On the 19th of October, 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defence designated six leading Palestinian civil society organizations, amongst them Al-Haq, as “terror organizations”. This blatant and unfounded attack on human rights advocates and more broadly Palestinian civil society not only puts the staff of the various organizations in immediate danger, but is also a major step towards shrinking and completely eliminating the space that Palestinian human rights defenders operate in.
In response, Al-Haq and the other affected organizations have escalated their international advocacy, engaging in a number of high-level meetings highlighting the latest effort of the Israel, the Occupying Power to silence critical voices. These briefings included presentations to the British Parliamentary Committee, the Arab Center Washington DC, members of the Oireachtas (Irish parliament), Italian parliamentarians and interventions to European Parliamentarians from the EPIPE group.
On 8 November, Dr Susan Power represented Al-Haq, alongside Khaled Quzmar, General Director of Defence for Children International and Sahar Francis, General Director, Addameer Prisoner Support before a meeting of the Civil Engagement Group in Seanad Éireann. Al-Haq proceeded to present the core work of the organization as well as its history, including the fact that Al-Haq has been monitoring and documenting human rights violations in Palestine for more than 40 years, regardless of the perpetrator. Additionally, Al-Haq’s long history of international engagement with various bodies, such as the UN’s Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court were highlighted, as well as the various international human rights awards presented to Al-Haq, including the 2018 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
Khaled Quzmar from DCI Palestine spoke of how “this designation has made him fear for his staff, who can potentially be arrested for coming to work. Banks will not be allowed to deal with the organisation, so he doesn't know how he will pay staff salaries”. We need concrete action to show that Ireland supports Palestine". Dr Power urged "We need a proper statement from Ireland on the non-recognition of the terror designation”.Meanwhile, Sahar Frances recommended, “We really expect that Ireland will lead at an EU level for bringing an end to the Israeli occupation... We need actions, not just statements".
On 8 November, Al-Haq presented to the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, alongside Sahar Francis, General Director Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, and Khaled Quzmar General Director of Defense for Children International - Palestine. The speakers recounted the history of smear and delegitimization campaigns by Israel, targeting human rights defenders and organizations such as Al-Haq, which have culminated in death threats to Al-Haq staff. These delegitimization campaigns have the aim of systematically cutting off funding and partnerships with local human rights organizations, as exemplified by various egregious and blatant attempts by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The “terrorist designation” perfectly fits into this dynamic of delegitimization in order to cut funding, as the Defence Ministry’s designation was publicised following the EU member states’ refusal to halt funding to the aforementioned organizations after Israel provided them with shambolic and discredited “evidence”.
On November 18, Dr Susan Power, Head of Legal Research and Advocacy at Al-Haq presented at the Arab Centre Washington, DC, on the “The Political and Legal Implications of Israel’s Crackdown on Palestinian NGOs”, along with Inès Abdel Razek, Advocacy Director at Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), Milena Ansari, International Advocacy Officer at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Yousef Munayyer
Non-resident Fellow at the Arab Center Washington DC. Additionally, the revelation of Front Line Defenders was presented, namely the fact that the phones of six staff members from the six targeted organizations have been infiltrated by the Pegasus spyware, a spyware software designed by the Israeli NSO Group. It is important to underline that this spyware infiltration took place in July 2020, more than a year prior to the fabricated “terrorist designations” of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and is linked to efforts to impede and surveil organizations and political representatives working with the International Criminal Court.
Lastly, it was highlighted that the “terror designations” should be viewed as political rather than legal acts and that the solution to their revocation, is a political one. Therefore, it is imperative that Third States leverage their influence to press Israel’s Minister of Defense to urgently revoke the designations, and to not recognise the designations as egregious methods of silencing human rights defenders, in acts amounting to apartheid.
Accordingly, Al-Haq recommends that Third States:
- To use their leverage with Israel to pressure Israel’s Minster of Defense, to urgently rescind the designations;
- To work with European and Third States to issue a statement condemning and not recognising the terror designations, as inhuman acts of apartheid under Article II(f) of the Apartheid Convention;
- To publish a bulletin to banks and financial institutions, putting them on notice to dismiss as inapplicable, Israel’s “terror designations”;
- To introduce domestic legislation to prohibit the sale of settlements goods and services;
- For the Third States to remove “terrorism” clauses as internal conditions placed on donor funding of civil society organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory;
- To unilaterally or collectively implement comprehensive trade sanctions against Israel, to ensure Israel’s compliance with international law and prevent further erasure of Palestinian presence from the occupied territory. Particular emphasis should be given to the need to end the sale or supply of military products to Israel, and in the EU, the discontinuation of the EU-Israel Association Agreement;
- For Third States to take concrete and immediate measures to end Israel’s prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territory, to bring to an end the apartheid regime over the Palestinian people since 1948, to ensure effective remedy and redress for all Palestinians, including the right of self-determination, and the right of Palestinian refugees and exiles in the diaspora to return to their homes in Palestine.
For Al-Haq participation in webinars see:
- 1 December 2021, StandWithThe6: Conversation with Palestinian Human Rights Groups Under Attack, MAKAN
- 29 November 2021, Jerusalem Fund & Palestine Centre
- 28 November 2021, Presentation to Liverpool, Palestinian Solidarity Campaign
- 26 November 2021, SOAS, Defending the Right to Defend Palestinian Rights [materials can be accessed here]
- 18 November 2021, The Political and Legal Implications of Israel’s Crackdown on Palestinian NGOs, Arab Centre Washington DC
- 18 November 2021, Challenging Repression of Palestinian Rights Advocacy
- 10 November 2021, Interview on Cork 96FM, StandWithThe6
- 9 November 2021, Israel Declares War on Palestinian Civil Society, The Electronic Intifada Podcast
- 8 November 2021, Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group
- 31 October 2021, Clubhouse
- 29 October 2021, “Designation of Six Palestinian NGOs as Terrorist” DAWN
- 29 October 2021, “Spotlight on Al-Haq with Shawan Jabarin”, Foundation for Middle East Peace