Category Archives: Donations

Israeli Occupation Builds Villas for Carmel Settlers, Destroys the Hut of their Widow Neighbor. YOU Can Do Something about it.

Miyaser Al-Hatheleen is a 45-year-old woman living in Umm al-Kheir, South Hebron Hills. Her house was first demolished by the Israeli Occupation authorities in October 2008, together with other dwellings belonging to her relatives (see our original 2008 report about these demolitions). In July 2009, Miyaser’s husband Salem passed away, leaving behind him his widowed wife and their seven children: Manal (now age 18), Tareq (17), Husam (15), Ahmad (13), Khulood (11), Maysoon (8) and Gamila (6).

No, this is not the home the Occupation authorities is building for Miyaser in compensation for the 2008 demolitions. These are villas being built only a few minutes walk away, expanding the Carmel (Karmel) settlement, on land confiscated and/or denied from the local Bedouins and Palestinians. This construction is underway with heavy subsidies from the Israeli government, whose political pretext for the expansion is “natural growth of the settlements.”

After the 2008 demolitions, Miyaser’s extended family at Umm al-Kheir built for her and her children a small house – or rather, a hut – made of mud and stones:

Yet, even this extremely poor dwelling place was too much in the eyes of the Occupation regime. Last week, on January 25 2012, while the heavy machinery keeps swallowing the hill near Carmel settlement in order to make room for the building of spacious new houses for Umm al-Kheir’s Israeli neighbors, a “fellow bulldozer” made its way to the indigenous village – not for construction, but for demolition work that left once again Miyaser’s home in ruins. It should be noted that the past few weeks in Israel-Palestine have been very cold and wet. Umm-Al-Kheir sits some 800m above sea level, with nightly temperature near freezing.

Over the last weekend, the Hatheleen family of Umm al-Kheir and activists of the Taayush movement erected together a small tin home for Miyaser and her children.

A different, yet effective way of helping Miyaser, even by those of you who live far way, is suggested by us here: Miyaser is a skillful embroider. She is willing to sell her embroidery art, such as table maps and runners.

During the last year we have been able to sell several of Miyaser’s embroidery pieces here in Israel, and also in Durham, United Kingdom (by the help of our friends there, Shlomit and Alison). Anyone who wants to help Miyaser and her family by buying her embroidery works (or in another creative way), is invited to contact us at our Villages Group’s address: villagesgroup1@gmail.com. We will ship Miyaser’s art to you. If you live in the UK, Villages Group activists are due to visit Shlomit and Alison soon and bring them a new collection of Miyaser’s embroidery.

Ehud Krinis on behalf of the Villages Group (with additions from Assaf)

PS: this recent demolition is part of a broader pattern, that has been continuing for years but escalating recently. For more background about the current wave of Occupation vandalism in South Hebron Hills, and in West Bank Area C in general, see this post from November, and this one from 2009.

Update about Sausan and Amal, 2 Palestinian Girls Arrested as their Home was Demolished

Our last Villages Group post reported the demolition of structures, including homes and a mosque, in the Palestinian village of Al-Mufaqara (also known as Umm-Faqra) in southern West Bank.

The destruction was perpetrated on November 24 by Israeli civilian contractors (see here for a brief report in Ha’aretz). They were hired by the deceptively named “Civil Administration” – an arm of Israel’s military Occupation apparatus which poses as a legitimate governing body. The name “Civil Administration” was invented deliberately in the 1980′s by then-defense minister Ariel Sharon, in order to confuse and confound people about this body’s true nature. Its main business these days seems to be to harass, refuse permits, and eventually destroy property belonging to Palestinians, in order to “clear” them out of West Bank areas that Israel wants to eventually annex.

The civilian contractors and deceptively-named “Civil Administration” thugs were accompanied by ordinary IDF soldiers. As can be seen in the video below, throughout the demolition neither contractors, nor CA thugs, nor IDF soldiers, acted or looked like people under any form of threat or duress.

