On 30 October 2021, Al-Haq along with five organisations released the position paper, “Position Paper: Dangerous Designations, Israel’s Authoritarian Dismantling of Palestinian Civil Society, an Attack on Human Rights and the Rule of Law”. On 19 October 2021, the Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz announced the designation of six leading Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) as “terror organizations” under Israel’s domestic Anti-Terrorism Law (2016), effectively outlawing the organizations and placing them at risk of imminent reprisals. The six targeted organizations are: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer), Al-Haq Law in the Service of Man (Al-Haq), Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
For decades, these organizations have been at the forefront of the Palestinian civil society and significantly contributed to the advancement of human rights, prisoners’ and children rights, women empowerment, socio-economic, agricultural and environmental development, in an effort to represent Palestinian voices, in Palestine and the world. Addameer provides legal support to Palestinian political prisoners, exposing human rights violations committed against them by Israel, the Occupying Power. Al-Haq works to protect the rule of law and human rights, documenting human rights violations and seeking accountability for Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bisan Center defends the socio-economic, political, and civil rights of the poor and marginalized in the Palestinian society. DCI-P supports the rights of Palestinian children, through the provision of legal services to the most vulnerable, as well as national and international advocacy. UAWC seeks agricultural development through empowering Palestinian farmers within a sustainable community-based framework. UPWC is a feminist organization aimed at empowering Palestinian women to build a progressive Palestinian society free from all forms of discrimination.
Israel’s designation constitutes the latest in an escalating series of smear attacks and institutionalized violence against defenders of the Palestinian people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms that form part of Israel’s strategy to maintain its apartheid regime of institutionalized racial discrimination and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, by silencing human rights defenders. The arbitrary designation targets six of the most eminent Palestinian CSOs and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) engaged in critical human rights work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), placing serious obstacles on their documentation and monitoring of human rights violations, accountability work to prosecute Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, and legal and advocacy efforts to bring Israel’s occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid regime to an end.
In light of the above, the six Palestinian organisations recommend that the international community, UN Member States and civil society:
- Call on Israel, to urgently rescind the designations as acts which violate the freedoms of opinion and expression, and freedom of association, and amount to an acts of apartheid prosecutable under Article 7(2)(h) of the Rome Statute;
- Publish a bulletin to banks and financial institutions, putting them on notice to dismiss as inapplicable, Israel’s terrorist designation of the six Palestinian organizations;
- Communicate directly with, and recommend, that the European Union and Third States remove “terrorism” clauses as internal conditions placed on donor funding of civil society organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory;
- Call on UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ms. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, to examine the compatibility of the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 with International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law;
- Denounce the application of the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 to civil society organizations in the OPT as an overreaching of Israel’s domestic law to the OPT;
- Call on Israel to repeal the Anti-Terror Law, 2016 effectively used to institutionalize the persecution of human rights defenders and entrench its colonial domination over the Palestinian people and their lands;
- Urge Israel to immediately cease its systematic and ongoing policies and practices aimed at intimidating and silencing Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders, in breach of their right to freedom of expression, including through arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, institutionalized hate speech and incitement, residency revocation, deportations, and other forms of coercive or punitive measures.