240 Orphans are about to loose their shelter and care, 1700 children are about to loose their education, and an additional 4000 students and 5000 needy families are about to loose their support base. They all rely on the facilities and care provided by The Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) in Hebron which runs 2 orphanages, 3 schools, 2 bakeries (to provide food for the orphanages), a dairy, a sewing workshop, a big mall and a 30 apartment building.
These facilities are not likely serve the community much longer as the Israeli Military has issued closure and confiscation orders on all property of the Islamic Charitable Society. Why? Because the Israeli Military accuses the ICS of being connected to Hamas, despite the fact that they have provided all requested certifications. The books of the ICS are open to inspection by the authorities and are audited by the Palestinian Authority, the schools fall under full supervision of the Palestinian Ministry of Education and the curriculum is identical to that taught in Palestinian Authority Schools.
The case has been brought before the Israeli High Court which still has to decide on the matter. Normally this would mean that one cannot act until the verdict is made. In this case however, the military did not have the patience to wait for this and acted under a so-called ‘emergency regulation’.
The Israeli Military raids have started on March 6th when the central warehouse in the Al-Harayeq area was targeted and everything needed to supply for the children and families was confiscated. The gates of the nearly completed girls’ school were welded shut and one of the two bakeries which provided bread for the children was ransacked; all equipment was destroyed.
Members of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) and other internationals started to spend the night at the orphanages to ensure that their would be an international presence to document the violations. In the mean time the orphans have been evacuated and are staying with relatives, it is unknown if and when they will be able to return to their homes.
As expected the raids did not stop and so far the Israeli Military has returned three more times. First, on April 15 to destroy the second bakery and to set the oven on fire with its own fuel. Second, on April 30 to destroy the sewing workshop of the girls school; confiscating and ruining all equipment and even cutting up the sewing tables. The destroyed materials were later found in the city dump. Third, on June 5 to raid the ICS branches in Beit Ula and Shuyuk (close to Hebron) in order to confiscate and ransack schools, kitchens, kindergartens and administrative offices. Materials were not only destroyed, some were confiscated, amongst them orphan’s files, examinations and even birth certificates from the school.
Nobody knows when the next raid will be and what type of destruction this will bring. However, many people are standing up to save the orphanages from destruction and the AIC supports these initiatives. Next week it is my turn to spend the night.
If you would like to know more or find out how you can support the Hebron orphans, please visit their website at http://hebronorphans.blogspot.com .
Posted By Rianne Van Doeveren
Posted Jun 15th, 2008