That did not stop them from arresting and carting off two female Palestinian youth: 21-year-old Sausan Hamamdeh and her 17-year-old cousin Amal. Some of the events around and immediately after their arrest are in the video, around minutes 1:30-3:00. The video was filmed by Guy Batavia, activist with Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights.

Amal and Rasha (Sausan’s sister) gave us a detailed account of the arrest: during the demolition Sausan was stressed, realizing her home was about to be demolished without the women of the family having a chance to remove its contents. According to the present Israeli procedure of house demolitions, the removal of the house contents is carried out only by a contractor’s firm hired for this purpose. Sausan’s attempt to force her way into her home to clear out belongings led to her being pepper-sprayed in the eyes by one of the soldiers, and to her arrest.

Amal was arrested as she tried to provide Sausan a water bottle to relieve the stinging in her eyes. Water from the bottle squirted out and wet the soldier who was preventing Amal from giving Sausan the bottle, and that was the reason for Amal’s arrest.

Sausan (image on right) and Amal were then taken by army jeep to the police station at Kiryat Arba settlement. During the ride one of the soldiers in the jeep tried to sexually harass Amal and also kicked her in the belly.

After the interrogation at the Kiryat Arba police station, Sausan and Amal were driven to Jerusalem where they were placed in detention at the infamous “Russian Compound” detention center. Conditions at the facility (which they shared with another inmate) were very severe – it was a very cold week in Jerusalem and the room had an air conditioner that was cooling rather than heating the place.

Repeated requests by the women to turn it off were refused by their jailers. Amal’s stay in this room lasted five days, whereas Sausan spent a whole week there (she said it felt like a year).

On November 28th the two youngsters appeared at the Occupation’s kangaroo military court in the Ofer base. We have a full account of the proceedings, thanks to a Machsom Watch volunteer being present. Here are a few excerpts:

…the charge [for both girls] is: attacking a soldier. While the representatives of the Civil Administration, together with soldiers and Border Police came to demolish her house, Sausan picked up a stone [later described as a ‘rock’] and hit a BP officer on the hand. Sausan was arrested. Then Amal came on the scene and poured water on the officer.

This is the prosecution’s version. A CPT observer who was on the scene issued quite a different report (.doc file):

The second family’s [whose home was destroyed] 21-year-old daughter confronted the Israeli soldiers when they marched into their home and began throwing the bedding outside. When she asked what they were doing, one soldier said, “Get out of my sight.” The daughter refused; in response, the soldier threatened, “If you don’t move, we will do even more,” and sprayed her in the face with tear gas. The other solders began kicking her as she fell to the ground.

…The 21-year-old’s cousin, who is 17, tried to bring her water to soothe her eyes. The soldiers arrested them both…

The Machsom Watch account continues:

The prosecution agreed to Amal’s release that day (perhaps because she is a minor, or because squirting a soldier with water is not such a serious violation) in return for a 4000 shekel deposit. The defense explained that Amal cannot afford to pay such a sum: she is the daughter of a destitute shepherd, and besides, her house has been destroyed.

The judge’s decision: He’s willing to consider reduced bail, plus third person Israeli guarantor (me) to insure that the defendant shows up for a hearing, should one take place on 21.12.11. …The judge also ordered the Prison Authorities to provide Sausan with a coat, after seeing the girls shiver, since they were wearing the same clothes they were arrested in 4 days earlier.

I wondered how the released underage girl was going to get home that day, with no money and no proper clothes. My concern proved well founded: She was released from the Russian Compound detention center in the evening. An Israeli friend of the family who inquired where he could pick her up was told to wait for her at Qalandiya Checkpoint [north of Jerusalem]. The man waited for 5 hours only to learn later that the girl had been released at Bethlehem Checkpoint [south of Jerusalem]. Amal reached home at 10 PM.

In the end, Sausan was released on Thursday evening [Dec. 1]. This time two activists waited for her at Bethlehem Checkpoint to drive her home. But they waited in vain, because she was released at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem (thus turning her into an “Illegal infiltrator” into Israel). A taxi driver took her home.

