Palestine/Israel: Destruction of Palestinian women's organisations

Rose Shomali Musleh
Women’s organizations and charitable societies, like all Palestinian governmental and non-governmental institutions, have suffered considerable financial losses due to closure and curfew imposed by the Israeli army.
Several institutions are now threatened with the prospect of closing down due to lack of revenue, a fact that is reflected in their difficulty to pay salaries, rent and monthly expenses. Theft, destruction of equipment, furnishings and physical structure have added to their financial problems. The Women's Affairs Technical Committee (WATC) coordinators, and grassroots organizations have compiled a report that notes the physical damage done by the Israeli army to some of the Palestinian women’s institutions and welfare societies in the West Bank for the period 29 March 29 – 10 May 2002.

Since March 29, 2002, the Israeli Army has been waging against the Palestinian people and its institutions a systematic war that included bombardment and occupation of cities, villages, towns and camps, attacks on Governmental and Nongovernmental institutions, on medical facilities, demolition of houses, arresting thousands of people and executing massacres in Jenin and Old Nablus. The objective behind this military occupation is to destroy the infrastructure of the National Palestinian Authority, and to put an end to the dreams of the Palestinians in any future independent Palestinian State and the formation of a Palestinian national identity. The re-conquest of the NPA territories, the massacres committed in Jenin Camp and in the Old City of Nablus provide a clear message to the Palestinians, Arabs, and the International Community on the intentions of Israel: It is not peace they seek but sweeping away the Oslo accords, assassinating the Saudi Peace Plan, and the compliance of the Palestinians to his terms of the peace.

Women’s organizations and charitable societies, like all the Palestinian governmental and non-governmental institutions, have suffered a considerable financial loss due to closure and curfew imposed by the Israeli army.  Several institutions are now threatened to close down due to lack of revenues, a fact that is reflected in difficulties in payment of salaries, rents and monthly expenses.  Theft, destruction of equipment, furnishings and physical structure added to the financial loss of these institutions. It is worth mentioning that some of these institutions were used as residence for the Israeli army because of the space and the location. It is also noted that most of the institutions that were previously attacked, or used by the Israeli army during previous invasions, have been targeted in the last invasion. However, the most important effect was on children with special needs and their families who did not have an access to the services of these institutions.

The report is based mainly on site visits done by the WATC coordinators, and grassroots organizations representatives in the different areas of the West Bank, in addition to reports received either by phone or by fax from the institutions themselves, and checked with WATC coordinators. The report also builds up on the first preliminary report compiled by Dr. Rema Hammami ( Birzeit University), Dr. Sari Hanafi Shaml (Refugee and Diaspora Research Center), and Dr. Elizabeth Taylor. Due to the ongoing curfew and the closure imposed on many of the towns, cities and camps, it has been difficult for the field coordinators to collect information about all women’s institutions in some areas.

This report, will address only the physical damage done by the Israeli army to some of the Palestinian Women’s institutions, and the Welfare Societies in the West Bank that address women issues in their programmers. The report will cover the period March 29 – May 10, 2002.

Ramallah Institutions

The Palestinian Working Woman Society for Development

Location: Al-Zahra St.
Contact: Amal Khreishe
Tel:02-2981977/Fax: 02-2963288

This society aims at the empowerment of women through their participation in the social and developmental aspects of both public and private life in an attempt to build a civic society based on democracy and the respect of human being. The society advocates for anti-violence against women and provides assistance for abused women and children. It also offers leadership training, and promotes gender equality and civic education.

Vandalism: All office equipment were destroyed. A photocopier, 2 computers, a canon fax device, a scanner, a tape recorder, 2 telephone devices, an over-head projector and a loud speaker were deliberately damaged. Office furniture was broken and publications, posters and videotapes were damaged and thrown on the floor. Most of the kitchen equipment was broken. The Society car was hit by a tank and damaged while standing in front of the office.

Structural Damage: Windows were broken, and shutters were destroyed.

Theft: A video camera and NIS 2000 were found missing.

Al-Nahda Women’s Society

Contact: Badia’a Khalaf
Location: Jaffa St.
Tel: 2957176

This society provides services for children with special needs: children who suffer from speech order, and mental disability.The society also provides training for women and has a toy production workshop.

