LONDON, Wednesday, October 27, 2021 – The Palestinian News and Information Agency (WAFA) – Sixteen United Kingdom-based organizations yesterday decried the Israeli occupation authorities’ decision to designate six Palestinian human rights and civil society groups as “terrorist organizations”.
A statement said 16 UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organizations “working to support the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people condemn the Israeli government’s shocking decision to declare six Palestinian civil society groups as ‘terrorist organizations’,” while calling on “the International Community to publicly reject this move to obstruct the essential work of these organizations, and to continue supporting them.”
The Israeli designation affected some of the most well-established Palestinian human rights organizations working in the occupied Palestinian territory including Addameer, which provides legal services to Palestinian detainees and prisoners held within Israel’s military detention system; Al-Haq, a human rights organization that has been internationally recognized for its work – including receiving the 2018 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic; and Defense for Children International – Palestine, a child rights organization that protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian children living in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
“These organizations have long and well-established partnerships between international humanitarian and human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, War on Want and Save the Children,” the UK-based organizations added while stressing that “the risk of operations ending for some of those organizations is an attack on human rights and will leave Palestinian children and others unable to access adequate and essential services.”
They elaborated that the targeted Palestinian organizations “fulfill crucial roles in civil society, such as: providing health care to the most vulnerable communities and sections of Palestinian society; organizing legal support to people arrested and detained in the occupied Palestinian territory, including children; conducting crucial research and local programming to promote gender justice, right to health, and other broader civil society and human rights issues; in addition to monitoring, collecting evidence of, and reporting human rights violations committed by Israeli and Palestinian authorities in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
They added: “This announcement follows years of relentless delegitimization of civil society groups who seek to expose and end human rights violations. Groups such as Al-Haq and Addameer are critical of human rights abuses conducted both by the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. We note that according to the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory, last Friday’s decision published by the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing of Israel ‘lists extremely vague or irrelevant reasons, including entirely peaceful and legitimate activities such as provision of legal aid and promoting of steps against Israel in the international arena.’ We are concerned about the impact this decision will have on children and Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory.”
The UK-based organizations called on their government to take urgent action in support of Palestinian human rights, humanitarian and development organizations.
“The UK government has committed to supporting human rights defenders around the world, and has called for the government of Israel to ‘fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of human rights defenders and organizations and to allow them to freely operate in Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories’. Alongside other governments, it must now take urgent practical steps to reiterate its public support to Palestinian human rights defenders and humanitarian and development organizations,” they stressed.
The signatories of the press statement were ABCD Bethlehem, Amos Trust, Amnesty International UK, Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), Christian Aid, Embrace the Middle East, Friends of Nablus and Surrounding Areas (FONSA), Interpal, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam GB, Quakers in Britain, Sabeel-Kairos UK, Save the Children UK in addition to War on Want.