UN condemns Israeli attack on Palestinian human rights organizations
UN officials on Wednesday slammed Israel’s escalating attacks against Palestinian civil society in the occupied West Bank, after the Israeli army stormed the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and humanitarian groups operating in Ramallah and shut them down last week.
“These actions amount to severe suppression of human rights defenders and are illegal and unacceptable,” the UN officials said, encouraging UN member states to take effective measures afforded by international law to put an end to these abuses.
In a dawn raid on 18 August, Israeli forces made extensive damage to property and issued military orders imposing the closure of the seven Palestinian human rights groups’ offices.
These attacks follow Israel’s earlier designations and declarations of these organisations as “terrorist” and “unlawful”.
“These classification and declarations are illegitimate and unjustifiable and no concrete and credible evidence substantiating Israel’s allegations has ever been provided,” said the experts, who made the same observations in April 2022.
On 18 and 21 August, the Israeli security service Shin Bet interrogated the directors of three of the seven institutions, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Al-Haq and Defence for Children-Palestine. The experts noted with particular concern the alleged threats made by Shin Bet against them, including as reported in a public report regarding Al-Haq’s director Shawan Jabarin.
“The Israeli government has taken multiple measures to undermine civil society organisations, restricting and repressing the legitimate activities of human rights defenders, which also has a disproportionate impact on women human rights defenders,” the experts added.
“The result is serious infringements of the rights to freedom of association, opinion and expression and the right to participate in public and cultural affairs, which Israel is fully obliged to fulfill, respect and protect,” the experts reported. “Civil society is what is left to the Palestinians for their minimum protection.
Shrinking this vital space and resource is illegal and immoral.”