Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Thousands of Palestinian orphans protest Israeli army looting of their

March 13, 2008 at 8:36 am
Khalid Amayreh in Hebron

Thousands of Palestinian orphans on Tuesday took to the streets in this
southern West Bank town to protest recent raids by the Israeli
occupation army of their orphanages and boarding schools.
Hundreds of Israeli troops, backed up by armored carriers, raided the
Islamic Charitable Society in downtown Hebron earlier this week ,
vandalizing property and looting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth
of food materials, clothes, shoes and furniture donated by local and
foreign donors for the benefit of the orphans.
The charitable society, the largest in Palestine, runs two orphanages
and several boarding schools, which cater for as many as 7000 children
who have lost either or both parents.
“Israel is treating us the way Nazi Germany treated the Jews,’ read one
of the placards carried by the protesters. “Israel represents the Nazis
of our time,” read another sign. A third placard read “We shall triumph.”
Demonstrators marched nearly one kilometer through the Ein Sara street,
one of the Hebron’s main thoroughfares, as Palestinian police escorted them.
One of the protesters, Ahmed Natshe, accused Israel of wanting to
“annihilate Muslims”
“Israel seeks to justifies these criminal onslaughts on Palestinian
orphans by citing alleged links with Hamas. However, Israel has utterly
failed to present any credible evidence to corroborate these baseless
allegations. Israel is acting as judge and plaintiff and policeman
Natshe said he was sure “a thousand per cent” that the charitable
society has “totally and absolutely” no connections with Hamas or any
other Palestinian political party.
“They are not stupid. They knew from the very beginning that connections
with Hamas would get them in trouble. Hence, they meticulously made sure
that no such connections existed.”
Asked why the charity wouldn’t challenge the Israeli army in court,
Natshe said “ are you serious? It is pointless to appeal to a Zionist
court if one is not Jewish.”
“Non-Jews cannot receive justice at a Zionist court. Besides, the entire
Israeli justice system is subservient to the Israeli military
establishment, which means that Palestinians are guilty even if proven
On 6 March, Israeli army troops stormed buildings containing food and
clothes inventories, looting large amounts of frozen food, dairy
products, clothes and shoes as well as refrigerators and kitchen
appliances, local officials and eyewitnesses said.
The looted material were to be used to feed and cloth the orphans.
Ahmed Farrah, a charity official, denied vehemently Israeli insinuations
that the charity was run by Hamas.
“We are a charitable society. We have nothing to do with politics. We
have been functioning since 1964, before the Israeli occupation, and the
Israeli army and intelligence services investigated us numerous times
and they never found any evidence suggesting any illegal activities.
“So, the real reason for this hateful campaign is that they want to
torment us and weaken the Palestinian society. I think it is an
expression of hatred toward Islam and Muslims. Israel today spearheads
an ugly war against our religion.”
Last month, the Israeli army stormed and took over several buildings and
businesses and other premises owned by the Islamic Charitable Society in
the Hebron region.
The army confiscated property, including an orphanage, two schools, a
supermarket and several multi-story buildings as well as four buses.
The army brought in huge trucks for moving the looted materials,
including computers, cabinets, chairs, kitchen appliances and teaching
aids to a nearby army base.
One female student taking part in the demonstration on Tuesday , who
speaks English fluently, accused the state of Israel of “conducting
itself in a barbarian manner.”
“Who but barbarians would storm orphanages and steal donated food for
the orphans? This is a question I put to Jews who have conscience and
Hejazi al Jabari, a civic leader in Hebron, told protesters he hoped
that “your ordeal will be resolved very soon.”
“We are making contacts with government and organizations inside and
outside Palestine. We hope to be able to exert sufficient pressure on
the Israeli government to cancel these barbaric measures.”
Al-Jabari described Israeli charges that the charitable society was
linked to the Hamas organizations as “sheer lies from A to Z.”
“We challenge the Israeli government to produce an iota of evidence
proving their charges.”
One local writer and poet accused the Palestinian Authority of Ramallah
of “conniving and coordinating with Israel to close the orphanages and
boarding schools.”
“I have no doubt that (PA interior minister) Abdul Razzak al Yahya is
behind all of this,” said the man who asked for anonymity.
“They are acting like quislings for Israel. Otherwise why are they
silent while 7000 orphans are being dumped onto the streets?”


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