Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thousands of Palestinian orphans protest Israeli army looting of their food

From Khalid Amayreh in Hebron

"Thousands of Palestinian orphans on Tuesday took to the streets in this southern West Bank town to protest recent raids by the Israeli occupation army of their orphanages and boarding schools.

Hundreds of Israeli troops, backed up by armored carriers, raided the Islamic Charitable Society in downtown Hebron earlier this week , vandalizing property and looting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of food materials, clothes, shoes and furniture donated by local and foreign donors for the benefit of the orphans.

The charitable society, the largest in Palestine, runs two orphanages and several boarding schools, which cater for as many as 7000 children who have lost either or both parents......

On 6 March, Israeli army troops stormed buildings containing food and clothes inventories, looting large amounts of frozen food, dairy products, clothes and shoes as well as refrigerators and kitchen appliances, local officials and eyewitnesses said. The looted material were to be used to feed and cloth the orphans.

Ahmed Farrah, a charity official, denied vehemently Israeli insinuations that the charity was run by Hamas. “We are a charitable society. We have nothing to do with politics. We have been functioning since 1964, before the Israeli occupation, and the Israeli army and intelligence services investigated us numerous times and they never found any evidence suggesting any illegal activities.

“So, the real reason for this hateful campaign is that they want to torment us and weaken the Palestinian society. I think it is an expression of hatred toward Islam and Muslims. Israel today spearheads an ugly war against our religion.”.....

The army confiscated property, including an orphanage, two schools, a supermarket and several multi-story buildings as well as four buses. The army brought in huge trucks for moving the looted materials, including computers, cabinets, chairs, kitchen appliances and teaching aids to a nearby army base.....

One local writer and poet accused the Palestinian Authority of Ramallah of “conniving and coordinating with Israel to close the orphanages and boarding schools.”

I have no doubt that (PA interior minister) Abdul Razzak al Yahya is behind all of this,” said the man who asked for anonymity. “They are acting like quislings for Israel. Otherwise why are they silent while 7000 orphans are being dumped onto the streets?”"

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