Today, Monday December 19, Sausan’s case reached a verdict. As usual in the Occupation’s kangaroo-court system, it is based on a plea bargain, whose terms are negotiated based on whatever confessions or negative testimonies the interrogators managed to get out of the defendant, vs. the level of success by the defense to demonstrate how ridiculous the original charges were (Occupation charge-sheets are invariably inflated). In Sausan’s case, the overall balance yielded a relatively mild outcome. Ehud just emailed me the verdict (pdf file, Hebrew).

I sentence the defendant to:

A. 8 days arrest, as many as she had already spent imprisoned.
B. One month arrest in the event she repeats the offense within two years.
C. A monetary fine of NIS 3,000, to be taken out of the bail posted on behalf of the defendant…

So Sausan is back home. A proper court would have thrown out the case, based on abuse in custody, lack of access to legal counsel when a (partially retracted) confession was elicited from the defendant, conflicting testimonies of the event, and several other reasons. The heavy-handedness in treating Sausan and Amal stands in glaring contradiction to the numerous assaults on soldiers by the Israeli settlers whose interests these soldiers serve – assaults that usually go unpunished. We should also call out the routine dirty trick of over-arresting and over-charging Palestinians, which then helps the judges of these kangaroo courts appear enlightened when they encourage more lenient plea bargains – when in fact, the judges have not lifted a finger towards carrying out their duties of overseeing true justice and guiding a search for the truth about events.

The fine, and the lawyer’s fees, are a very steep sum for the Hamamdeh family to pay. But at least Sausan is home and facing a relatively benign fine. Moreover, the charges against her 17-year old Amal are now almost certain to be dropped.

Finally: this story has struck a chord among people in Israel’s social-justice activism community, shinining a light upon the woeful injustice in Occupation in general and South Hebron Hills in particular, and inspiring solidarity action among female activists. Last week, after reading Ehud’s account of Sausan and Amal’s arrest on the Rabbis for Human Rights website, several organizers of this summer’s mass rallies in Israel for social justice visited the region with Villages Group activists. They filmed an interview with Sausan, and decided to take further action.

These activists are organizing a fundraising concert on Sausan’s behalf, on December 28 2011 at Beit Ha’am, 8:30 PM, in Rotschild Avenue Tel Aviv – the epicenter of the summer’s protests and the resulting movement. Top-notch Israeli Singer-songwriter Rona Keinan, a consistently brave and outspoken voice for justice and human rights in Israel-Palestine, has already pledged to appear. Emerging musician Ruth Dolores-Weiss will also appear. We will post an update about the event within a few days.

South Hebron Hills Update

Dear friends and supporters,

About one month ago we reported to you on the state of the local schoolhouse in Palestinian Susiya as its second school year opened. Visiting the school on Thursday November 2nd, 2011, we witnessed an impressive development in the construction of the school’s permanent building. These works are undertaken as a joint initiative of the NGO Action Against Hunger/ ACF International, and the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees.


For our modest part, we brought the school a laptop computer that will serve the teachers from now on (we would be grateful to receive and bring the teaching staff additional laptops). We hope that soon we shall be able to meet the teachers’ request to receive Hebrew language lessons – Erella, of our group, is considering taking this task upon herself and we hope that within a few weeks we can report to you that a weekly Hebrew course for the school teachers is already under way.

A little while before arriving at the Susiya school, we learned of yet another act of destruction inflicted by the Israeli Military Occupation’s “Civil Administration” arm. A bulldozer destroyed the power pylons that have lately been installed between the village of Al-Tuwani and the cave hamlet of Umm Faqara, as part of the infrastructure that was to connect Umm Faqara with the regional power grid. This act of destruction by the “Civil Administration” is perfectly consistent with the long-term policy exerted by the Israeli Occupation authorities, in order to prevent the connection of the cave hamlets in the South Hebron Hills to infrastructure such as water and power. The motivation underlying this policy is to deny the legitimacy of these Palestinian communities and to eventually eliminate their existence.

