Occupied Palestine (QNN)- Six Palestinian human rights groups recently designated by ‘Israel’ as “terrorist” sent joint letters on November 5 to United Nations Offices and Representatives, urging them to continue international pressure on ‘Israel’ to cancel its decision.
Al-Haq, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) sent letters expressing their appreciation for the statement from the United Nations special rapporteurs condemning the designations as “a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere.”
The organizations also welcomed the strong statement of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, that “claiming rights before a UN or other international body is not an act of terrorism, advocating for the rights of women in the occupied Palestinian territory is not terrorism, and providing legal aid to detained Palestinians is not terrorism.”
Additionally, the organizations sent letters to the UN Secretary-General Antَnio Guterres and the Human Rights Council President Nazhat Shameem Khan urging them to use their unique position to unequivocally condemn the Israeli designations and attempts to smear human rights work and to underline the importance of work by Palestinian civil society and the UN support of human rights advocacy, whether in Palestine or around the world.
“Our organizations reiterate that Israel’s designation constitutes the latest in an escalating series of smear attacks and institutionalized violence against defenders of the Palestinian people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms,” said the six groups in their joint letters.
“It forms part of Israel’s strategy to maintain its apartheid regime of institutionalized racial discrimination and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, by silencing human rights defenders.”
They said, “The arbitrary designation, targeting six of the most eminent Palestinian CSOs places serious obstacles on their documentation and monitoring of human rights violations, accountability work to prosecute Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, and legal and advocacy efforts.”
“These obstacles include, but are not limited to, the negative impact on funding from international partners due to Israel’s delegitimization campaign, raids of the Israeli military on Palestinian CSOs and the concurrent raids on offices and confiscation of essential data or the arrest of the organization’s staff members and prominent human rights defenders and advocates.”
The six organizations said they “appreciate the massive outpouring of support, condemnations of the designation and condemnation of the Israeli claims as unsubstantiated, by international civil society as well as government and organizational representatives.”
In order to foster justice and dignity for Palestinians suffering daily violations of their basic right and in order to ensure the continuation of international human rights work, the six organizations called upon the international community, the UN member states and its high offices to:
1. Call on Israel, to urgently rescind the designations as acts which violate the freedoms of opinion and expression, and freedom of association, and amount to an act of apartheid prosecutable under Article 7(2)(h) of the Rome Statute;
2. Publish a bulletin to banks and financial institutions, putting them on notice to dismiss as inapplicable, Israel’s terrorist designation of the six Palestinian organizations;
3. Communicate directly with, and recommend, that the European Union and Third States remove “terrorism” clauses as internal conditions placed on donor funding of civil society organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT);
4. Call on UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Nي Aolلin, to examine the compatibility of the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 with International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law;
5. Denounce the application of the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 to civil society organizations in the OPT as an overreaching of Israel’s domestic law to the OPT;
6. Call on Israel to repeal the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 effectively used to institutionalize the persecution of human rights defenders and entrench its colonial domination over the Palestinian people and their lands;
7. Urge Israel to immediately cease its systematic and ongoing policies and practices aimed at intimidating and silencing Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders, in breach of their right to freedom of expression, including through arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, institutionalized hate speech and incitement, residency revocation, deportations, and other forms of coercive or punitive measures.
Israeli War Ministry on 19 October 2021 issued a military order declaring six Palestinian civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to be “terrorist organizations.”
The Israeli War Minister office claimed that the six groups were “part of a network of organisations operating undercover in the international arena” on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian resistance group, which was listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 1997 by the US State Department.
The groups are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees.
The designation, made pursuant to a 2016 Israeli statute, effectively outlaws the activities of these civil society groups.
It authorizes Israeli occupation authorities to close their offices, seize their assets and arrest and jail their staff members, and it prohibits funding or even publicly expressing support for their activities.
On November 7, the Israeli forces announced that the War Ministry’s designation had been implemented after occupied West Bank Army Chief Yehuda Fox signed an order declaring the six groups “illegal” claiming they were “part” of the PFLP and “endanger the State of Israel”.
The US State Department said that it would seek clarification from Israel after it declared the six Palestinian groups as terrorist organisations, noting that Washington was not warned of the move.
“We’ll be engaging our Israelis partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said during a press briefing with reporters.
Later, a representative from Israel’s internal intelligence agency, Shin Bet, tasked with briefing the U.S. Congress headed to the United States to justify the six groups being outlawed.
Israeli Haaretz said the representative presented evidence on an unrelated organization.
According to the Israeli newspaper, the 74-page document had previously been presented to European diplomats in May in an attempt to convince them to stop funding the organizations.
Sources who were shown it at the time said it did not convince them.
According to sources, Haaretz said, additional evidence was presented to the U.S. State Department and other officials with higher security clearances.
The Shin Bet’s document quotes one of them linking PFLP to Addameer, Al-Haq, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Bisan Centre for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and Defence for Children International – Palestine.
“The institutions belonging to the Popular Front are related to one another and are the organisations’ lifeblood economically and organisationally. In other words, laundering money and funding the operations of the Popular Front,” Haaretz reported, citing the document.
Some Israeli analysts concluded the Shin Bet’s document does not offer concrete proof that the six human rights NGOs were used as a front for the PFLP.
Israel’s decision sparked a swift backlash around the globe, with the EU, US Jewish NGOs, progressive Democrats, and international human rights organizations expressing criticism.