The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London is deeply concerned by Israel’s designation of six Palestinian rights groups as terror organizations.
The decision to shut down six prominent Palestinian human rights organizations involved in humanitarian work in the region will harm countless people who depend on these organizations for lifesaving support.
Israeli occupation authorities’ decision to close the offices of the six human rights groups, seize their assets, arrest and jail their staff members, and prohibit funding or even support for their activities amounts to a policy of apartheid seeking to silence human rights promoters and a serious violation of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Labelling effective NGOs “terrorists” is a way to evade accountability for human rights violations and an affront to everyone who cares about peace.
Counter-terrorism legislation must not be used to quell legitimate human rights and humanitarian work.
As the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory pointed out, the designation decisions published by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel list extremely vague or irrelevant reasons, including entirely peaceful and legitimate activities such as the provision of legal aid and the ‘promotion of steps against Israel in the international arena.
The international community should immediately call upon the Israeli government to reverse their decision and restore these organizations’ ability to continue their important work and respect the freedom of association and expression, without any interference or harassment against the organizations or their staff.
The six groups designated by Israel as terrorist organizations 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.
Not so long on, PRC was blacklisted by Israel under the same pretext. The Centre has been in consultative status with the Social Economic Council since 2015 and will continue to speak up for Palestinian human rights, particularly the right of return, until the biggest struggle in human history is solved and the world’s Palestine refugee population return to their Israeli-occupied motherland.