Ehud Krinis

Please Help Palestinian Community Organizer Follow His Dreams

From David and Ehud at the Villages Group:

Hi friends

I am happy to tell you that Ibrahim Nawaja, who has run the Susiya creative and learning center, with great success , for almost a year (see also video below), has been accepted to Dar Al Kalima college (Arabic link) to study Documentary Film Making. This is a great opportunity for him.

For those who know Ibrahim, you know what an exceptional, creative and sensitive person he is and the imagination and dedication with which he approached his role in the Susiya creative and learning center (see attachment).

Ibrahim is from Susiya, a small, rural village in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank. The area is a difficult one for its Palestinian residents because of the presence of the Israeli settlers and army, and the constant pressure on residents of villages like Susiya to move away from their land. Ibrahim and others have created the Susiya center as part of their attempts to resist this situation and for their community to flourish despite the difficult circumstances. A crucial part of such projects has been the engagement of people like Ibrahim in their communities to imagine something different.

Over the past few years Ibrahim has been writing poetry and running artistic activities such as theatre and improvisation workshops with the children in Susiya, bringing his creative skills in to his role as a community organiser. Ibrahim now has the opportunity now to develop his skills and to be creatively engaging in a new way.

We are trying to raise funds for Ibrahim’s tuition and part of his living expenses since he will have to move to Bethlehem. The overall cost is 3000 euros for a year. We are trying to raise 2000 Euros, and Ibrahim and his family will try and raise the remaining 1000 euros. As you read this mail, people have already pledged 800 Euros in the last few days, which will permit Ibrahim to register and be enrolled for 6 months.

If you want to help you can:

foward this mail to other people who you think want to help Ibrahim.

Give a donation –

You make a check to the “Villages Group” and send it to:

The Villages Group
po box 6023
Tel-Aviv 61060
Israel

Or make a bank transfer to the following account

Bank Name Bank Leumi
Bank Identification Code LUMIILITXXX
Routing Code IL010985
Account Name Villages Group
Account Number 98508670082
IBAN Number IL 67010985-000000-8670082
Bank Address: Ben-Gurion & Rashi, Kiryat Malachi 83036 Israel

If you make a donation, or further information, please contact David or Ehud

The Villages Group email – villagesgroup1@gmail.com
or you can contact David by phone +972-54-6597551

On behalf of the Villages Group

David

Ehud adds:

For the past four years, the on-going aid of US-Omen has enabled us to support about 20 students from South Mt. Hebron each semester. The great majority of these students study at the branch of Al-Quds Open University located in their near home town of Yatta. The cost of the scholarships provided to each of those students, one that covers most of their tuition fees, is 500 Euros (650 Dollars) on average.

As the case of Ibraim’s studies is different and exceptional both in terms of the location of the academic institute and the overall cost, we found ourselves this time in need to bring it to our friends’ attention in a separate appeal.

One of the important aspects of the work of the Villages Group is to strengthen the communities by enabling individuals to develop and realize their abilities for themselves and their communities. This is one of the Villages Group ways of defeating the Occupation – by encouraging inner strength.

Restrooms and Sanitation at Umm-Al-Kheir (a story for Shavuot)

Mohammed Salem is about 30 years old. He lives in Umm-Al-Kheir, in a home inherited from his late father right next to the fence of the Carmel settlement (sometimes spelled “Karmel”; see picture on right).

In 2005, when Carmel built an expansion neighborhood, Mohammed was beaten by settlers involved in the construction. Since this assault, he has suffered from post-traumatic stress (PTSD). He has stopped functioning, fears and runs away from any stranger, and even from some family members.

Mohammed’s home, one of the few still standing in that part of Umm-Al-Kheir – a village suffering continual destruction from the Occupation authorities – does not have a restroom. Therefore, residents must perform their bodily functions outdoors. On Wednesday, May 25 2011, while Mohammed was outside for that reason, he was harrangued by settlers yelling, cursing and making threats. These new, government-backed residents living in fully-connected homes have had enough with this ongoing sanitation problem placed not far from their doorstep.

