Israel & Occupied Palestinian Territories: Unlawful raid of three Palestinian NGOs

14/12/2012
Urgent Appeal

ISR 001 / 1212 / OBS 116
Raid of NGOs offices / Harassment

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

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources, including Al-Haq, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, B’Tselem, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), of the unlawful raid of three Palestinian non-governmental organisations in Ramallah, in the West Bank.

According to the information received, on December 11, 2012, at about 3 am, members of the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) raided the offices of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Palestinian NGO Network, located in al-Masyon neighbourhood in the centre of Ramallah. During the raid, Israeli soldiers searched the offices, employees’ desks and the work files of the two organisations. Before withdrawing, they confiscated a number of PCs and laptops from the Documentation and Search Unit of Addameer, files and documents from the Media Unit, and a memory card, a hard drive, a video camera and papers related to the organisation’s work. Desks and filing cabinets were ransacked and there were scattered files, including posters of prisoners and hunger strikers ripped from the walls, all around the office. However, the extent of the files and documentation taken remains uncertain. The office of the Palestinian NGO Network was ransacked but it appears that no equipment was taken. It remains unclear, however, whether data was pulled from the server.

At the same time, a unit of Israeli forces stormed the headquarters of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), in the Ahmed Ryad building, near Palestine Public Health Complex, in Qaddoura refugee camp, in Ramallah. Soldiers broke the front gate of the headquarters, broke in the office doors, searched the offices and interfered with the contents of the office. During the raid, Israeli soldiers confiscated seven laptops, three PC hard drives, the Internet server and a number of other items including cameras. In addition, 3,000 NIS (about US$790) were taken.

Although the IOF reportedly searched the offices of the three organisations because they believe they are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which Israel considers a terrorist organisation (which the three organisations denied), Israeli forces did not present warrants to search the premises or contact the organisations about the raids.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the raids conducted by the Israeli armed forces on the three Palestinian organisations, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, and as such constitute a violation of the right to freedoms of association and expression. The raids also appear as a form of intimidation and threat against Palestinian NGOs and human rights defenders who tirelessly work to promote the rights of the occupied population, including those arbitrarily deprived of their freedom. As such they form part of the continuous campaign to target and hinder the work of human rights organisations and defenders.

Furthermore, the Observatory recalls that Mr. Ayman Nasser, a researcher with Addameer, remains detained in solitary confinement since October 15, 2012, when he was arrested by IOF soldiers at his home [1].
On November 26, 2012, the military prosecution in Ofer Court issued a list of charges against Mr. Nasser, which include encouraging the support of and solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, participating in the annual Palestinian Prisoners Day on April 17, 2011 and 2012 and in solidarity activities during prisoners’ hunger strikes.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Israeli authorities urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ayman Nasser, all members of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Palestinian NGO Network and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committee, and more generally of all human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

ii. Release Mr. Ayman Nasser immediately and unconditionally, since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned raids in order to identify all those responsible and bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal, as well as apply the sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Provide adequate reparation to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Palestinian NGO Network and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committee, and return all confiscated property, including the archives and computers of the mentioned organisations;

v. Put an end to acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against all human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory;

vi. Comply with all the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- its Article 6.a, which states that "everyone has the right individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems",
- Article 12.1, which foresees that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms”,
- and its Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”

vii. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Israel.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel, The Office of the President, 3 Hanassi Street, Jerusalem 92188, Israel. Fax: +972 2 561 1033; +972 2 566 4838; Email: public@president.gov.il; president@president.gov.il
· Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister, Office of the Prime Minister, 3 Kaplan Street, PO Box 187, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91919, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 651 2631 / 02-670-5475, E-mail: rohm@pmo.gov.il, pm_eng@pmo.gov.il
· Mr. Ehud Barak, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Ministry of Defence, 37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909, Israel. Fax: + 972 3 69 16940; +972 3 691 7915; Email: minister@mod.gov.il
· Mr. Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard, Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91035, Israel. Fax: +972 2 628 7757 / +972 2 628 8618 / + 972-2-5303367. Email: sar@mfa.gov.il
· Mr. Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Minister of Public Security, Ministry of Public Security, Kiryat Hamemshala, Jerusalem 91181, Israel. Fax: +972 2 584 7872. Email: sar@mops.gov.il
· Mr. Yaakov Ne’eman, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 29 Salah al-Din Street, Jerusalem 91010, Israel. Fax: + 972 2 628 7757 / + 972 2 628 8618 / + 972 2 530 3367. Email: sar@justice.gov.il / tifereth@justice.gov.il
· H.E. Ambassador Mr. Eviatar Manor, Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, Avenue de la Paix 1-3, CH-1202, Geneva, Switzerland, E-mail: mission-israel@geneva.mfa.gov.il, Fax: +41 22 716 05 55
· H.E. Ambassador Jacques Revah, Embassy of Israel in Brussels, 40 avenue de l’Observatoire, 1180 Uccle, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 373 56 17, Email: brussels@israel.org

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

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