The society was occupied for 3 days (April 7 –10) and its facilities were used by the Israelis.

Vandalism: The office was all in a mess; furniture and inside closets were destroyed, and children’s files and  work were strewn all over the floor.

Structural Damage: Part of the main wall was demolished, the main metal gate and the Internal doors were broken in addition to windows of three rooms.

Palestinian Federation of Women’s Action Committees

Contact: Siham Barghouthi
telefax: 02-2961563/2986497

The society aims at advocating women’s social rights, and enhancing the role of women in the Palestinian national struggle for freedom and independence, and for equal opportunities for men and women. The main activities of the society include adult education, developing skills and training of women on leadership skills and promoting participation in trade unions, and other political organizations.

Structural Damage: Three windows were broken in the main office.

General Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees

Contact: Maha Nassar
Telefax: 02-2954326

The Union aims at promoting women’s empowerment, and involvement in the National struggle for liberation and building the State. The Union has branches in all directorates, that provide services to women and children. Ramallah branch has a nursery in Ramallah that provides services for children in the age group 2 months – 4 years. The Al –Zuhour Nursery was subject to assault.

Structural Damage: The main door and seven windows were broken.

Vandalism: Children’s beds were broken and toys were destroyed and strewn all over the floor. The pictures were ripped off the walls and scattered all over the rooms.

Bethlehem District InstitutionsThe General Union of Palestinian Woman/Bethlehem Branch
Address: Al-Madbasa
Contact: Ms Lydia Al-Araj
Telefax: 02- 274507- 02- 2767371

The Bethlehem branch of the GUPW is promoting gender awareness campaigns on issues related to woman’s rights, early marriage, and early pregnancy. Training on skills needed for income generating projects is being provided. Support to martyrs’ families and to the wounded is of great concern to the Union. Bethlehem branch is coordinating with the Ministry of Education Directorate/ Bethlehem District to provide financial support to vulnerable children whose families have been affected by the economic recession caused by the continuous closure on the Directorate.

The premises of the General Union of Bethlehem Branch have been targeted by the Israeli army several times during the consecutive invasions to Bethlehem area. The Union’s center was shelled twice in the first invasion. In the second invasion, the windows were broken because of shooting. During the last invasion, Rana Sa’di Al-Karja, a lawyer and a member of the Woman’s Union/ Bethlehem Branch was killed when the building where she resides was attacked. Her head was smashed and her six-month baby was heavily wounded.

Association of Women’s Committees for Social Work/Bethlehem Branch

Contact: Khawla Al-Azrak
Al-Jrashi Building – Al-Madbasah
Telefax: 02-2740729

The association of Women’s Committees/Bethlehem Branch was established in 1982 to empower women through services that help them take an important role in their community. The association has a comprehensive programme that address the needs of women in the different areas of Bethlehem district This includes training, awareness campaign on gender issues, democracy and role of women. The association extends its campaigns to all schools (female and male) to reach them with messages related to risks of early marriage, and the right of education for all. Family counseling is being provided through the Guidance and Counseling Center located in Bethlehem.  Services of this center has been extended to the teachers of the eight KGs run by the Association, and to the families of 300 children enrolled in these KGs. The Association also provides cultural services for children through the two centers in Beit-Sahour and in Aida Camp.

The Association’s office, being located in an area that was exposed to shelling, was hit. The windows facing the shelling were smashed, and the moquette covering the floor was completely destroyed.

Women and Child Care Society/ Beit Jala

Contact: Ms Lydia Al-Araj
Telefax: 02-2742507
Mar Nequla church St

The society was established in 1944 to provide services in health education and health Care for children and women. The society extended its services to include training of teachers on Health Education, a nursery and a Kg for working mothers, a housing project, in addition to vocational training in embroidery and clothes making.

Structural Damage:The windows of the housing buildings were affected by the shelling, which resulted in breaking of windows. The walls of the buildings were also hit, and some furniture was destroyed.