This story crosses paths with another story: about two years ago, Ta’ayush activist Ezra Nawi initiated a campaign to build outhouses at Umm-Al-Kheir. Shortly after work commenced, Carmel settlers complained to the Occupation’s “Civil Administration” about the travesty of restrooms being built for their neighbors. The “Administration” quickly geared into action, its men arriving on site, confiscating materials and posting work-stoppage order signs on those structures already standing. This government action has caused a European organization that provided most of the funding, to pull out of the project. In particular, Mohammed’s outhouse had never been completed; the floor was laid out, but the walls and ceiling are still missing (see pictures).

In these days, in view of the plight of Mohammed and his family, we intend to resume Ezra’s initiative, completing that one outhouse and building a second one in the same part of Umm-Al-Kheir. Cost is estimated at NIS 4,000. For details, feel free to contact Ehud Krinis: ksehud “at” gmail.

We hope that this time around, the good citizens of Carmel will allow the residents of Umm-Al-Kheir to complete the construction, and thus resolve the sanitary problem that is so irritating to them.

[ A note from Assaf
Ehud sent me this story with the title mentioning Shavuot, a Jewish holiday taking place right now, from Tuesday night through Thursday. He did not explain why the reference, but here is one possible explanation:

On Shavuot, we read the Biblical Book of Ruth. Ruth was a foreigner - a Moabite widow who arrived to Bethlehem, Judea, with her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi's family had lived in Moab for ten years, and then all men in the family had died. Naomi, about to return home, offered her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab with their families. Ruth refused and accompanied Naomi to Bethlehem, where she - a young foreign widow living in a man-less household and having no male offspring - would find herself on the lowest rung of the social ladder.

They lived in poverty subsisting on aid. Then, the wealthy landowner Boaz got to know her, fell in love and they lived happily ever after. King David is said to be descended from them.

The settlers of Carmel, observant Jews sitting in Judea, no doubt read the story today. They also spend - as is the custom - all night in Tikkun studying and discussing the ancient scriptures and their moral lessons.

All the while, they are willfully blind to the plain fact that they are playing a lead role in a twisted parody on the story of Ruth. Like Ruth, Mohammed and his fellow villagers are Gaerim - non-Jews in a territory controlled by Jews. Unlike Ruth, the villagers have lived there long before the Jews came. Like Boaz, the settlers are wealthy. However, unlike him their wealth has no legitimacy save in their own blinded eyes. The government robbed the land from the locals, handed it over to them - and they, supposedly moral and observant, couldn't care less. They believe in a different law for Jews and for non-Jews, rather than in treating Gaerim with justice.

Finally, unlike Boaz who opened his heart to the foreign woman and went through all the legalistic moves, some of them unpleasant, in order to make her his lawful wife rather than exploit her as a mistress - the Carmel settlers manipulate and control a "law" enforcement apparatus, the "Civil Administration", whose chief purpose is to keep non-Jews discriminated, humiliated and robbed of their rights and property. In short, the Book of Ruth is about individuals doing the right thing under difficult circumstances imposed on them. The settlers and the Israeli government, by contrast, impose themselves on the locals, and insist on continuing to do the wrong thing at every turn, as long as they can get away with it.

The settlers assauge their doubtlessly unclean conscience, by occasional acts of charity - all the while complaining about their neighbors' unsanitary ways and low morals.

Happy Shavuot. Please help end this disgrace to Judaism and to Jews everywhere, before our lifetime is over.]

May 21, 2011: Music Teachers and Students from Tel-Aviv Visit Salem’s Music Center

Last Saturday, May 21st, 2011, the music center in Salem village near Nablus hosted teachers and pupils of Tel Aviv Municipal Arts High School A. This visit is a result of the ties that the school principal, Ram Cohen, and Dr. Ruthie Katz, the school’s music major coordinator, began to nurture with the Salem Music Center

Last summer. About two months ago, the staff of the music center visited the Tel Aviv Arts High School. They attended a demonstration class prepared for them by Mario Solan, musical expression teacher, and his students, Itamar Bellaiche and Noam Da Kalo. Last Saturday, Itamar and Noam arrived with their mothers Anna and Mali for their first visit at the Salem Music Center and joined a class that took place there, together with Mario and the center’s teachers Jubeir, Wasim and Amid.

