Friday, May 2, 2008

Israel Moves to Shut Down Charity Allegedly Linked to Hamas

USA Today has published an Associated Press article on Israel's decision to close all operations of the Islamic Charitable Association.  According to the article, Israel asserts that the Association is a front for the Islamic militant group Hamas.  The Association, which is the largest Islamic charity in Hebron, West Bank, denies any links to Hamas. 

The Israeli military took the first step to implement the closure decision this week when it closed a sewing workshop run by the Association, seizing both sewing machines and bolts of cloth.  The Association also operates a boarding school for 600 children, mostly with single parents, a number of day schools and nurseries that serve 6,400 more children, a bakery, a cattle farm, and apartments.  It's total assets are approximately $10 million, and it has a $635,000 per month operating budget.

A lawyer for the Association has appealed the closure order to the Israeli Supreme Court, but the Court has not yet set a hearing date.  Officials of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' government have also stated they are trying to block the closure.  American and Canadian volunteers from the pacifist group Christian Peacemaker Teams are sleeping in the boarding school dormitory in an attempt to deter the Israeli military from shutting that facility.


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