Hebron Institutions
Union of Women’s Committees for Social Work/Hebron
Mariam Hudeib
Al-Manara Square: 4th floor
Tel: 02-2250537

This association aims at raising the socio cultural and status of the Palestinian woman and promotes active participation in the political life and labour market. The association has 11 licensed KGs in Hebron district in addition to one KG in the Old City of Hebron.

Due to the curfew on the Old City of Hebron, the KG could not be reached until this date.

Structural Damage: Being opposite to Tal-Rmideh, an area that is usually exposed to shelling, the Union’s Office was hit. Eight water tanks were destroyed, and the office is still suffering from absence of water. One of the office windows was smashed by a bullet.

Internal Damage: A fax was hit by shrapnel caused by the shelling on the office.

Nablus Institutions

Women’s Union Society
Contact: O’hud Kanadilo
Old Al-Najah Str
Tel 09-2371524

This society provides services to children in extremely difficult circumstances. This includes an orphanage that provides shelter & care to 60 female children,  in the age group 6-16, and a center for visually impaired girls that provide services to 16 blind girls in the age group 15-25. The Society also runs a hospital with 100 beds, and has recently established Al-Hajja Andalib Al-Amad Nursing College to provide professional nursing training for 40 female and male students.

Due to the siege imposed for several days by the Israeli army, food and other basic materials were difficult to provide for the orphanage and for the hospital.

Medical equipment, medicine and blood donation was not allowed to reach the hospital that had at the time 24 critical cases.

Charitable Cultural Social Society
Contact: Jihan Al-Sa’adi Ghannam
Address: Al-shweida St.
Telefax: 09-2385429

This society is one of the oldest societies in the West Bank. It was established as a Cultural Center in 1945, and became a Cultural and Social Society in 1994. The Society has 16 working staff, and its services reach children and women in Nablus City, its villages and camps. In addition to cultural activities, the society provides social activities, charitable services, and day care services through its nursery.

The office of the society was hit by the shelling that targeted the city of Nablus.

Structural Damage: The office windows were broken and the internal walls of the center were exposed to shelling.

The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees/Nablus

Contact: Miassar Al-Fakih
Samra; University St.
telefax: 09-2338216

The union was established in 1980 to provide social services to women and children in Nablus area. Activities cover vocational training for women, health and cultural awareness campaigns, in addition to summer camps and remedial education for children.

The area surrounding the center of the Union was exposed to shelling by the Apache missiles. The freezer was hit, and, all the preserved food was destroyed.
Structural Damage: 8 windows were broken, and the telephone network was destroyed.

Palestinan Woman’s Club
Daad Saad Al-deen Al-Alami
telefax: 09-337403

The institution was established in 1997, to provide services for children and women. Its main services are Counseling and Training on First Aid for Women, and Remedial Education in English, in addition to supporting a Dabka Group for Children

The Center was occupied during the curfew. The gate and the main door were broken.

Tulkarem District Institutions

Rawdat Abna’ Al-Ghad

Contact:  Fawziyyeh Yahya Aboud
Nablus St. next to the GUPW

This Kindergarten is run by the Union of the Palestinian Women’s Committees and provides services to 70 children served by six teachers.

Structural Damage: The main door was destroyed.

Vandalism: All of the children's toys were thrown on the ground and many smashed. The wall-to-wall carpeting has been ripped and in some places removed, the small puppet theater was destroyed.

General Union of Palestinian Women Tulkarim
Contact: Afaf Al-Kubbag
Tel:09-2673468 ; 09-2677999
The Tulkarim branch of the GUPW is promoting empowerment of women through participation in organizations and unions. The Union/ Tulkarem Branch is involved in community awareness campaigns on issues related to gender and woman’s rights. It is also engaged in promoting and marketing embroidery and other traditional handicrafts produced by women in the rural areas.

Structural Damage:The main door was blown open with explosives which caused a lot of damage to equipment and furniture. Also the windows were broken.

Internal destruction:

Vandalism: All drawers were apparently searched and all files were opened and destroyed. The photocopying machine was damaged and the contents of the embroidery exhibition were ruined, and all the embroidery had been strewn all over the floor and stepped on. Some of the token shields honoring martyrs were destroyed, and the kitchen closets were searched and broken.