Mario’s and Itamar’s clarinet performance enabled the pupils at the center to acquaint themselves with this wind instrument, that has been almost unfamiliar to them until now.

The class began with movement and expression exercises led by David Steinberg, coordinator of the Tel Aviv school’s drama major.

Visiting – beside these guests from the Tel Aviv school – were also Dr. Dochi Lichtenstein of the School for Music Education at Levinsky Teachers Seminar, and Noam Ben Ze’ev, music critic for Haaretz newspaper.

For us, members of the Villages Group who have been following the Salem Music Center program from its onset two years ago, yesterday’s visit was a pleasure and a milestone in the ties we have been tending with the people of this village for the past eight years. Cooperation with the Tel Aviv musicians augments the workshops given by Dr. Felicity Lawrence of Newcastle University at the Salem Center in November 2010 and April 2011. These activities open a window to different and varied musical worlds for the students and teachers in this village, among whose population of 6,000 there was only one single musician until a year ago.

As we updated you last month, the children at the Salem Music Center will be needing more musical instruments from this point on to further their studies and musical development, and enable a new class of students to join. The list of instruments includes 4 violins, 3 ouds, 2 tablas, 4 organs, 3 classical guitars, 1 bass guitar and 1 accordion.

Several donors have already helped us with the donations of one large organ, one accordion and a violin. We appeal to all those who might assist this, whether by donating instruments or making a financial contribution, to contact us as soon as possible. The children’s summer vacation, beginning in about three weeks, is activity-intensive at the center, and we would like to facilitate it with all the necessary instruments in time.

Please feel free to approach me for more information.

Sincerely,

Ehud Krinis (ksehud “at” gmail) for the Villages Group

Villages Group: Planned Projects for 2011

Dear friends and supporters,

In the attached pdf file you will find an overview of the Villages Group’s current programs, appended with the financial requirements of each program.

We encourage anyone of you who wants to help us in achieving the implementation of those programs to get in touch with us.

All the best,

Ehud Krinis in the name of the Villages Group

Second School Year Opens at Salem’s Music Center

On Saturday February 19 we visited the Salem Music Center. We were accompanied by three professionals – Fuad, a music teacher from Tel Aviv-Yaffa, Ram – principal of Tel Aviv’s art high school, and Ruti – head of that school’s music department.

The occasion was the opening of a second school year at the Center, absorbing a second cohort of students in addition to last year’s students who continue their work (see here for a description of the first year’s graduation concert). Some challenges facing the Center in its second year:

  • Moving from the local council building to a rented building dedicated solely to Center activities;
  • Expanding the teacher staff to accommodate the additional students;
  • Expanding the deepening the relationships with professionals in Israel and abroad;
  • Deepening the commitment and involvement of student families, including a larger financial participation in covering costs;
  • Expanding the donor base to enable the increase in activities.

If you are interested in getting involved and supporting, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have a new email address: villagesgroup1@gmail.com.

Or contact Mr. Jubier Ishteh, the Center’s founder and director: jubier10@gmail.com, or the administrative and financial manager, Fadi Ishteh: fadi.ishteh@gmail.com.

All the best,

Ehud Krinis

Please Help Rebuild 13 Water Cisterns Destroyed by the Israeli Army

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We relay and fully endorse this message, from Ta’ayush activists with whom we have been working hand-in-hand for years to protect the right of South Hebron Hill (Massafar Yatta) indigenous residents. Please support their rebuilding effort.

Thanks, The Villages Group.

—————-
The situation of the Palestinian cave-dwellers in South Hebron Hills continues to be difficult. They suffer from permanent harassment carried out by the military and settlers. This year, however, has been even more difficult, due to a severe drought.

