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Nobel Peace Laureate Calls for Global Condemnation of Israeli Army Actions against Orphans in Hebron

“This behavior is immoral, unethical and illegal”

“What are the UK and Tony Blair dong about this?”

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. Despite her experience with many suffering peoples, she said that 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 poor. The orphanages are at the heart of programs run by the Islamic Charitable Institutions in Hebron, who have served the needy of that city since 1962.

“I was shocked and horrified to see the destruction of these Islamic Institutions.

The threats of the Israeli Army and Government against Orphans must be loudly

resisted by all of us concerned for a violence free and peaceful world for Muslim

Children, indeed for all our children. This behavior is immoral, unethical and illegal.

The Israeli Government should be held accountable by the International Community for its abuse of the rights of the children to safety and education. As occupiers of this country they have legal obligations to protect the occupied, especially women and children. “

On Tuesday, 26 February, the Israeli military issued the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) in Hebron 6 military orders for confiscations and closure of the various facilities of the society. These included two bakeries, an apartment building and administrative buildings, a new shopping mall, the warehouse, three schools and two orphanages.

To date they have confiscated a warehouse with over $300,000 worth of school supplies, clothing, and food, two new school buses, and an apartment building with thirty units. Two bakeries supplying 5,000 families with bread have been raided and all the equipment removed. The gates of a $2,000,000 school for 1200 students, scheduled to open on Sept. 2008 have been welded shut. A sewing center where the girls learned a craft and earned small sums was closed and all the contents confiscated. In the past week schools and kindergartens belonging to the Charities in Shyukh and Beit Ula, villages near Hebron have also been sealed and all of their contents confiscated. Soldiers took examination papers, birth certificates and school records as well as equipment amounting to about $30K.

“The outside world, for the most part, “Maguire continues, ” is unaware of this Israeli Government’s Policy of demonization and willful destruction of the Muslim Institutions, one by one, in an attempt to destroy the spirit and resilience of the Muslim communities, not only in Hebron but throughout the illegally occupied Palestinian territories. It was for me horrific to witness how the Israeli Government’s, (and the USA/UK Governments’) War on Terrorism comes to be played out on the streets of Hebron against Orphan children. If the schools and orphanages continue to be closed down, and the military continue to destroy completely these institutions, then 7000 children will be without school and 4,500 children will be without homes

“ The excuse given by the Army” Maguire continues, “ is that these Islamic Institutions are a front for ‘Hamas’ but the Islamic Charitable Society was established in l962, and all their financial dealings and accounting are completely open [and have been so since the founding]. “The money for the school and orphanages comes from local investments (they have their own businesses), from donors abroad and from Arab and Western countries (Prince Charles, through a UK Trust has donated towards these orphanages).”

The only criterion for helping the orphans is that their families are unable to care for them; there is no political agenda in their selection. The Army also makes the entirely generic charge that the Charities assist prisoner’s families, and although the PA, most major UN groups and NGOs do provide such assistance, the Charities do not.

The Israeli measures in Hebron constitute a series of violations of articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; article 39 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; article. 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; article 50 (GCIV), which stipulates the duty of the Occupying Power to facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children; article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which relates to right to education of children; and article 9 of UDHR, which guarantees protection against arbitrary arrest and detention. An identical protection is guaranteed by Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, the measures are a violation of the Oslo Agreement and the The Israeli measures in Hebron constitute a series of violations of articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; article 39 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; article. 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; article 50 (GCIV), which stipulates the duty of the Occupying Power to facilitate the proper working of all institutions devoted to the care and education of children; article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which relates to right to education of children; and article 9 of UDHR, which guarantees protection against arbitrary arrest and detention. An identical protection is guaranteed by Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Furthermore, the measures are a violation of the Oslo Agreement and the Hebron Agreement that were signed by Israel in 1995 and 1997, respectively

“The United Kingdom has many questions to answer here too.” Maguire charges. “Tony Blair is based in East Jerusalem, (a few hours from Hebron), so he is well aware of this systematic and willful destruction of Islamic charitable institutions and his brief is to help

Palestinian economic reconstruction. How ironic whilst he is suppose to be helping businesses etc., the Israeli military are in the dead of night, spreading terror and destruction of the Islamic communities. What are Mr. Blair and the UK governments

doing about this?”

.Due primarily to the efforts of the Christian Peace Makers (an Ecumenical Group supporting violence reduction in Hebron} a wide variety of supporters, including Jimmy Carter, the Desmond Tutu Foundation, the UN Commission on Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights, YMCA’s, etc. 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.

The Charities and their supporters have appealed to the Israeli High Court , which has refused to issue a stop order and has scheduled a hearing on the issues of the case in October. Without the stop order the Army can close the Orphanages any time if they feel international interest has faded. The role of international and Israeli supporters has played an important role is saving the few surviving institutions that provide a safety net in this economically devastated city, which has lost 70% of its income due to the checkpoints and other closures of the Occupation.

for more details and pictures of Maguires’s visit and of the Army during the confiscation of property, see; http://www.hebronorphans.blogspot.com

Contacts: Christian Peace Makers: 02 222 8485 (office),

CPT Spokesperson Art Arbour 054-733-7056

Email:[email protected]

Orphanages contact: Prof. Rasheed 0599 252211 [email protected]