Amnesty and HRW says the 'appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement' [File: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images]
16 UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations working to support the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people condemned the Israeli Government’s shocking decision to declare six Palestinian civil society groups as ‘terrorist organisations’.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the organizations called on the International Community to publicly reject this move to obstruct the essential work of these organisations, and to continue supporting them.
On 19 October 2021, the Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz declared six Palestinian civil society groups as ‘terrorist organisations’. The six include some of the most well-established Palestinian human rights organisations working in the occupied Palestinian territory including Addameer, which provides legal services to Palestinian detainees and prisoners held within Israel’s military detention system; Al-Haq, a human rights organisation that has been internationally recognised for its work – including receiving the 2018 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic; and Defence for Children International – Palestine, a child rights organisation that protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian children living in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The organizations said the banned groups have long and well-established partnerships between international humanitarian and human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, War on Want and Save the Children. The risk of operations ending for some of those organisations, is an attack on human rights and will leave Palestinian children and others unable to access adequate and essential services.
The organisations targeted fulfil crucial roles in civil society, such as providing health care to the most vulnerable communities and sections of Palestinian society, organising legal support to people arrested and detained in the occupied Palestinian territory, including children, conducting crucial research and local programming to promote gender justice, right to health, and other broader civil society and human rights issues, and monitoring, collecting evidence of, and reporting human rights violations committed by Israeli and Palestinian authorities in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The organisations said the announcement follows years of relentless delegitimization of civil society groups who seek to expose and end human rights violations. Groups such as Al-Haq and Addameer are critical of human rights abuses conducted both by the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority.
“We note that according to the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory, last Friday’s decision published by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel ‘lists extremely vague or irrelevant reasons, including entirely peaceful and legitimate activities such as provision of legal aid and ‘promoting of steps against Israel in the international arena’. We are concerned about the impact this decision will have on children and Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory”, the statement further read.
On Monday, a group of 17 UN human rights experts called the designation “a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere,” and called on the international community to “use its full range of political and diplomatic tools to request that Israel review and reverse this decision.”
The organisations called on the UK government, alongside other governments, to take urgent practical steps to reiterate its public support to Palestinian human rights defenders and humanitarian and development organisations.