As if it wanted to capitalize on the harsh conditions, on December 16th, the Israeli military destroyed 13 water cisterns belonging to Palestinian families in South Hebron hills.
(direct link to video here; Ha’aretz news story here)

The military claims that these water cisterns (or reservoirs) were built illegally and therefore must be destroyed. Some were built in recent years with international assistance, and some were built before 1967 during the Jordanian rule, but still (according to martial law) need Israeli re-authorization. Since the military regime’s “Zone C Planning Committees” are dominated by settlers, there is no chance to obtain such a permit. The cisterns are located on West Bank lands that the Israel has designated for the IDF as “firing zones” – areas the military uses as training sites for live ammunition.

The destruction or the water cisterns leaves the Palestinian shepherds without water sources, and forces them to limit their grazing areas. This is exactly what the Israeli authorities intend to achieve. It makes the life of this population, already probably the poorest in the whole West Bank, all but impossible.

In order to help the Palestinians keep their lands and strengthen the Sumoud (steadfastness) of South Hebron area residents, Taáyush activists have started helping reconstruct the cisterns.

We need $4,200 for each cistern. We have set out to reconstruct ten cisterns, please help us accomplish this goal.

Donation can be made to Taáyush:
Via Bank Deposit

Bank Hapoalim
Branch 574 (‘Hapalmach’)
Account no. 160213
Swift code ‘poalilit’
IBAN: IL61-0125-7400-0000-0160-213

Via Paypal

http://tinyurl.com/taayush-jlm

Please mail Anat566@gmail.com with the donation details.
Thank you in advance,

The south Hebron committee of Taáyush Jerusalem

Please Help the Enrichment Learning Program at the Cave Dwellers Village Umm-Fakra

Dear Friends,

We are appealing to you to ask your assistance in operating a learning enrichment program for the children of the cave-dwellers’ community of Umm-Fakra.

For the last two years we have assisted in conducting an enrichment programs for children in the Bedouin communities of Umm El-Kheir, bordering on the settlement of Carmel.

In light of the positive experience with such programs, and in response to a local initiative – we would like to assist in opening yet another center of learning enrichment programs for children in South Mount Hebron, this time in the locality Umm-Fakra. The annual cost for the first pilot year is estimated at only $4,000 or 3,000 Euro. The Villages Group is able to offer tax-deductible donation via partners in the US and UK (see our donation link for details).

We would be most grateful if you could take the time to read the attached plan (a text-only version follows below), and contact us if you are interested in contributing in any way to its advancement.

This appeal refers to both the new program in Umm-Fakra and to the general initiative of enrichment programs in South Mount Hebron.

Sincerely,

Erella and Ehud,

The Villages Group

——————–

Enrichment Learning Program for Children Aged 6-14 in Umm-Fakra, South Hebron Hills (Massafar Yatta),      Occupied West Bank

The Villages Group, December 2010

Goals:

  1. To establish an educational framework for strengthening and enriching students in primary school to help them cope with learning difficulties and prevent dropout.
  2. To empower an Umm-Fakra resident who is the village’s first university graduate, by employing him to establish and implement the learning & enrichment classes.
  3. The overall goal here—as elsewhere in the South Hebron Mountain—is to empower the residents of Umm-Fakra and support them in their efforts to strengthen and empower their communities. The internal strength of these communities will enable them to withstand the many difficulties they face, and to continue living on their lands.

Background:

The South Hebron Hills (Massafar Yatta) is a mountainous region located in the southern part of the West Bank. Many of its residents are cave dwellers, living in traditional villages. During the years of Israeli occupation, some of these cave villages were destroyed by the army, while others have been deserted by their inhabitants under pressure from Israeli settlers. Those still in existence were saved from eviction by the Israeli authorities through a cooperative effort of local residents and Israeli and international human right organizations.

The surviving villages are not recognized by the Israeli occupation authorities, which have disregarded international law requiring that an occupying force take responsibility for the welfare of residents living in occupied areas. The policy of non-recognition means that the villagers still residing in the area are denied basic services, such as water, electricity, and building permits. It should be noted that the Oslo Accords placed the South Hebron Mountain in Area C, that is, in the areas for which Israel has full responsibility.

