ICMEP Stands in Solidarity with Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Under Attack
This past Friday, Israel Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, signed a military order declaring six leading Palestinian civil society organizations to be “terrorist organizations” – they are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees.
These organizations are at the forefront of protecting Palestinian children, youth, women, prisoners and others who suffer under Israel’s brutal apartheid and ethnic cleansing policies. Their critical activities include: monitoring human rights abuses, providing evidence used in prosecuting Israeli war crimes, legal advocacy for children, and more. The order also criminalizes the funding or public expression of support for the organizations and their activities.
Addameer, which provides prisoner support and legal assistance to Palestinian prisoners, calls this a “sinister” attack, which “effectively outlaws the organizations, placing them at risk of imminent reprisals.” Human Rights Watch says it allows Israel to, among other things, close down offices, seize assets, and arrest and imprison staff members. The Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, editorialized that it is “a stain upon Israel.” ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, is even clearer: “[I]t is Israel that stands accused of terror acts against a civilian population under its control. In blatant violation of virtually every article of the Fourth Geneva Convention intended to both protect people living without rights under hostile occupation, Israel stands accused of crimes against humanity.” And the Israeli human rights organization, B’tselem, describes the decision as “an act characteristic of totalitarian regimes, with the clear purpose of shutting down these organizations.”
Of course, what would you expect of apartheid Israel. This past July, Israeli forces raided the Ramallah offices of Defense for Children International–Palestine, destroying property and confiscating computers and files regarding its work with imprisoned Palestinian children and youth. And with virtually not a peep from the international community, much less any reprisal.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International issued the following joint statement:
This appalling and unjust decision is 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. … This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner. 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.
Indiana Center for Middle East Peace adds its voice to the other justice and peace organizations around the world condemning the criminalization of these six Palestinian NGOs. We stand in solidarity with them in their work for full civil, political, and human rights. And we urge our friends to engage with their community organizations, religious institutions, government and other civil society groups to support efforts locally, nationally, and globally to hold Israel accountable under international law and to stand with these and other activists, organizations, and human rights defenders.