Washington, D.C., Aug. 18, 2022 — Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has reportedly ratified the terrorism designations of three of the six Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations first designated by the Israeli military on Oct. 22, 2021. Multiple reports also indicate that all six organizations’ offices, as well as the headquarters of the Palestinian Health Work Committees (HWC) have been raided and closed by Israeli forces. Al Haq, one of the six Palestinian organizations, issued a statement and tweeted a picture of an iron plate bolted to their entrance and a posted order declaring the organization unlawful. Defense for Children International – Palestine, another of the designated orgs, also issued a statement and tweeted pictures of Israeli forces raiding their office and of their front door smashed and bolted shut.
“Civil society is the glue that holds society to principles of justice, human rights, and human dignity. In Palestine, civil society groups committed to these principles are under constant threat from a government at odds with their application when it comes to the Palestinian people. These raids and forced closures are part of an ongoing effort to dismantle legitimate civil society programs in Palestine, which the Israeli government sees as a threat to its political agenda,” said Paul Carroll, Director of the Charity and Security Network. “This is the latest attack in a years-long campaign by the Israeli government and allied organizations to delegitimize, defund, and criminalize Palestinian civil society organizations that support Palestinian needs and advocate for human rights.”
Last fall, the Charity & Security Network published a report, The Alarming Rise of Lawfare to Suppress Civil Society: The Case of Palestine and Israel, documenting the strategies and tactics of a network of organizations—some of whom coordinate with the Israeli government—that spread disinformation and abuse counterterrorism laws in order to suppress civil society in Palestine.
These latest actions by the Israeli government come on the heels of nine European Union states issuing a joint statement last month rejecting Israel’s designations of the Palestinian Six as unsubstantiated. UN human rights experts have also rejected the designations, calling on the international community to publicly conclude that Israel has not substantiated its allegations, to resume or increase funding for the designated organizations, and to demand that Israel retract them.
“The Biden administration has had nearly a year to review Israel’s allegations against the Palestinian Six, and rather than join the international community in condemnation of this unsubstantiated, politically-motivated assault on civil society, it has chosen silence,” said Carroll. “This is not what a foreign policy centered on human rights and international law looks like. The administration should treat this situation with the urgency it deserves and call on Israel to rescind the designations immediately. Similarly, the international community must move beyond simply rejecting Israel’s unfounded allegations by demanding the reversal of the designations and by holding Israel to account for this assault on the international human rights community.”
The Charity & Security Network is a resource and advocacy center working to promote and protect the ability of nonprofit organizations to carry out peacebuilding, humanitarian, and human rights missions and to advance national security frameworks that support rather than impede this work. Learn more about the Charity & Security Network’s work at www.CharityAndSecurity.org, and follow us on Twitter: @CharitySecurity.