Israel/OPT: Six prominent Palestinian human rights groups banned

29/10/2021
Urgent Appeal

ISR 003 / 1021 / OBS 109
Judicial harassment /
Obstacle to the freedom of association
Israel / Occupied Palestinian Territory
October 29, 2021

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

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the designation of six Palestinian human rights organisations as “terrorist organisations” by Israel, under Israel’s domestic Anti-Terrorism Law, 5776-2016. The six organisations are Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-Palestine), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC). Al-Haq, is a member organisation of the FIDH. Addameer, Al-Haq and DCI-Palestine are members of the OMCT SOS-Torture network.

On October 19, the Israeli Defence Ministry issued six military orders [1] pursuant the Anti-Terrorism Law 5776 of 2016 declaring that the above-mentioned human rights NGOs were operating in a network run by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which Israel considers to be a “terror group”. The orders were made public on October 22, 2021, when the Minister of Defence claimed that “those organisations were active under the cover of civil society organisations, but in practice belong and constitute an arm of the [PFLP] leadership, the main activity of which is the liberation of Palestine and destruction of Israel” [2]. No evidence has been provided by the Ministry of Defence to substantiate these allegations. Moreover, according to the Anti-Terrorism Law 5776 of 2016, such evidence remains classified [3]. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, no criminal charges have been brought forward against the six organisations.

According to Israeli military and civilian law, designation as a “terrorist organisation” allows for the Israeli law enforcement bodies to close the organisations’ offices, seize their assets and arrests its members. It forbids funding and expressing support for their activities. Moreover, donors and supporters may also be subject to up to five years of imprisonment.

Since the October 22 announcement, smearing acts and campaigns have escalated on social media. On October 23, 2021, Mr. Shawan Jabbarin, Al-Haq’s General Director and FIDH’s Secretary-General, was attacked personally on Twitter.Additionally, supporters of the six NGOs have been targeted by a complaint filed by far-right group Im Tirtzu on the basis of the Anti-Terrorism Law for expressing support for those organisations.

Continuous attempts by the Israeli authorities to delegitimise human rights organisations have been well documented over the years, including in a recent report published by the Observatory. The report exposes the threefold strategy of the Israeli government: one, delegitimising civil society critical voices through “naming and shaming” and associating them with terrorists or anti-Semitics; two, pressuring anyone giving a platform for their discourse; three, lobbying actively to cut their sources of funding.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over this latest escalation of smearing and harassment against Palestinian organisations and human rights defenders, which are only aimed at hampering their legitimate human rights work.

The Observatory urges the Israeli authorities to put an end to all form of harassment against all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Israel urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

ii. Immediately withdraw the designations 371, 372, 373, 374, 375 and 376 as terrorists of the six Palestinian NGOs;

iii. Put an immediate end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against all human rights organisations, as well as all human rights defenders in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories;

iv. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the right to freedom of association and expression in the country, in accordance with relevant international and regional human rights standards, in particular Articles 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Addresses:

Mr. Naftali Bennet, Prime Minister of Israel. Email: nbennett@knesset.gov.ilTwitter: @naftalibennett
Mr. Benny Gantz, Minister of Defence; Email: pniot@mod.gov.ilTwitter: @gantzbe
Mr. Yair Lapid, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Email: sar@mfa.gov.ilTwitter: @yairlapid
Mr. Gideon Sa’ar, Minister of Justice; E-mail: ForeignRelations@justice.gov.ilTwitter: @gidonsaar
Mr. Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney; Email: state-attorney@justice.gov.il
H.E. Ambassador Ms. Meirav Eilon Shahar, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Email: mission-israel@geneva.mfa.gov.il
H.E. Ambassador Simona Frankel; Embassy of Israel in Belgium and Luxembourg; Email: web@brussels.mfa.gov.il

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Israel in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, October 29, 2021

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
· Tel OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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