SOLIDAR together with over 200 Organizations Demand International Community Stand Against Raids and Closures of 7 Palestinian Civil Society Organizations
Another upsurge of Israel’s repression of freedom of expression in Palestine took place on the morning of 18 August 2022, when the Israeli occupying forces raided and closed down the offices of seven Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs), namely Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man (Al-Haq), Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committees (HWC), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC). These are vital community organizations that serve Palestinian children, families and Human Rights Defenders.
Following the declarations of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who labelled them “terrorist organizations” under Israel’s Anti-Terrorism Law (2016) in October 2021, a military order outlawed the organizations in November 2021 and in August 2022, under Article 319 of the Emergency Regulations of 1945, the Israeli soldiers raided and sealed the doors of their offices, besides confiscating documents and equipment and destroying items inside. Furthermore, the organizations are facing an additional risk in terms of bank accounts freeze, movement restrictions including travel bans, and even arrest and detention of staff members.
These actions targeting Palestinian CSOs represent a worrying reduction of space for civil society in the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPTs), and are part of the systemic and ongoing campaign of oppression and domination that Israel is using against Palestinians across all areas under its control. By persecuting those Palestinian organizations or individuals documenting and condemning Israel’s severe human rights violations, Israel is trying to avoid accountability for its violence against Palestinians, widely violating freedom of expression in doing so, and perpetrating acts of apartheid prosecutable under the Rome Statute.
With its Campaign for the Recognition of the State of Palestine, SOLIDAR advocates for a two-state solution and for the recognition of the State of Palestine as the 194th full member of the United Nations (UN). A fundamental step in this direction is the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. As underlined by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell, “a free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for a two-state solution”. The unjustified attack against Palestinian human rights organizations at the hands of the Israeli government represents a severe violation of international law and a serious infringement of the rights to freedom of association, opinion and expression.
SOLIDAR, together with more than 200 Palestinian, regional, and international organizations, expresses its full solidarity with the seven Palestinian CSOs affected.
SOLIDAR endorses the Cairo Institute for Human Rights’ Statement, urging the international community to demand that Israel immediately revoke its designation of Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations,” reverse the military orders designating the organizations and closing their offices and repeal its Anti-Terrorism Law (2016) as it does not meet basic human rights standards.
SOLIDAR calls on the international community to take effective measures to end all other actions that deny Palestinians their inalienable human rights.
Lastly, SOLIDAR calls on the members of the international community to continue their support, increase funding and engage with financial institutions to ensure the transfer of funds to Palestinian CSOs.
Picture Credits: Al-Haq