Israel / TPO: Designation of Palestinian civil society groups as terrorists, a brazen attack on human rights

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On October 19, 2021, the Israeli Defense Ministry issued a military order declaring six Palestinian civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to be “terrorist organizations”. The groups are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Working Committees, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. The designation, made under a 2016 Israeli law, effectively bans the activities of these civil society groups. It allows the Israeli authorities to close their offices, seize their property, and arrest and imprison their staff, and it prohibits funding or even publicly expressing support for their activities.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who work closely with many of these groups, said in a joint statement:

“This appalling and unfair decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, the Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its regime for its repressive Palestinians. While staff members of our organizations have been expelled and banned from traveling, Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the crackdown. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to put an end to the work of the most important civil society organizations in Palestine. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge Israel’s grave human rights violations and impose significant consequences on them has encouraged the Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.

The response of the international community will be a real test of its determination to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have done so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We are at their side to challenge this scandalous decision. “


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