Westerlo and retired as director of purchasing for Stiefel Laboratories, is a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams. He can be contacted by e-mail at

to read the article in timesunion , click HERE

Monday, June 30, 2008

Why Are We Working With Orphans?

" He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing." Deut 10:18

" And they ask you concerning orphans. Say: "The best thing is to work honestly in their property, and if you mix your affairs with theirs, then they are your brothers. And Allah knows him who means mischief (e.g. to swallow their property) from him who means good (e.g. to save their property)." Baqara – 220

Christians and Muslims speak from the same tradition of loving peace and justice, and of caring for the weak and in need, especially for the children in our midst. Hand in hand, we are co-partners in serving people in need. Muslim and Christian charities offer vital services to local communities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Without the work of our religious charities, the care and enormous resources we provide to suffering people would fall upon the shoulders of local governments which are unable to meet these needs.

The work of these charities is irreplacably in this society.
Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron

Briefing 27 June 2008

On 26 February, the Israeli Military issued 6 military orders declaring the confiscation and closures of facilities belonging to the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) in Hebron.

Targeted facilities:
Two bakeries
One apartment building
One administrative building
A new shopping mall
A warehouse
Three schools
Two orphanages
Schools, kindergartens and other facilities in surrounding villages(Beit Ula & Shyukh)

As of 27 June Israeli Military has confiscated/shut:
The warehouse with over $300,000 worth of school supplies, clothing, and food
Two new school buses
The apartment building with thirty units
Two bakeries supplying 5,000 families with bread
Welded shut the gates of a school for 1200 students, scheduled to open on Sept. 2008 (Worth $2,000,000)
A sewing center where girls learned a craft and earned pocket money. (The sewing machines and bolts of cloth used by the students were thrown on the city dump as the soldiers left the city)
Schools, kindergartens and other facilities in surrounding villages(Beit Ula & Shyukh)
For further details, see the attached list of total costs to the Charities.

The Israeli measures in Hebron constitute a series of violations of International Humanitarian Law, International Human Rights Law and International Law:
· The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, articles 6 and 7
· The Fourth Geneva Convention, article 39 of the;
· The Convention on the Rights of the Child, article. 38
· Article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (which stipulates the duty of the Occupying Power to facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children)
· The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 26 (right to education of children), article 9 (guarantees protection against arbitrary arrest and detention)
· The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 9
· The Oslo Agreement
· The Hebron Agreement

New development:
These military orders also represents a new and worrying development as they refer to confiscation and transfer of ownership of private property in the H1 Area of Hebron (under Palestinian control) to the Israeli Army. The PA Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Mahmud Al-Habbash, who visited ICS Hebron Wednesday, June 11, confirmed that "This is against all the agreements between the PA and them [the Israelis.]. It is a violation of all Human Rights Agreements. We have informed all internationals about these illegal actions''.

Affected beneficiaries:
A particularly vulnerable segment of the population, namely children from mostly impoverished families, is being deprived of specialized services that provide much needed support and fundamental coping mechanisms.

As of today:
The Israeli Army has yet to implement the remaining provisions of the orders, i.e. the eviction of the ICS and the orphans from the property and the transfer of ownership of the property.

While the world is watching the orphanages and schools, the Israeli Military is stripping the Charities of millions of dollars in assets, jeopardizing decades of work and investment by ICS to assure the support of the orphanages and other charitable services provided to the increasingly impoverished city of Hebron.

Charges against the Charities:
The Israeli Army claims that the Charities are a front or fund raiser for Hamas, and that some of the staff or board members are implicated in Hamas activities in one way or another. Yet, no proof has been presented to the Charities, the press or NGOs involved in protecting the orphans.
Charity accounts have always been open and are submitted to the PA as they were to the Jordanian Government before 1967. All sources and expenditures are fully documented and no one has raised any questions about the accounts.The only criteria for selection of orphans is that they are in need, there is no political agenda. The Israeli Military makes the generic charge that the Charity assists prisoner's families, and although the PA, most major UN groups and NGOs do provide such assistance, this Charity does not.

International support:
Due primarily to the efforts of the Christian Peacemakers in Hebron a wide variety of supporters, including Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire and Jimmy Carter, the Desmond Tutu Foundation, the UN Commission on Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights, and the YMCA's, have rallied to help, and internationals have been sleeping in the Orphanages to comfort the frightened children and to deter invasion when the risk seems high.

Mairead Maguire, Irish Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, recently visited the Orphanages of Hebron while on a visit to the Occupied Territories to support non violent resistance there. She said she was shocked and disheartened by the havoc and ruin being created by the Israeli Army in the lives of the poorest and weakest of Palestinian society, the orphans and the children of the poor. The orphanages, she said, are at the heart of programs run by the Islamic Charitable Institutions (ISC) in Hebron, who have served the needy of that city since 1962."

We ask that:
The Israeli Government be held accountable by the International Community for its abuse of the rights of the children to protection and education. As an occupying power Israel has legal obligations (under the Geneva Convention) to protect the population in the occupied territories, especially women and children.

Palestinian Authority and the Charities:
We are grateful for the steps taken by the United Nations (UNSCO) , and the information given it by the assistant to the PA Prime Minister, stating that “the PA has not received any information that benefits have stopped reaching beneficiaries and that they should let him know if they heard otherwise." We appreciate their support. We are now pointing out that, as our summary of the impact of Israeli confiscations to date has made clear, the infrastructure and fund raising mechanism that supports these children and their services has been badly and possibly permanently damaged. Services to the orphans and other needy groups, and staff salaries, have already been cut.

The PA Minister of the Interior has appointed nine board members who are not affiliated with any party. The board, however, refuses to take responsibility until it receives guarantees from the PA and the Israeli Authorities that they and the board will not be targeted, and that the Army will stop any further actions against the Charities. As a result of this lack of a functioning board, the Charities can no longer access their own bank accounts or reach their own funds.