Mission, Strategic Litigation, International Advocacy

Mission | Strategic Litigation | International Advocacy

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Adalah (“Justice” in Arabic) is an independent human rights organization and legal center. It was founded in November 1996 as a joint project of two leading Arab NGOs - The Galilee Society and the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), and it became an independent NGO in 1997.


CLICK HERE to view a slideshow of Highlights of Adalah's work in 2022

CLICK HERE to visit a timeline illustrating Adalah’s first 20 years


Adalah’s mission is to promote human rights in Israel in general and the rights of the Palestinian minority, citizens of Israel, in particular (around 1.5 million people, or 20% of the population). This work also includes promoting and defending the human rights of all individuals subject to the jurisdiction of the State of Israel (e.g. Palestinian residents of the OPT). Adalah is the first Palestinian Arab-run legal center in Israel, and the sole Palestinian organization that works before Israeli courts to protect the human rights of Palestinians in Israel and in the OPT.


 Since its establishment, Adalah has brought about 250 impact litigation cases before the Israeli Supreme Court and the lower courts, which have spanned diverse fields including land and planning rights, civil and political rights, and economic and social rights. Numerous cases have resulted in landmark, precedent-setting decisions. In order to achieve its goals, Adalah:


  • Brings impact litigation and other legal interventions before Israeli courts and state authorities;
  • Provides legal consultation to individuals, NGOs, and institutions;
  • Appeals to international institutions and fora;
  • Organizes conferences, and publishes reports and analyses of critical legal issues;
  • Conducts extensive media and social media outreach in Arabic, Hebrew and English;
  • Trains legal apprentices and new lawyers in human rights litigation and advocacy.

Strategic Litigation

Adalah's flagship cases include:
Discriminatory admissions committees: A SCT decision from 2011 ordering the community town of Rakefet to award a married Arab couple, the Zubeidats, a plot of land to build a house on, after the town’s ‘admissions committee’ initially rejected the two architects as “socially unsuitable”. A later petition to the SCT challenging the Admissions Committees’ Law was rejected in a 5 to 4 decision delivered in 2014. 
Defending the unrecognized village Bedouin of Al-Sira from demolition: A precedent-setting Magistrate’s Court decision from 2011 to cancel 51 demolition orders issued against homes in the village, located on the Nasasra tribe’s ancestral land. The Be’er Sheva District Court rejected the state’s subsequent appeal in 2014, allowing the people (pop: 500) to remain on their land. 
The attempted evacuation of Atir-Umm el-Hiran: Adalah has represented the 1,000 Bedouin residents of the twin unrecognized villages of Atir-Umm al-Hiran against the state’s repeated attempts to expel them for more than 10 years. A motion for a second hearing is currently pending before the Supreme Court to prevent the demolition and evacuation of the village so that the state might build the Jewish town of “Hiran”. 
The Prawer Plan for forced displacement: In 2012-13, Adalah waged a major public advocacy and legal campaign against the government’s proposed Prawer Plan, which aims to forcibly displace tens of thousands of Bedouin citizens of Israel from their land in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab. As a result of our work with the community and NGO partners, the plan was shelved in 2013 and currently remains frozen. 
Knesset election disqualifications: In the run-up to the Knesset elections over the last 15 years, Adalah represented Arab MKs and parties against disqualification motions before the Central Elections Committee and/or the SCT. So far, the disqualifications have been overturned by the SCT and the Arab minority has been able to exercise its right to political participation. 
Ban on family unification: Adalah challenged the law banning family unification between Palestinian citizens of Israel and their Palestinian spouses from the OPT in the SCT in 2003 and 2012. The court narrowly rejected both petitions in two controversial 6-5 split decisions. In his 2012 decision, Chief Justice Asher Grunis stated, “human rights should not be a recipe for national suicide,” revealing the law’s true demographic motives.
Seeking accountability for the October 2000 killings: Adalah worked before the Official ‘Or’ Commission of Inquiry, representing the families of the 13 young unarmed Palestinian citizens of Israel shot dead by police during mass protest demonstrations in October 2000. Although the Commission recommended criminal investigations into the killings and issued a number of disciplinary actions against police commanders, in 2008 the AG decided not to issue any indictments. In the face of a wall of impunity, Adalah continues to seek justice for the victims and their families, and for other Arab citizens who have fallen victim to police brutality.
‘National Priority Areas’: A landmark SCT judgment delivered in 2006 cancelling a long-standing, discriminatory socio-economic plan according to which the government divided the country into ‘National Priority Areas’ (NPAs) for purposes of allocating massive financial resources. The 553 towns and villages originally awarded the NPA ‘A’ status included only four small Arab villages.
Opening the first high school for Bedouin students in Abu Tulul: In 2012, the Education Ministry opened a high school for Arab Bedouin students in Abu Tulul–El-Shihabi in the Naqab (pop: 12,000) based on a settlement between the ministry and Adalah, following Adalah’s petitions to the SCT. The school is the first high school in any of the formerly unrecognized Bedouin villages.
‘Mother and Child’ clinics in the unrecognized villages: In 2000, the Health Ministry opened six ‘mother and child’ health clinics in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Naqab, in response to a SCT petition filed by Adalah in 1997. These clinics provide preventive health services and post-natal care to thousands of people. The former lack of any clinics in these villages was due to their unrecognized status, despite the fact that infant mortality rates among the Bedouin are the highest in the country. 
Safe drinking water for the Bedouin in the Naqab: In 2011, in response to Adalah’s appeal, the SCT enshrined the right to water as a constitutional right of all citizens, whatever the status of their community. The SCT also ruled that Bedouin in the unrecognized villages had the right to ‘minimal access to water’. The appeal challenged Israel’s policy of not connecting the unrecognized villages to the water network. 
Arabic road signs and signage in the mixed cities: Thousands of signs have been posted in Arabic on Israel’s highways as a result of a SCT case submitted by Adalah in 1997. In 2002, the SCT then delivered a major judgment ordering mixed cities to use Arabic on public signs based on another Adalah petition. As a result, many signs including Arabic were put up and the situation for Arabic-speakers living in the mixed cities improved.
Access to lawyers for hunger-strikers: In 2004, in response to Adalah’s petition, the SCT ruled, for the first time, that the right of prisoners and detainees to meet with their lawyers was absolutely guaranteed, including for hunger-strikers. The ruling has provided a legal basis for demands for prisoners and detainees to be given access to their lawyers during subsequent hunger strikes in 2012-2015.
The army’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields: In 2005, the SCT issued a landmark ruling banning the Israeli army’s use of Palestinian civilians as ‘human shields’ in military operations. The decision was delivered in response to a petition brought by Adalah together with all of the leading HR organizations in 2002 amid Israel’s massive military invasion of the West Bank, named ‘Operation Defensive Shield’ by Israel.
Compensation and access to the Israeli courts: In 2006, the SCT unanimously decided in response to Adalah’s petition that Israel cannot exempt itself by law from paying compensation to Palestinians in the OPT injured and harmed by the Israeli military, following an amendment to the Civil Wrongs Law to that effect. In the aftermath of this legal victory, however, Israel continues to avoid liability for compensation for abuses committed by its security forces in the OPT.
For more information on Adalah’s flagship litigation, see “Adalah: The First Fifteen Years” and Adalah’s 20th anniversary timeline.


International Advocacy Achievements


March 1998 – First report to UN human rights treaty body, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), entitled "Legal Violations of Arab Minority Rights in Israel." This 128-page report identifies and discusses 20 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and critiques Israel's report to the CERD. The Committee incorporated many of Adalah's concerns into its Concluding Observations.

* Since this time and through the present, Adalah has submitted dozens of NGO reports and participated in almost all of the UN human rights treaty body sessions in their review of Israel including: the Human Rights Committee (which monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Committee Against Torture (CAT), among others.


August-September 2001 – UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance - Durban, South Africa. An Adalah delegation participated in this event, and submitted a report on Institutionalized Discrimination against Palestinian Citizens of Israel. Adalah’s General Director, Hassan Jabareen wrote an article reflecting on the events: Hassan Jabareen, "On the Problems of Arab Identity: The example of Durban," Al Hayat, 4 October 2001 (translated to English), here.


2002 – Emergency Agenda declared in Adalah at the start of Israeli military attacks on the West Bank named “Operative Defensive Shield”. Adalah submitted a report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Commission about Supreme Court petitions that we filed while the military attacks were underway, the state’s responses, and the court’s decision. Adalah worked with local and international human rights organizations to document and publicize the events, in real time.


2005 – Adalah received UN ECOSOC status


2008 – South Africa: Human Sciences Research Council – Adalah together with Al Haq and lawyers/academics from Ireland, UK and South Africa, participated in drafting a legal study, which later became a book, edited by Virginia Tilley, “Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” (2012). This study built on issues raised by the UN Special Rapporteur for the OPT, Prof. John Dugard.

2008 – South Africa solidarity and study tours. Adalah participated in delegation headed by the Chairman of the Arab High Follow-up Committee with representatives of the October 2000 victims' families to South Africa to seek international support for the group's demand for truth, justice and accountability for the October 2000 families. The delegation learned about transitional justice mechanisms and processes of memorialization pursued in SA. The Foundation for Human Rights and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) hosted the visit


2009 – Adalah submitted reports for the UN Commission of Inquiry into Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009) following the Israeli military’s attacks on Gaza. Adalah also followed-up with the process by participating in processes convened by the Independent Experts’ Committee, which was monitoring (the lack) of domestic investigations into the killings and injury to civilians and the extensive destructive of civilian property during the War.


2011 – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) and Adalah published a report entitled,The EU and the Arab Minority in Israel, the first of its kind. The human rights organizations presented the report in Brussels and to EU member states at permanent representations and in Israel.  


2013 – Adalah engaged in extensive international advocacy to stop the Prawer Plan. Legislation, which was  frozen by the Israeli government in December 2013. Extensive home demolitions throughout the Naqab by the Israeli authorities continue, with the ultimate goal of evacuating Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel from the unrecognized villages, and to move them to government-planned, concentrated, segregated towns.


2013 – Adalah begins extensive US program. Adalah works with Arab/Palestinian-American and Jewish-American organizations; civil rights organizations; and community groups to raise awareness in the US about violations of the human rights of Palestinians. Adalah is credited as a contributor organization working on policy in the Movement for Black Lives Platform (2016).


2015 – Adalah submitted a report to the UN Commission of Inquiry into the Gaza Conflict 2014 concerning the Israeli military’s attacks in Gaza which resulted in the widespread killing and injury of Palestinian civilians. Adalah continues to follow-up with the process demanding independent investigations and accountability for violations both before the Israeli Military Advocate and the Attorney General, and UN human rights bodies.


2016 – Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights Israel and Al Mezan submitted a joint report and participated in the UN Committee Against Torture, in its review of Israel. The CAT Committee issued 50+ concluding observations, raising grave concerns about practices of torture/ill-treatment against Palestinians by Israel. The CAT Committee raised numerous concerns that were emphasized by the partners in our report. 

See Why International Advocacy? and International Advocacy Outreach by Year




1999 - Adalah published Adalah’s Review. Volume 1 – Politics, Identity and Law (Fall 1999) - The first volume of Adalah’s Review aims to open a multi-disciplinary, multi-layered discussion about politics, law and identity, with most authors addressing the politics of Arab Palestinian identity in the Israeli legal area.

Subsequent volumes include:
* Adalah’s Review Volume 2 – Land (Fall 2000) – This volume focuses on the issue of land, which is the main subject responsible for the existing tensions between the state and the indigenous Palestinian community. It also features a special discussion of the Supreme Court’s judgment of March 2000 in Qa’dan, concerning the right of an Arab family to live in a Jewish town in Israel.
* Adalah’s Review, Volume 3 – Law and Violence (Summer 2002) – This volume tries to offer an understanding of the ways in which law exists in relationship to violence. Its point of departure was the October 2000 protest demonstrations, which it resituates in the longer history of state violence against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
* Adalah’s Review Volume 4 – In the Name of Security (Spring 2004) – This volume presents articles from lawyers, academics and human rights activists who offer interdisciplinary discussions of the concepts and workings of law and security in Israel.

* Adalah’s Review, Volume 5 – On Criminalization (Spring 2009) – Volume 5 focuses on the ways in which forms of political activity and resistance are criminalized by the State of Israel, on pretexts of “security offenses” or “terror”.


2003 – Publishes October 2000 – Law and Politics before the Or Commission (October 2003) – This report presents the principal issues raised by Adalah in the concluding arguments that it presented to the Or Commission. It discusses the main causes of the October 2000 protests, and the establishment of the Commission, its mandate, its proceedings, and warnings it issued. Subsequent reports regarding October 2000 include:
* The Accused – Part I (October 2006) – This report reveals the failure of the Police Investigations Department (Mahash) to investigate the October 2000 killings, demonstrating how Mahash concealed essential facts from the public and issued a falsified report, and illuminating the masked and undeclared “collaboration” between Mahash investigators and some of the police officers under investigation.
* The Accused – Part II (January 2011) – The Accused – Part II continues on fromThe Accused – Part I by investigating the decision of former Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to close all of the files into the October 2000 events with no indictments submitted against any police officer, commander or political leader.


2006 – Adalah publishes first volume of MAKAN, Volume 1 – The Right to the City (Spring 2006): Volume 1 of Makan consists of three theoretical articles by Yosef Jabareen, Haim Yacobi and Tovi Fenster on the theme of “The Right to the City”, as applied to the Palestinian minority and women in Israel; short articles describing instances of “Segregated Spaces” using case studies from Adalah and other human rights organizations; and excerpts from Adalah’s case against the Jewish National Fund. Subsequent volumes include:
* Makan Volume 2 – The Right to a Spatial Narrative (Winter 2010) – The second volume of Makan explores the concept of the right to a spatial narrative, presenting three academic articles on aspects of the policies and spatial practices of Israel by Ilan Pappe, Mahmoud Yazbak and Ravit Goldhaber, and excerpts from Adalah’s objection to the regional plan for the Be’er Sheva metropolitan area.


2007 – The Democratic Constitution – Adalah launched a draft “Democratic Constitution” on the 10th Anniversary of its establishment, in response to numerous constitutional proposals being discussed in the Israeli Knesset. The Democratic Constitution calls for a democratic, bilingual and multi-cultural state. Adalah modeled the Democratic Constitution on constitutions adopted by democratic countries, and international human rights conventions and universal principles of human rights contained in UN declarations. The document contains 63 articles, which set forth provisions on citizenship, official languages, model mechanisms for the participation of the Arab minority in decision-making in the Knesset, as well as rights and freedoms for all residents and citizens including equality and anti-discrimination, distributive and restorative justice, particularly concerning land and property, social and economic rights, and rights in court and criminal justice.


2009 – Prohibited Protest – This report exposes the ways in which the Israeli law enforcement agencies responded to anti-war protests by Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel during Israel’s “Cast Lead” military invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009. It shows how the police, the State Prosecutor’s Office, the GSS and the courts made arrest and lengthy detention the easiest and fastest method of suppressing the protest against the military operations.

2010/2011 – Targeted Citizen & The Inequality Report (March 2011) – The Inequality Report sets out some of the legal and political structures that allow for systematic discrimination against members of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, and fuel inequality between Arab and Jewish citizens of the state.  Targeted Citizen is a short film produced by Adalah on discrimination against Arab citizens in Israel, with a soundtrack by Palestinian rap group DAM. It was directed and written by Rachel Leah Jones. Targeted Citizen was released in tandem with the Inequality Report, as part of Adalah’s  “Inequality Series”.


2011 – Nomads Against Their Will – This report details the state’s plans to displace and dispossess members of the Abu al-Qi’an tribe, residents of the Arab Bedouin “unrecognized village” of Atir–Umm al-Hiran, for whom expulsion has been an integral part of life since 1948. Members of the tribe were first expelled by the Israeli military government from their original land in “Khirbet Zubaleh”, which they had cultivated for centuries. + Film


2012 – On Torture (June 2012) – On Torture is an edited journal of essays by Palestinian, Israeli and international legal and medical experts and practitioners. It is based on presentations given during an international experts’ workshop convened by Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Al Mezan and held in Jerusalem.


2013 – Launch of Adalah’s Discriminatory Laws Database


2013 – Launch of the photography exhibition and booklet, "Families Interrupted"  The exhibition aimed to raise awareness about the Israeli Citizenship Law that bans the unification of tens of thousands of Palestinian families from either side of the Green Line, and to increase pressure on the Israeli government to cancel the law. The photographs were taken by and the exhibition was produced by Jenny Nyman for Adalah


2016 – Adalah & the Center for Palestine Studies launches a web-blog, “The Nakba Files"  The Nakba Files is a part of a project on "The Nakba and Law", which explores and thinks through the Nakba as an event, a structure, and a process through a critical lens on the law. 


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Praise for Adalah


Retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia: “A significant number of the decisions in principle handed down by the High Court of Justice on human rights issues were delivered on petitions submitted by Adalah. Adalah, under the leadership of Attorney [Hassan] Jabareen, excels in its commitment, determination, and professionalism. It is an organization that works to advance human rights through legal, and not extra-legal, means, with outstanding intellectual ability, strong moral commitment, and an expansive vision of Israeli society in all its diversity. These qualities have given Adalah its unique place in the human rights landscape in Israel.”


Hadas Ziv, Director of Public Outreach, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel: “I have always been deeply impressed by their [Adalah’s] professional capacities as well as their profound moral and political commitment to human rights and equality.”


Aaron Back, former Director, Ford Social Justice Fund: “I often refer to Adalah as the jewel in the crown of the Palestinian Israeli NGOs working to advance equality for the Palestinian minority population.”


Issam Younis, Director, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights – Gaza: “Adalah’s commitment to the principles of justice, human rights and international law is unabated and impressive. Adalah is reputable for being a nonpartisan, independent human rights organization that we trust.”


Ahmed al-Fayoumi, Adalah’s client and a Bedouin citizen of Israel from Abu Tulul: “The opening of the high school in Abu Tulul [a recently recognized Bedouin village in the Naqab desert], which we achieved with Adalah’s help, has already helped hundreds of students to get an education. The case has especially helped girls, who couldn’t travel to the schools dozens of kilometers away. Although the Supreme Court ordered the school to be opened in 2009, the authorities dragged their feet and took three years to do so. Today, the school has been open for a year, but it still needs serious improvements, and we must continue to work together for better education in our schools.”


Fihmi Halabi, Adalah’s client and a resident of the northern village of Daliyat al-Carmel: “I am a member of a local organization that has fought for years against a master plan for the village that would have seen the demolition of over 600 homes, and against the confiscation of a large area of land in the neighboring area of Umm al-Shuqaf that we have farmed for generations. Adalah represented us before the planning authorities and the courts, and thanks to the case, most of the farming land has not been confiscated, and no home demolitions have been carried out in the village.”

(July 2017)