Saturday, April 26, 2008

President Carter Supports Orphans and Students in Hebron

President Carter's Statement of Support of the Orphans of Hebron

Read by Tim Rothermel of the Carter Center - Jerusalem
on April 24, 2008
at the Al-Shari'yah Girls' Orphanage, Hebron

During my peace mission in the Middle East last week, I heard many stories of Israelis and Palestinians suffering injustice. I was informed about a particularly troubling development, an imminent threat to Palestinian orphans and students in Hebron.

The Israeli military has issued orders for the closure of two orphanages, three schools and support facilities run by the Islamic Charitable Society. I understand that the military has already confiscated an ICS warehouse full of food, clothing, school supplies, and buses and has welded shut the gates of a new orphanage and school for 1,200 girls, which was scheduled to open this September.

The Islamic Charitable Society has been serving the needs of the poor of Hebron since 1962, and should be allowed to continue their good work.
I ask people of good will to join me on behalf of the orphans and students. Together, we ask the Israeli military to rescind the closure orders against the orphanages and schools 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.
What Palestinians and Israelis need to do now is to take actions that will create a more hopeful future for the children of Palestine—these actions would have the opposite effect.

The United Nations Report

Date: 15 April 2008
Mr. Maxwell Gaylard
Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process
United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian and
Development activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

Dear Mr. Gaylard,
I am writing to you in my capacity of chair of the inter-agency Protection Sector Working Group (PSWG) in the oPt and on behalf of its members.
The PSWG would like to seek the Humanitarian Coordinator’s intervention regarding the IsraeliDefense Force’s (IDF) recent order to close and confiscate establishments owned by the Islamic Charitable Society in the city of Hebron (translated copies of the orders are enclosed). The closure and confiscation orders stipulate that the Islamic Charitable Society is an illegal organisation affiliated with Hamas, impose the closure of targeted establishments for three years and transfer their ownership to the IDF. The establishments affected include a school under construction for 1500 girls, the Al Huda market building - which includes a children’s library, eights shops, a physiotherapy centre, a dental and a cardiology clinic, three NGOs, including the Muslim Youth Society - the Islamic Charitable Society’s warehouse a restaurant and two bakeries. The Charitable Society employs close to 550 staff, including teachers and counselors.The Charitable Society also runs two orphanages. Although no written orders were issued by the IDF relating to these orphanages, the IDF has issued oral instructions to close these institutions and to evict their residents. These instructions were allegedly followed by two raids
on the orphanages. In one of these raids (on 6 March) the IDF apparently confiscated all the clothing, food, stationary and other supplies of the children. A second raid was reportedly carried out in the middle of the night, causing harassment and fear among the children. These orphanages accommodate and care for 3192 children, out of whom 95 children cannot return home due to severe economic hardship and 55 who have no family at all. The remaining 3042 children have either one single parent or only extended family. It is understood that as of now, the Hebron Islamic Charitable Society has no contingency plans for shelter or humanitarian assistance for these children, should they be forcibly evicted.
To read the report..............

Press Statement

Occupied Palestinian Territory, 24.04.08

We the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations express our grave concern over the recent Israeli military orders closing and transferring ownership of property owned by the Islamic Charitable Society in the city of Hebron in the so-called H1 area which is ostensibly under the full control of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The property targeted includes residential units, two orphanages, a school under construction, several shops and two clinics. Despite the fact that the military orders are presently being challenged before the competent Israeli judicial authorities, the Israeli army has carried out military operations partially implementing the orders, including the destruction and appropriation of property belonging to civilians. The orders and consequent military operations contravene international humanitarian and human rights law, severely infringing upon the rights of thousands of Palestinian civilians - in particular children, who are the beneficiaries of the specialized services of the Society.

As an Occupying Power, Israel has the legal obligation of providing for the welfare of the occupied population, including facilitating the proper working of institutions devoted to the care and education of children. The destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity is a blatant violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime. Additionally, halting the provision of essential services to the civilian population infringes upon their right to education, health and adequate standard of living, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Israel is a State Party.

These measures have negatively impacted upon one of the most vulnerable groups of society, children, to whom Israel, the Occupying Power, has a duty to provide special protection under international humanitarian law and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Additionally, these orders affecting organizations in locations under the full administrative control of the PNA, undermine the designated powers of the PNA and the application of existing Palestinian laws, including Law No.1 of 2000 Concerning Charitable Associations and Civil Society Organizations.

Should the military orders be fully implemented, the result will also be the unlawful forcible displacement of hundreds of people, mainly orphans living on the premises, prohibited under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and human rights law, including the Principles on Internal Displacement.

We call upon:

· The State of Israel, as the Occupying Power, to uphold its legal obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect the occupied population and to ensure their welfare. In particular, the State of Israel must afford special protection to vulnerable groups such as children. We therefore urge the Israeli army to cancel the orders imposing closure and transfer of ownership of the property of the Islamic Charitable Society.

· The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to uphold their legal obligation under Article 1 to ensure that Israel respects its legal duties under the Convention. In particular, the member States of the European Union, which have shown a strong commitment to ensuring respect of international humanitarian law in their Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with International Humanitarian Law (2005/C327/04), must take concrete steps to enforce international humanitarian law in relation to Israel's violations.

· The United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian and Development activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to urgently examine the needs and vulnerabilities of the persons affected by the orders imposing closure and transfer of ownership of the property of the Islamic Charitable Society. In light of the grave infringements upon the rights of the civilian population, we urge the United Nations Coordinator for Humanitarian and Development activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to support our request to cancel these orders.

Defence for Children International – Palestine Section
The Palestinian Non-governmental Organisations' Network (PNGO)
Women's Studies Centre
Jerusalem Legal Aid Center
Applied Research Institute Jerusalem
Palestinian Network of Children's Rights
Health Work Committees
Palestinian Medical Relief Society
YMCA – Beit Sahour
Union of Social Workers and Psychologists

International Women's Peace Service Statement of Support
For Hebron Orphans
23 April 2008

The International Women's Peace Service support the campaign to halt the illegal activity of the Israeli military in its attempt to close the Islamic Charitable Society, as well the orphanages and schools run by the organization. The ICS provides shelter and care to 240 orphans in the orphanages, educates more than 1700 students and aids an additional 4000 students and 5000 needy families.
IWPS support the campaign to keep the orphanages and schools open and call on all those who support human rights to all show support for the campaign.

World Vision Statement in Support of the Hebron Orphans
23 April 2008

I am extremely concerned about the threat to two hundred and forty orphans who are at risk of having their orphanages shut down in Hebron. There is no justification for impacting so many children and creating another trauma that will leave an indelible mark on them. I appeal for a reversal of the military confiscation order and for the Israeli authorities to allow the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) to continue the community service that it carries out on behalf of 7000 children.

Charles Clayton, Director

World Vision Jerusalem