Jerusalem24 – The 6 Palestinian Civil Society Organizations that were labeled by Israel as terrorist organizations have issued a statement 6 months later, with updates regarding their case.
Since then, the organizations, represented by the Adalah Legal Center and the offices of Attorney Michael Sfard and Attorney Jawad Boulous, have undertaken formal procedures challenging the evidentiary basis of the military orders.
On 16 November 2021, the organizations’ legal team sent a letter to the Israeli authorities demanding that they reveal the entirety of the evidence forming the basis of the designation. In response, Israel’s Military Attorney, stated in a letter dated 2 January 2021, that “the core of the declarations is based on classified…information that cannot be disclosed.” Thereafter, the organizations filed a procedural objection against the military orders, noting the illegality of the declarations, the absence of due process, and the lack of an evidentiary basis for the declaration.
The statement said that “the blanket criminalization and outlawing of our organizations by Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime can at any time manifest itself in raids on our offices, seizure of all assets, arbitrary arrests of staff, and prohibition of funding, and/or even public support for our activities.” In addition to that, according to the 2016 Counter-Terrorism Law, directors and senior staff of the organizations are at risk of facing up to 25 years in prison, including other arbitrary measures against staff and supporters.
The statement also added that, “we understand the decades-long smear campaigns led by Israel and its government-affiliated bodies and proxy groups to be part of Israel’s systematic policy of silencing opposition to maintain its apartheid system over the Palestinian people as a whole. More specifically, the designation in itself amounts to acts of persecution and apartheid under Article 2(f) of the Apartheid Convention.”
Since the designation, the Dutch government ended its funding of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. The European Commission also suspended funding to one of Al-Haq’s projects.
Reprecussions were not only felt through funding. Khitam Sa’afin, the president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees was sentenced to 16 months of imprisonment after nearly 15 months of arbitrary detention.
While Human Rights Defender and Lawyer at Addameer, Salah Hamouri, has been under administrative detention since 7 march 2022, which can be renewed.
The organizations not only document Human Rights Violations across the occupied territories, they also provide critical services to those most marginalized and at-risk in Palestinian communities. This includes women, children, agricultural workers.
The statement concludes that “It is unacceptable that States and actors have failed to move beyond verbal denunciations of Israel’s criminalization of Palestinian civil society; it is intolerable that they instead take on decisions that compound the persecution of the six Palestinian organizations, without taking any concrete actions to dismantle the Israeli settler-colonial and apartheid regime and hold it accountable.”