HEBRON DISTRICT: Palestinian Authority raids charities, arrests employees
Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron calls on individuals and organizations to contact the Palestinian Prime Minister's Office following recent Palestinian Authority (PA) arrests and raids on charities in the West Bank.
Thursday night, the Palestinian Authority arrested two employees of the Beit Ummar Orphans Care Society, and the Israeli military arrested five board members of the organization.
These arrests come after Palestinian security services raided four charities and two printing houses in the Hebron area on 6 August. ¬†The security forces raided the "Mujama' Islami" Headquarters in El-Thahiriya, the Islamic Cultural Center in Taffouh, Benevolent Islamic Society in Beit Ula, and the orphanage in Beit Ummar, according to the Palestine Center for Human Rights.
CPT visited the Beit Ummar Orphans Care Society on 13 August and documented the destruction following the raid.¬† (See video of the raid at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oijsIYmBnFM.)¬† According to a volunteer with the orphanage, forty-five soldiers entered the building armed with guns and teargas. ¬†The soldiers proceeded to confiscate all files and computers, including every computer in the school's computer lab. ¬†They also locked the doors to the orphanage's kitchen and food storehouse. ¬†When one employee asked to see a written order authorizing the raid, soldiers beat him with an electric rod.
Another employee was also beaten and the soldiers never produced the order.¬† The forces conducted the raid "in a savage way," the volunteer said. ¬†"Even the Israeli soldiers do not treat the employees like this," he added.
The PA and the Israeli military have targeted the orphanage on two previous occasions. ¬†The PA froze the society's bank accounts four months ago, and Israeli forces had arrested two employees, including the head of the orphanage. ¬†The PA and Israel have accused the organization of both funding Hamas and receiving funds from Hamas, though they have failed to produce evidence of this connection.
"For the first time since 2000 we cannot pay for the orphans and employees," said the volunteer.
The Beit Ummar Orphans Care Society was established in 1999 and serves about 1000 needy families in addition to 200 orphans. ¬†The orphanage also operates a school and kindergarten, which has 250 students up to grade 4.¬† Beit Ummar residents donated most of the land and the building costs.
The Palestinian Authority relies on international aid, especially from the European Union (EU) and United States, to fund its security services. ¬†At a conference in Berlin on June 24, donors committed $240 million to strengthening Palestinian security forces. ¬†Prior to that conference, the United States had committed $60 million to training and assisting the security forces.¬† CPT urges individuals and organizations to contact the Palestinian Authority about these raids and arrests.
Please let Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's office know that you are concerned about the use of donor monies to shut down orphanages, benevolent organizations, and charity organizations. ¬†Most of these institutions predate Hamas and Israel and the PA have offered no clear proof that they are funded by or funding Hamas.
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's office
Palestine (02 295 0970); Europe (00 972 2 295 0970); US/Canada (011 972 2 295 0970)