|Know your rights in Bethlehem|
The lack of legal knowledge and access to legal assistance remains one of the major impediments to communities’ welfare, development, and struggle against the occupation. The Society of St. Yves, as part of its outreach initiatives, organized the second Human Rights Bazaar, titled Know Your Rights, on Thursday May 10th in Bethlehem. St. Yves invited organizations in covering the most critical issues for the affected populations living in Area C of the West Bank—mainly, demolitions and stop work orders, protecting water infrastructure from demolitions, permits for mobility, land registration and confiscation, as well as internal family reunification.
The event began with opening remarks from Raffoul Rofa, the director of the organization, stating: “St. Yves strives to promote sustainable change for Palestinians by providing legal services, influencing policy and decision makers, while supporting the legal avenue for peaceful resistance. We realize the importance of raising knowlege pertaining to legal proceedings imposed on others by the occupation through military orders that are issued against buildings or land owned by Palestinian citizens.“ The opening was followed by four lectures given by the St. Yves lawyers, as well as two walk-in rooms for individual consulations. One aim of the event was also to make office and staff of the Bethlehem branch of St. Yves familiar and accessible to those needing help and who cannot travel to the Jerusalem offices.
The event was a success, resulting in a large turnout and participation from Palestinians living in the Southern West Bank. Many came notably from Wadi Foken, Hebron and the South Hebron hills. St. Yves was able to reach potential beneficiaries in areas outside of their habitual work; many came to inform themselves of general legal proceedings and to check up on their cases, while at least 10 new beneficiaries were able to speak to our lawyers and open case files. The event was also attended by St. Yves partners in Human Rights work, mainly EAPPI, NRC, Baby Caritas Hospital Bethlehem and CRS. Father Ibrahim Shomali from Beit Jala was also present. He has been one of the most vocal critics of the construction of the wall that will cut through the Cremisan private lands and hosts weekly outdor masses as a form of peaceful protest on Fridays.
The Society of St. Yves wishes to thank all participants, in the hope that such events with partner organizations will help raise awareness but also show a united front of organizations willing and able to help the most affected communities living in Area C of the West Bank.