Israel wants to silence rights groups reporting on violations: NGO official

Israel wants to silence rights groups reporting on violations: NGO official
Palestinian NGO official told The New Arab that Israel adopted "political decisions" against Palestinian civil organisations to keep themselves silent towards violations against Palestinians.
3 min read
Palestine - AlQuds
24 October, 2021
He said that "for many decades, Israel is seeking to shut up all the civil human rights organizations operating in the Palestinian territories, to continue its ongoing violations against the Palestinian people, including their lands. (Getty)

Israel wants to shut down civil rights groups operating in occupied Palestinian territories who have been reporting on Israeli violations against Palestinians, an official from Al-Haq - one of the NGOs Israel designated as a "terrorist organisation" this week - has told The New Arab.

Tel Aviv has adopted "political decisions" against Palestinian rights organisations in attempt to silence them after they reported on its illegal activities against local Palestinians, Shawan Jabarin, the vice president of  Al-Haq said.

"For many decades, Israel has tried to silence to all the civil human rights organisations operating in the Palestinian territories, so it can continue ongoing violations against the Palestinian people living under occupation," Jabarin said.

"It is unacceptable to stand by silently and watch Israeli aggression against Palestinians," Shawan stressed, adding that "this is the main reason that pushed Israel to label us as a terrorist organisations."

On Friday, Benny Gantz, the Israeli defence minister, declared six Palestinian human rights groups as "terror organisations", alleging that they were operating as "an arm" for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

"Those organisations are active under cover of civil society institutions, but on the ground, they belong to an arm of the PFLP leadership, which means that they are working against the existence of Israel," Gantz said in a statement.

Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children-International, The Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, the Bisan Research and Advocacy Center and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees - Palestine's most high-profile NGOs - were outlawed.

Under a 2016 statute, the declaration enables Israeli authorities to close the nonprofits' offices, seize their assets and ban supporting their activities.

"They may be able to close us down. They can seize our funding. They can arrest us. But they cannot stop our firm and unshakeable belief that this occupation must be held accountable for its crimes," Jabarin said.

Jabarin also criticised the timing of the announcement, which was late on Friday, saying that "when Gantz issues such an order on Friday, it means he doesn't want the world to see his actions."

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Mohammed El-Kurd, a prominent activist, poet and reporter from occupied East Jerusalem's threatened Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, condemned the move as a "clear declaration of war against Palestinian civil society".

"This doesn’t mean that one should shy away from supporting these organizations [and] we should all stay posted to see what future communal efforts are needed from us to fight [against] this vicious campaign," he tweeted.

Amnesty and HRW, who collaborate extensively with many of the impacted organisations, called the move an "appalling and unjust decision" and "an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement".

"For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians," they said.

The international NGOs acknowledged travel bans and deportation have menaced their workers, though "Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression."

Hitting out at the international community for its "decades-long failure… to challenge grave Israeli rights abuses", encouraging their "brazen" behaviour, Amnesty and HRW turned to the global response.

"How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders.

"We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision."