Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

The National Society for Democracy and Law (NSDL) organized a Session entitled “Post-war 2014 Legal Repercussions of Begging Phenomenon Spreading”, within the activities of “Emergency Legal Assistance to the Affected People in Rafah Due to the 2014 War on Gaza Project”, supported by UNDP/PAPP, which provides legal aids to the vulnerable and the affected groups due to Gaza war 2014, by UNDP/PAPP.

Dr. Ibrahim Muammar, chairman, captain Hanadi Hassan, feminist police chief in Rafah, Mr. Tamer Al-Qadi, the representative of PBA, Mr. Ghassan Abu-Hatab, the Director of Center for Development Studies – Beirzeit University, lawyers, journalists and NGOs’ representatives participated in the workshop.

The lawyer Belal El-Najjar opened the workshop welcoming the guests and the attendance, and talked about the project and its importance, specially for Rafah. Then Dr. Muammar talked about Legal Aid Clinic No.9 and its achievements in providing legal aids to the vulnerable and affected groups since it establishment in 2011. Then he talked about the significant spreading begging phenomenon in Rafah, especially after 2014 war.

From his part, Mr. Abu-Hatab talked about begging issue, which researchers did not identify as a new issue or a phenomenon yet, and there are no any studies or statistics by Palestinian Central Bureau if Statistics (PCBS) for this issue. Then, he identified begging issue as beseeching and practicing, either it is continuous or sporadic. The aim of begging is to gain money due to the aggravating economic, political and social conditions, where about 80% of the Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip live with food aids. After that, Mr. Abu-Hatab talked about the different types of begging include the public begging, the masked begging and the hidden begging, and the main reasons behind begging include the increase of poverty, parents’ lack of education, health conditions some families suffer from, especially if there is a physically handicapped member in. At the end of his speech, he indicated to the effects of begging, which lead to crimes and the beginning of the moral corruption, especially children and women.

From his part, Mr. Al-Qadi identified begging as a social issue, talked about law intervenes to solve, considered it as an incident, not a phenomenon. Then, he indicated that may be begging is the reason behind poverty, and law dealt with this problem under the title “the illegal gaining” in the Palestinian Penal Code no. (74) in 1963 AD, article (193), where this article mentioned the penalty of begging; jailing for 1 month in the first time, in case the beggar begged again, he/she will be jailed for 1 year, yet this penalty is not effective in courts until now.

Mrs. Hassan talked about begging issue, especially among women, as they are emotional and effective on the society. She mentioned that police launched a number of campaigns aim to decrease bagging issue. Then she stated that this issue may be organized or by one person. After that, she indicated that most beggars consider begging as an profession to gain money. Within 2014, a number of women have been arrested, they entered houses under the mask of begging, but they aimed to get information to the Israeli intelligence, in addition to sex and moral crimes that begins with begging. At the end of her speech, she stated that beggars do not beg in the areas they live in, but in areas they are unknown in.

At the end of the workshop, discussion opened. Mrs. Laila Al-Mudalal, the director of South Women Media Forum, talked about child begging issue in Rafah, especially in parking garages, indicating that begging is a seasonal profession.

Mrs. Lamia’a Abu-Harb, the director of Hawa for Future Association, talked that begging issue still increasing in the Palestinian society, and it is a must to decrease it psychologically, socially, economically and legally.

The raised recommendations are as follows:

  • Working on establishing a social security fund to aid poor families.
  • Launching a media campaign to raise the awareness of the people about the seriousness of this issue.
  • Making legal articles related to bagging issue effective in courts.
  • Working on stop begging by informing mosques to prevent beggars from begging in, upon orders by Ministry of Islamic Awqaf.
  • Working on coordination among all ministries and organizations in order to decrease this issue before increasing to be a phenomenon.

At the end of the meeting, the society thanked the attendance and their concern to aware people and their promotion to rule of law in order to achieve justice.