Thursday, January 20

Palestinian NGOs designated as “terrorists” call for support | Human rights news

Palestinian human rights groups designated by Israel as “terrorist organizations” have called for international support to reverse the decision, which has the potential to compromise their ability to carry out humanitarian work.

A military order signed by Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Friday effectively banned six organizations, putting them at risk of imminent retaliation. They were accused of being linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), whose armed wing has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis.

Al-Haq, an organization that has documented rights violations since 1979, denied the allegations and called for “international solidarity.”

“It is no coincidence that Israel’s recent escalation of punitive measures against Al-Haq and other civil society organizations came immediately after the opening of an International Criminal Court investigation into Israel’s crimes in the Situation in Palestine, “the group said in a statement.

Former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda determined in March that sufficient preliminary evidence existed to justify an investigation into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories. Israel has said it will not cooperate with the investigation.

“The unfounded accusations represent an alarming and unjust escalation of attacks against the Palestinian people in their fight for freedom, justice and the right to self-determination,” said Al-Haq.

Addameer, an organization that focuses on prisoners’ rights and has also been blacklisted, was one of the promoters of the petition asking the UN higher court to initiate the investigation.

In a tweet, he called the military order an attempt to “criminalize” the work of civil society organizations “that challenge Israel’s prolonged military occupation.”

The organization has called on the international community to act by pressuring Israel to withdraw the designation and “cease the use of illegal practices and policies of intimidation and harassment” against civil society organizations.

He also argued that the designation represents an “egregious and illegal” application of Israeli domestic law to the occupied Palestinian territories that contravenes the internationally recognized right of Palestinian peoples to self-determination.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have warned that the designation gives Israeli security forces the authority to shut down the groups’ offices, confiscate their assets, and arrest and imprison members of their staff. It is also prohibited to finance or even publicly express your support for their activities.

Addameer called on “donors, supporters and human rights actors around the world to condemn the arbitrary designations and intimidation tactics and publicly reiterate their support for Palestinian civil society organizations.”

The other four groups Israel is targeting include Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Union of Agricultural Labor Committees.

‘Escalate repressive tactics’

Khaled Quzmar, director general of Defense for Children International-Palestine, said that local human rights groups have been operating in a hostile environment where “disinformation campaigns” are increasingly common.

“After years of delegitimization and disinformation campaigns against us failed to silence our work, the Israeli authorities have now chosen to intensify repressive tactics by labeling civil society organizations as terrorists,” Quzmar said in a statement.

“We demand that the international community use all available means to hold the Israeli authorities accountable … and act to end complicity with and support for the Israeli apartheid regime,” he said.

Israel’s Defense Ministry has not commented on its decision or released any evidence to support its allegations.

The UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory said on Saturday that the reasons cited by Israel’s defense minister were “vague or irrelevant,” and denounced his decision as the latest step in a “long-standing stigmatization campaign. a long time “against organizations.

‘Undemocratic’ decision

Israel’s terror label for all six groups appears to have taken the United States and Europe by surprise.

It could force them to choose a side at a time when efforts to negotiate the terms of a Palestinian state alongside Israel are hopelessly bogged down.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said his office had not received a prior warning about the designation.

“We will speak with our Israeli partners to obtain more information on the basis of the appointment,” Price said Friday in a conference call with reporters in Washington.

“We believe that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are of vital importance for responsible and responsive governance,” he said.

Some Democratic members of the United States Congress took a position against Israel’s decision on Saturday, and Representative Betty McCollum noted that its actions were “undemocratic and contrary to the values ​​expected of an ally of the United States.”

Representative Ilhan Omar called Israel’s move “a textbook form of evading responsibility for human rights violations and an affront to all who care about peace.”

Americans for Peace Now, a US-based Jewish organization calling for a resolution to the decades-long conflict, has called the move “deeply troubling.”

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