The Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) in Hebron held a press conference on Thursday regarding the new Israeli army orders issued against them.
Speakers at Thursday's press conference included the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT), Hebron, teachers and students from Al-Shari'yah Girls School in Hebron, Othman Abu Sabha of Palestinian Union of Medical Relief Committees, Doctors of the World, and Tim Rothermel, spokesperson for President Jimmy Carter.
The Charitable society runs several projects in Hebron, and is also running three schools and two orphanages serving 7000 children, 300 of whom are living in the Society's buildings. On 25 February 2008, the General of Command (GOC) of the Israeli army, ordered the closure, evacuation, and confiscation of all properties and institutions funded by the Islamic Charitable Society. The order was to be implemented on April 1st. The Israeli army claims that the charitable Society has ties with the Hamas movement.
The Society filed an appeal to the Israeli High Court of Justice, which on April 2nd gave the army four days to file its justification for the close and evacuation. The allotted period ended last week and the army demanded more time. On April 19th, the Israeli army said that they have "secret files" which justify their claims.
The High Court of Justice has not yet made a decision on the matter. A new deadline of Monday, April 28th has been issued by the Israeli military. They have demanded the closure of the sewing workshop in the girl’s orphanage, which was seen by the ICS as a major step towards the take-over of their building and towards the full closure of the orphanage and the school. Without court approved justification, the army has already raided the central warehouse and confiscated over $300,000 worth of school supplies, clothing, and food, as well as two new school buses and a van.
They raided the bakeries that had been supplying the orphanages, removing inventory and destroying ovens. The military welded shut the gates of a $2,000,000 school for 1200 students, scheduled to open in September.
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. It employs more than 700 teachers, counselors, and other support staff. Addul-Kareem Farrah, the legal advisor of the Islamic Charitable Society told the IMEMC that the Society is legal and only answers to the Palestinian Authority law.
"The society is legally registered and is operating since 1962, it is located in the Palestinian Authority (P.A) control areas, according to the Oslo agreement, in which all control, management and security were given in those areas to the P.A. Therefore, the P.A. is the only side responsible for this organization," Farrah stated.