On 8 November 2021, Al-Haq, along with the five Palestinian civil society organizations, who Israel has designated as “terror organizations” under its Counter Terrorism law of 2016, and “unauthorized organizations” under Military Order in the occupied West Bank, sent the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) an urgent letter calling for its immediate intervention through the use of its good offices and its right to initiative to pressure Israel into rescinding its designation decisions. The targeted organizations include: Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer), Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Mankind (Al-Haq), Bisan Center for Research and Development (Bisan), Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).
On 19 October 2021, the Israeli Defense Minister designated the six Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations” under Israel’s Anti-Terrorism Law of 2016. The designation has spurred criticism and condemnation by the international community, including by UN treaty bodies, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, European Union officials, States, as well as from individuals and groups of the international civil society.
In spite of statements of condemnation emanating over the past two weeks, Israel's commander-in-chief of the Central Command issued military orders on 3 November 2021 declaring the six Palestinian organizations “unlawful associations”, and transposing the unlawful designation within the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), in a demonstration of Israel’s determination to execute and implement its designation decisions.
The letter highlighted the severe ramifications of Israel’s designations, under both Israel’s Anti-Terrorism Law of 2016, which provides for a sweeping catalogue of extraordinary and mandatory penalties for leadership, management and membership of a designated terrorist organization, as well as under the previously repealed and defunct Article 84 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945 – based on which the military orders were issued – and with which the military commander has resurrected to exercise broad powers to carry out property demolitions, censorship measures, closures, curfews, administrative detentions, and now, the deportations against the six Palestinian organizations.
The letter further reminded the ICRC of the important work Al-Haq has been doing for more than four decades in terms of upholding the rule of law and disseminating international humanitarian law (IHL) in the OPT, as well as the indispensable work carried out by fellow organizations in relation to regular prison visits, documenting and monitoring violations committed against Palestinian prisoners and detainees.
It must be noted that Israel’s blanket attack on the six Palestinian organizations comes in the context of Israel’s widespread and systematic smear campaign against Palestinian civil society organizations and human rights defenders to delegitimize, oppress, silence and drain their work and resources.
Al-Haq and fellow organizations asked the ICRC, as the leading impartial, neutral, and independent humanitarian body, to use its right of initiative and exercise pressure on Israel to rescind its designations, and stop the attack on the advocates of international law, especially IHL in the OPT.
Read the full letter here.