Holy Land: Christian, Jewish groups support Islamic orphanages threatened with closure

 The Israeli Military has been given orders to shut down the orphanages and schools run by the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron. On Monday, the Popular Committee for Supporting the Orphanages hosted a press conference at the Hebron Girls Orphanage with approximately 70 attending, including independent media, internationals, and clergy. The lawyer representing the Islamic Charitable Societies spoke of the invaluable work of serving 2,500 children, 240 of them orphans, aiding an additional 4,000 students and 5,000 needy families, running a dairy and two bakeries, a warehouse and four small store fronts which serve the schools and orphanages of the Hebron area. The warehouse, bakeries and the storefronts were raided on 6 March, The Israeli Military confiscated food, clothing, school supplies, refrigerators and two buses worth $300,000. The lawyer also spoke of how the monies donated to support the orphanages and schools are accounted for and audited by certified public accountants and monitored by the Palestinian Authority. The books are open to audit by the Israeli Government as well. Twenty percent of the monies donated come from the Hebron local community. The other eighty percent come from Europe and the US and Middle East countries. The Islamic Charitable Society is highly respected by locals, NGOs, and other reputable organizations such as Catholic Charities. During the conference Rabbi Arik Ascherman, of Rabbis for Human Rights, spoke to the press conference by speaker phone, saying that under Jewish law there must be evidence brought before the court and that there must be witnesses to that evidence. Even in the name of security, this closure is not warranted, as the Islamic Charitable Society has threatened no human life. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and other internationals slept at the orphanages to accompany, and to document any possible incursion by the Israeli Military; however by midnight of 7 April, the attorney for the Israeli Military had asked for an extension of time to prepare and submit to the court a full justification for the closures of the schools and orphanages. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, see: www.cpt.org

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