Since its establishment in 1979, Al-Haq has faced various forms of attack and smear campaigns by the Israeli authorities, ranging from the arbitrary detention of staff members and the imposition of travel bans to having its offices raided, as well as Israeli newspaper articles targeting the organisation and its Director. Those behind the attacks on Al-Haq have also tried to use various forms of pressure to undermine the work of the organisation and convince our partners not to support us. Al-Haq has always taken these attacks in its stride as a natural consequence to its defense of human rights. Al-Haq has chosen international law as its weapon to challenge the injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people because it truly believes that the pen is mightier than the sword.
In recent months, as of September 2015, however, the attacks against Al-Haq have intensified. Coinciding with, and as a result of, the progress achieved at the level of the International Criminal Court and decisions at the EU level regarding the labeling of settlement products, anonymous emails, phone calls and Facebook posts began turning up in an effort to raise questions regarding the administration of Al-Haq’s finances in an attempt to undermine Al-Haq’s funding base and sow discontent and confusion within Al-Haq’s staff members, with accusations of fraudulent activities and lack of transparency. In their attempt to cover up their source, the attacks claimed they originated from within the Palestinian Authority; a fact categorically refuted by an official statement by the State of Palestine which also confirmed its full support to Al-Haq. All of these attempts have been dealt with openly between Al-Haq and its partners and have ultimately failed to scare Al-Haq’s staff or its partners. When the campaign was still in its early stages an article written by Israeli prominent Israeli journalist Amira Hass appeared in Haaretz newspaper of 23 November 2015 in which the writer shed light on the smear campaign against Al-Haq and questioned the intent and the goals of the people who stand behind it.
Nevertheless the attacks continue unabated. Anonymous emails to donors, followed up by ones to staff, citing non-existent fraud investigations and financial difficulties, all failed to generate any response or damage. This was then followed-up by almost daily direct calls from blocked numbers to partners and staff members in an effort to intimidate, confuse and frighten; all to no avail. These calls claimed to be from Al-Haq staff members, journalists and staff of partner organisations. All came from false domains or persons. Throughout these vicious attacks Al-Haq, supported by its staff and partners, chose not to respond. It is worth mentioning the Al-Haq keeps record of all correspondences that have been received.
Last week, however, the tactics have taken an extreme and dangerous turn with one of Al-Haq staff members receiving death threats. The threats that targeted one of Al-Haq’s staff members and Shawan Jabarin, the General Director of the organization, were from an anonymous caller whose number was blocked with the caller directly connecting the risk to the life of the staff member with Al-Haq’s work regarding the International Criminal Court. The appropriate authorities have been notified and are investigating the case. Al-Haq is confident that the source of these threats will be identified and brought to justice through the course of these investigations.
We are convinced that the source of these attacks, as the case was in previous years, is the Israeli side. This is an institutionalized, planned and very well-resourced campaign – with IT skills beyond any expert capacity. There have been direct attacks on Al-Haq from the Israeli Minister of Justice, Israeli newspapers and Israeli organisations and institutions both at the local level and abroad. These same entities have possibly also targeted Israeli human rights organisations in attempt to derail their work.
In the meantime, Al-Haq will remain steadfast in the face of these attacks and not be distracted or deterred from continuing its work in the pursuit of justice.