RAMALLAH, Tuesday, August 23, 2022 (WAFA) - Amid Israel’s escalating attacks targeting their work, a group of more than 150 Palestinian, regional, and international organizations expressed their full solidarity with the designated seven leading Palestinian civil society organizations, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man (Al-Haq), Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committees (HWC), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
On the morning of 18 August 2022, the Israeli occupying forces (IOF) raided and sealed the doorways into the offices of the seven Palestinian organizations. The IOF also confiscated documents and equipment and destroyed items in the offices. On the doors of the organizations, military orders were left behind ordering the closure of the offices under Article 319 of the Emergency Regulations of 1945. This development follows the 19 October 2021, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz designation of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist organizations under Israel’s Anti-Terrorism Law (2016), which was then extended to the West Bank on 3 November 2021 by a military order that outlawed the same organizations.
The signatories of the joint statement urged the international community to unequivocally condemn Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civil society and tactics to further repress of freedom of expression. “States must take all necessary action to support and protect Palestinian human rights defenders and ensure the continuation of their invaluable work.”
These raids and closures represent the latest escalation in Israel’s widespread campaign aiming to silence and discredit any Palestinian individual or organization that dares to seek accountability for Israel’s grave human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The “persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid” is a method used by Israel, amounting to acts of apartheid prosecutable under the Rome Statute, to maintain its domination and oppression over the Palestinian people, said the joint statement.
“The organizations remain at an additional risk of closure of bank accounts, travel bans and movement restrictions, and the arrest and detention of staff members for their work. Israel’s attacks against these organizations pose an existential threat to independent Palestinian human rights organizations and civil society who work to monitor and document violations of human rights and provide basic services to the Palestinian people,” added the statement.
The signatories called upon the international community to demand that Israel immediately revoke its designations of Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations,” reverse the military orders designating the organizations and closing their offices and repeal its Anti-Terrorism Law (2016) as it does not meet basic human rights standards.
Moreover, they called on the international community to take effective measures to end all other actions that deny Palestinians their inalienable human rights.
Lastly, the statement called on the members of the international community to continue their support and increase funding to the organizations and engage with financial institutions to ensure the transfer of funds to the organizations.