The Anabta Women’s Charitable Organization

Contact: Itaf Al-Qabbaji
tel 09-2673468; 09-2677999

This charitable organization was established in 1963 to provide services to women and the elderly especially in poor families. The association has a staff of 11 and offers health services and social and cultural activities for women It also provides relief services for the poor and an outreach services for 40 elders, in addition to operating a preschool for 240 children. The building where the Society Office is located was attacked on April 3, 2002 when Anabta town was occupied, and a curfew was imposed for 10 days. This was not the first time the building was attacked by the Israeli army. Two months earlier, Anabta was occupied, and clashes took place in the surrounding of the organization office where 4 Palestinian Policemen were killed. The damage caused by the first invasion was repaired; however, the second invasion caused new damage to the building. The information in this report covers only the damage caused during the second invasion.

Structural Damage: The outside wall was blown up with explosives, which in turn caused damage to the building. The gate had several bullets or shrapnel holes in it, and the windows broke down. The playground wall was partially destroyed, and the ceiling of the children’s interior playground.

Child Care Society
Contact: Suhad Shahin
Shweukah, Al-gharbi St.
Tel. 09-2673356/0706
Fax: 09-2673172

The society runs a KG, a library and has 2 swimming pools and a playground. The society, making use of its facilities, provides activities for children in summer such as story telling, swimming, and out-door activities.

External DestructionThe Israeli army destroyed the plants in the garden, and the out-door play equipment.

Dar Al-Yatim Society
Husnieh Dabdoub
This society provides shelter and care for orphan children. It has 2 sections: one for boys and one for girls.

Sructural Damage: The playground and the outer wall were damaged.

Bala’a Charitable Society

Contact: Ms Naheea Hamdan
Tel: 09-2677161

This society was established in 1966 to provide services for children and women. The society runs a KG that provides day care services for 100 children. In addition, the society reaches 120 women through training workshops on agriculture, cultural issues, and dressmaking. The society occupies the first floor in the same building where Fateh’s office is located in the second floor. The shelling of Fateh’s office affected the Society office badly.

Structural Damage The ceiling of the main hall was destroyed, windows were broken, and the door was damaged. The KG playground was left without a cover, and outdoor play equipment was damaged.

Qalkilia Institutions

Al-Amal Association for the Deaf
Contact: Muhammad Nazzal
Abu Obeida St.
Tel: 09-29422602
Fax: 09-2945952

The association aims at integrating the deaf into their community through teaching them to read and write, providing them with computer skills, and through empowering them and preparing them to be active participants in society. Vocational training Center was established for children in the age group 15 –18, in addition to a Guidance and Counseling center to help families deal with their children and communicate with them through Signal Language. A boarding section was established for children who can’t commute on a daily basis. The association is a member of the Arab Association for the Deaf, and it provides its services to 300 deaf and their families in the Qalkilia area.

Vandalism: Most of the office equipment were destroyed; a photocopier, a fax device, 3 computers, a printer, an overhead projector, video camera, All drawers were apparently searched and all files were opened.

Structural Damage: Windows were broken. The main gate, 2 entry doors   and the internal wooden doors for six classrooms were broken.

Al-Murabitat Society
Rukayyahh Naazzal
Tel: 09-2940074; 09-2940283

This society is one of the first societies established in North of the West Bank. The society serves 46 border children and 10 day students that are hearing impaired, in addition to counseling services for hearing impaired children through its clinic. The society extends its programme to women through training on clothes making, tricot, and hairdressing. The society also provides day care services through its KG and nursery.

The most important problem faced by the society is related to the curfew and siege imposed on Kalkilia district that prohibited children from receiving the diagnosis and the treatment needed.

Jenin Institutions

Association of Women’s Committees for Social Work/Jenin
Abu Baker St., Abu Yaish Building
Tel: 059-711328

The association aims at improving women’s economic, social and cultural situation of women especially in rural areas. The association offers services that include 9 KGs and 2 nurseries and children’s centers distributed al over Jenin Governate.

Vandalism: The office of the association in Jenin was occupied and the following equipment was damaged: a computer, a printer, a camera, a TV and a video set. In addition, an office desk and office chairs were broken. All drawers were searched and all files were destroyed.