June 03, 2007

"Sderot Legal Aid Society" Formed

Regional News Service of Sderot and the Western Negev
12 Rakefet Street
Sderot, Israel
tel. 03 636 4017

Residents of Sderot and the Western Negev have formed a Sderot Legal Aid Society to hire a law firm to sue the government of Israel on behalf of their civil liberties and human rights.

This past week, the Sderot Parents Association successfully concluded six months of litigation in the Israeli High Court of Justice to force the government of Israel to protect all classrooms in Sderot, after the Israeli government would only provide protection for grades one, two and three.

The claim of the government was that children over the age of eight could run for cover during a missile attack.

The Sderot Parents Association hired a major law firm to prove otherwise.

As a result, the Israel High Court of Justice has issued a court order to the Israeli government to immediately protect all classrooms in Sderot

People in Sderot have now formed "The Sderot Legal Aid Society" to hire lawyers to sue the government of Israel over issues of civil liberties abuse, such as:

* Preparation of Shelters.

Why has the government not repaired 25 large public shelters in Sderot that have been rendered unfit for human habitation? The same unanswered question goes for many public shelters in the Kibbutzim of the Western Negev. Families in Sderot and the Western Negev will sue to demand that the Israeli government spend government funds to repair all shelters in Sderot and the Western Negev, and not wait for charities to allocate funds for this purpose. In Israel, shelter preparation remains an absolute matter of basic civil liberties and human

*Protected Rooms in public housing.

Why has the government delayed construction of protected rooms in public housing in Sderot and the Western Negev? These rooms provide immediate cover during a missile attack. A Member of Knesset, Shai Hermesh from PM Olmert's own Kadima party, a resident of the Western Negev, recently revealed that $75 million was allocated by the government for this purpose last January and never delivered. Now the government has issued press releases that it will install protected rooms at a rate of 200 homes a month out of the 2000 that need to be installed in Sderot. Residents of Sderot and the Western Negev must sue the government to install all of the protected rooms, immediately.

*Repair of Homes and Businesses.

By law, The Israel Tax Authority is supposed to expedite immediate aid to families whose homes and businesses have been damaged by hostile fire. However, the Regional News Service of Sderot and the Western Negev has revealed that it takes months for the Israel Tax Authority to do so, forcing people to live and work in their debris, instead of providing immediate repairs.

The claim of the Israel Tax Authority is that people can make repairs out of their own pocket and bring them the receipts.

However, working class people and small business owners do not have cash flow to pay for such repairs.

Banks are not willing to lend funds for such a purpose, even if the government will eventually pay for the repairs.

Families in Sderot and the Western Negev must therefore sue the Israel Tax Authority to act immediately to assess and repair damages in homes.

*Aid to victims.

A boy with cerebral palsy died last week of wounds sustained from the direct hit of a Gaza missile. The family is being denied aid under the Terror Victims Law, because they did not immediately fill out appropriate forms with the government at the time of the fatal attack. The family was at the child's hospital bed, as he was dying. The family must therefore sue the government for the aid that they have coming to them.

*Right to IDF Protection.

The Sderot Legal Aid Society will hire legal experts to examine the rights of residents of Sderot and the Western Negev to demand stronger military action to protect them.

Arabs continue to fire missiles from the roof tops of apartment buildings in Beit Hanoun, while the IDF continues to avoid firing at those missile launch sites on the roof tops, for fear of Arab civilian casualties.

The legal question remains: Can people of Sderot and the Western Negev sue the government to demand that the IDF remove those missile launchers, no matter what the cost in Arab civilian casualties.

*How people can help

Checks can be made out to the SDEROT LEGAL AID SOCIETY, POB 472, Sderot, Israel

Bank transfers can be sent to:

Union Bank of Israel, Ltd
Main Branch Jerusalem
Swift Code: Unbkilit 13-051
Acct. Number: 28142/45
Attn: Lawyer Trust Account of Jacob P. Golbert