March 3: Umm Al-Khayr Villagers Assert Their Right to Remain

UPDATE:  the URGENT ACTION to keep 2 homes and a soccer Field standing succeeded! 
Demolition orders are currently frozen by order of the High Court of Israel

Donna Baranski-Walker meets with Hamed Qawasmeh, the Villages group, and residents of Umm al-Khayr   

Donna Baranski-Walker meets with Hamed Qawasmeh, the Villages group, and residents of Umm al-Khayr



a Stay Human Conference Call with Congress
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Attorney Raffoul Rofa, Director of the Society of St. Yves Catholic Center for Human Rights
Aziz, Villager of Um Al Kheir
Hamed Qawasmeh, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right in Hebron & Villages Group
Erella Dun,Villages Group

Last week, the villagers of Um Al Kheir received demolition orders and, together with their lawyer, scrambled to petition the High Court of Israel to stop imminent demolition.   It worked.  But what happens next time?  In February, 2015, Society of St. Yves raised the alarm:  the Israeli Civil Administration issued dangerous new rules making it even harder to save Palestinian homes and villages from demolition.

Background:   Instead of approving the master plans developed by Palestinian towns and villages, and acknowledging their right to issue building permits (required by the Oslo Accords), the Israeli Government  has issued over 12,500 demolition orders in Area C and in the 62% of the Occupied West Bank administered by Israel. There is no safety-net.  When their home is demolished, Palestinian families lose everything.  In addition, villagers in Umm Al Kheir face the threat of settler violence.  Here is a video made available by Rabbis for Human Rights



Listen to the January 7 conference call about Umm al-Khayr:

More about Umm al-Khayr

Umm al-Khair is one of many Bedouin villages in the south of the West Bank that is at risk of home demolitions and forced relocation due to settlement expansion in Area C - in this case, the Israeli settlement called Karmel. Umm al-Khair was recently visited by a member of the US concilate amidst growing concerns for the well-being and human rights of its residents, but this faint diplomatic interest is not enough. We are inviting you to listen to the conference call recorded on Jan 16th, 2015 to learn from our speakers about the current status of Umm al-Khair and the lives of its residents. We will also have a follow-up call that includes congressional staffers.

The past few years were exceptionally hard for 125 registered refugees living in the community, who live on land to which they hold titles. Starting October 31st, 2008, Israeli forces demolished a number of residential buildings in the community due to proximity to the settlement.  Despite the efforts of lawyers, activists, international NGO’s and residents to stop it, the settlement continues to expand and take over the legally owned land that Bedouin farmers use to graze their sheep, which makes up nearly 70% of the economy of the village. Against the odds, residents are planting a thyme farm to earn enough money to pay for a kindergarten and assert their right to remain in land that they have legal title to. In addition to many homes being demolished, bulldozers now target the traditional taboun oven, which bakes the much needed bread for village residents.  Demolitions continued in 2010, 2011, and 2013, and most recently three demolitions on October 27th and 28, 2014. Sadly, these demolitions were followed by the confiscation of tents donated by the International Committee of the Red Cross and Ministry of Local Governments on November 1, 2014, despite their being the only shelters left for displaced residents. Help bring an end to the madness.  Help bring a voice to the people of Umm Al Khair.