Umm-Fakra (Fig. 1) is one of the villages that have survived in spite of the harsh conditions. To its south lies the Arad valley, and to the north – Tuwani, the only recognized Palestinian village in the region. On its eastern perimeter it is flanked by the settlement Ma’on and the violent outpost Chavat Ma’on, while the settlement Avigail sits on Umm-Fakra’s lands to the west. The presence of these settlements severely curtails the access of Umm-Fakra’s residents to the agricultural lands and grazing grounds they legally own, and which provide most of their livelihood.

Of the approximately 120 souls in Umm-Fakra, 30 are children ages 6 through 14 (1st through 8th grades). Today, they attend the primary school in Tuwani, a half-hour walk from their homes. Although Tuwani is a recognized village, the school operates only four hours a day, because Israel’s occupation authorities governing the area do not provide support for the educational system, and the resources provided instead by the Palestinian Authority are minimal.

Rationale

Umm-Fakra’s residents live under harsh conditions: mountainous topography, desert climate, limited sources of livelihood, constant threat of eviction by the occupation authorities, and a de facto creeping eviction by the neighboring settlements.

The harsh conditions, as well as the limited support from an undermined educational system for both struggling students and the most talented ones, are causing learning difficulties: some students fail to acquire the basic skills of reading, writing, and math, while those who master the skills often fail to keep up with their studies at later stages. Many students end up dropping out to help their families out with livelihood and house chores.

Post-elementary education is even harder to obtain. The nearest high school is more than an hour’s walk away, placing students at the mercy of hostile settlers. To reach the universities located in the towns of Yatta and Hebron students must use limited and expensive transportation.

Responsibility for the Program:

Responsibility for establishing and running the proposed program will be taken by Mr. Ali Hmamdeh (Fig. 2). Ali was born and raised in Umm-Fakra. With tenacity and resourcefulness, he has been able to overcome numerous difficulties and successfully graduate from the program in Arabic and Education at the Open University in Yatta (July 2009). He is the first Umm-Fakra resident to hold an academic degree. However, like many degree holding Palestinians, he remains unemployed – victim of a paralyzed occupation economy, and of the Palestinian Authority’s failure to remedy the situation.

Ali has the ability and the desire to contribute to others. Umm-Fakra needs his services. It was Ali who first proposed the idea for an enrichment program for students in his community. Moreover, the members of the Villages’ Group, who have helped fund Ali’s academic studies, support his proposal and are doing what they can to bring it to life.

Program details:

  • Status: Pilot plan for one year (school year and summer vacation).
  • Target population: Umm-Fakra children enrolled in elementary school, 1st through 8th grades (about 30 in all).
  • Place: Existing tent, located over Ali Hmamdeh’s family cave (Fig. 3).
  • Program running times: Weekends (Thursday, Friday, Saturday), 16:00 to 19:00.
  • Educational framework: Two age groups: 6-9 and 10-14; each group will meet for 1.5 hours on each of the three days.
  • Areas of study:
    • Reading and writing skills;
    • Math for beginning grades;
    • Arabic, History, Geography, Quran and tradition.

Additional areas of study will require hiring a second teacher and are proposed for a later phase of the program, based on the success of the initial pilot. These would include: English, Sciences, Art.

Budget:

Teacher’s salary:         NIS 12,000  (calculated at NIS 1,000 per month for 12 months)

Furnishing:                  NIS 1,000 for desks and seats

Teaching materials:   NIS 200 for blackboard;

NIS 500 for chalks, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.

Reserve:                      NIS 1,000

——————————————–

Total:                          NIS 14,700  

[approximately US $4,000 or 3,000 Euro at December 2010 rates]

Note: estimated cost is for the first pilot year.

Contact

Erella Dunayevsky   erelladun@gmail.com

Ehud Krinis              ksehud@gmail.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers