Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory: ongoing smear campaign against Al-Haq staff members Mr. Shawan Jabarin and Ms. Nada Kiswanson

Urgent Appeal
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ISR 002 / 1117 / OBS 112
Smear campaign / Harassment /
Hindrance to the right to freedom of association
Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory
November 10, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing smear campaign against Mr. Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq’s General Director and FIDH Secretary General, and Ms. Nada Kiswanson, a human rights lawyer who represents Al-Haq in Europe and before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands.

According to the information received, on October 23, 2017, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center [1] published an article in which Mr. Jabarin is depicted as a “former member of a terrorist organisation” - the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and entitled: “Shawan Jabarin, former PFLP operative and current head of a Palestinian human rights NGO, recently submitted a report to the prosecutor of the ICC accusing Israel of “war crimes,” expecting the prosecutor to launch an investigation against Israel”.

The article further writes that “Mr. Jabarin wears two hats, one as a terrorist operative and the other as an activist in an organization that presents itself as a human rights organization”, and that “Mr. Jabarin travels extensively around the world to promote the “lawfare” and propaganda campaign against Israel”.

The article, which also mentions Ms. Kiswanson, denounces the submission in September 2017 by Al-Haq of a report exposing Israel’s war crimes to the ICC Prosecutor.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center publishes defaming articles targeting Mr. Jabarin. In 2013, the online media titled “Terrorism and human rights: Shawan Jabarin, human rights organisations director and PFLP terrorist activist recently visited France to participate in the anti-Israeli campaign”.

The increased attacks against Al-Haq coincide with progress achieved at the level of the ICC and decisions at the EU level regarding the labelling of settlement products. As a result of such advances, several Israeli newspapers, organisations and institutions have attacked Al-Haq and sought to discredit the organisation.

Officials at the highest level have also been reportedly attempting to prevent donors from working with Al-Haq (see background information). In addition, several donors have been reportedly experiencing difficulties in transferring funds to Al-Haq. On several occasions since the beginning of 2017, funds sent to Al-Haq were returned by the correspondent bank.

When inquiring about the transfer, Al-Haq and donors were told that letters using the Palestinian Monetary Authority letterhead had been sent to them, accusing Al-Haq not to be eligible for the transfer of funds. The Palestinian Monetary Authority has denied sending such letters.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms this ongoing smear campaign targeting Al-Haq and its members on baseless accusations. The Observatory denounces an evident retaliation of Al-Haq’s peaceful and legitimate activities, in particular in collaborating with the international criminal justice system.

The Observatory urges all competent authorities in Israel to investigate the situation and to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, including the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in order to create an environment where human rights defenders can operate freely. The authorities in Israel should in particular refrain from making any depreciating comments on human rights defenders and publicly support the important role played by human rights defenders, including those critical of the country’s human rights record.

Background information [2]:

The smear campaign targeting Al-Haq and its members has been escalating since September 2015, when several of Al-Haq’s European donors received false letters sent by an alleged official of the Palestinian Authority (PA), claiming that Al-Haq was being investigated by the consulting firm Ernst & Young for “financial irregularities, corruption, fraud and misuse of donations and funds”. Later on, the firm and the PA confirmed that these allegations were false and unfounded in a series of official letters addressed to Al-Haq in November 2015.

On November 23, 2015 and on February 10, 2016, Al Haq submitted together with Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Addameer and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) communications to the ICC Prosecutor’s Office, urging it to open an investigation.

In February, July and August 2016, Ms. Kiswanson and her family received frequent phone calls, emails and messages through other means that explicitly and indirectly threatened her life and security.

In March 2016, Al-Haq was the target of a series of cyber-attacks via emails containing Trojan horse viruses which, if not dealt with expediently, would have corrupted files as well as granted access to Al-Haq’s database. The complexity of these attacks confirms that they could only have been perpetrated by an entity with very sophisticated IT resources.

Coincidently, there have been direct attacks on Al-Haq from the Israeli Minister of Justice, several Israeli newspapers and Israeli organisations and institutions both at the local level and abroad. On June 29, 2017, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the UN, Ambassador Danny Danon, on the occasion of a media stake-out in front of the Security Council linked “Al Haq (…), led by Shawan Jabarin” to the so-called “PFLP terrorist organisation”. Ambassador Danon went on falsely characterising Al-Haq and Al Mezan, another Palestinian human rights organisation, as “supporters of terrorism”, and “inciters of violence”.

In July 2017, Irish officials reported to Al-Haq, while in Ramallah, that Prime Minister Netanyahu had directly mentioned Al-Haq to the Irish Foreign Minister, asking him not to fund the organisation.

In September 2017, fake recruitment announcements were advertised on job listing websites hosted in Saudi Arabia and Palestine, alleging that Al-Haq was recruiting for IT roles. When tracing back the announcement, it appears that request for advertisement were made under fake Al-Haq email addresses hosted in Romania.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Israel urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Nada Kiswanson and Mr. Shawan Jabarin, as well as all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned events, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring all those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law and in order to put an end to the harassment faced by Al-Haq members;

iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and ensure in all circumstance that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Refrain from making any depreciating comments on human rights defenders and publicly support the important role played by human rights defenders, including those critical of the country’s human rights record;

v. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular Articles 1, 5(c), 6, 8.2, 9.3(a) and 12.2;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in accordance with international human rights instruments.


Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel – Minister of Foreign Affairs; Fax: + 972 267 055 55 / 972-2-5303367; Email:,
Mr. Avigdor Liberman, Minister of Defense; Fax: +972 369 169 40; Email:
Ms. Ayelet Shaked; Minister of Justice; Fax: +972 262 886 18; E-mail:
Mr. Shai Nitzan, State Attorney; Email:
H.E. Ambassador Ms. Aviva Raz Shechter, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 716 05 55. Emil:
H.E. Ambassador Simona Frankel; Embassy of Israel in Belgium and Luxembourg, Fax: +32 2 373.56.17; Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Israel in your respective country.

Paris-Geneva, November 10, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT partnership, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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