On 27 October 2021, Palestinian civil society organizations hosted a joint solidarity meeting at Al-Haq’s office in Ramallah attended by activists from Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The meeting addressed the ramifications of Israel’s unprecedented and alarming escalation of attacks against Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations, culminating in the recent designation of the six eminent Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations” under Israel’s domestic Anti-Terrorism Law of 2016.
The solidarity meeting witnessed a strong attendance by around 20 Israeli pro-Palestinian NGOs, who engaged with representatives of the targeted organisations: 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), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
General Director of Al-Haq, Shawan Jabarin, conveyed a staunch message of steadfastness to the Israeli civil society organizations affirming that this declaration “is the last card in [Israel’s] pockets, [after] smear campaigns, [attempts to] dry out our resources. This is not new, they failed to silence us. We are still here and we will continue our work.” He relayed that this decision “is a test for the international community and Third States”, and urged the Israeli NGOs to focus their advocacy work towards the U.S. and fight Israel’s attempts to sell misinformation. Mr. Jabarin further emphasized that “we need to stand together and behind our shared values of justice, human rights and equality”, and that “without accountability, there is no way for the human rights [situation] to develop.”
Reaffirming Mr. Jabarin’s calls, General Director of Addameer, Sahar Francis, the Executive Director of Bisan Center for Research and Development, Ubai Al-Aboudi, Director General of the UAWC, Fouad Abu Saif, and General Director of DCI-P, Khaled Quzmar, all stressed on the need to take immediate action and work together to defy the Israeli wrongful designation, including within the Israeli public. As put in the words of Mr. Quzmar, “the war criminals are criminalizing the victims”, which is a measure that cannot be tolerated.
Israeli NGOs expressed their strong solidarity with the six targeted Palestinian organizations and reiterated their unabated support to their indispensable work. They further stressed the importance of taking active actions now to defy the Israeli unlawful and barbarous designation and criminalization of Palestinian organizations and human rights defenders, that aims to destroy any chance of having a strong and independent Palestinian civil society. They confirmed that action is well under way within the Israeli public to ultimately revoke the designation decision.
More specifically, Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of B’Tselem, emphasized that the Israeli designation “is null and void, and says nothing about [the Palestinian Civil Society organisations’] work. But it speaks volume of the type of the Israeli government and regime” in place. He explained that the responsibility of this decision lies on the entire Israeli government, not only the Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, who himself is responsible for war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip and for the settlement building and expansion in the West Bank. Mr. El-Ad further voiced his support to the Palestinian civil society, stating that “we have worked together in the past and will continue to work together in the future”.