Aug 22, 2022
More than 50 Israel-based civil society organizations on Monday expressed solidarity with the Palestinian nonprofits that have been subjected to an ongoing legal and physical assault from the Israeli apartheid regime.
"We stand in solidarity with our fellow human rights defenders in Palestinian society."
"Defense of human rights is not terrorism," the 53 signatories, including B'Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, and dozens of others, wrote in a statement. "Israel is persisting in its declaration of prominent Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist groups. Recently, the military put words into action by raiding their offices and shutting them down."
In October, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz labeled Addameer, Al-Haq, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees as "terrorist organizations," effectively criminalizing the NGOs based on unsubstantiated accusations that they have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and its paramilitary branch.
"These declarations are baseless," the new statement continues. "Indeed, the U.S. administration, the European Union, and other allies of Israel found Israel's allegations unconvincing. After thoroughly examining the material Israel provided them, all of the European countries that are donors to these organizations decided to continue their support."
The statement's publication coincided with fresh reporting that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency was unable to find evidence that would support Israel's punitive classification of the "Palestinian six," as the half-dozen outlawed human rights groups are widely known.
According to The Guardian's summary and a pair of unnamed sources familiar with the CIA's classified report, the agency's findings appear to vindicate human rights advocates from Israel, the United States, and elsewhere who have spent the past 10 months denouncing Israel's allegations of "terrorism," which experts from the United Nations and nine European Union governments have also rejected.
"Documentation, advocacy, and legal aid are the core of human rights work around the world," says the statement. "Criminalizing such activity is a deplorable act characteristic of repressive regimes."
"We repudiate these baseless declarations and call on the international community to pressure Israel to revoke its decision."
Last Thursday, in an intensification of its effort to prevent Palestinian human rights organizations from documenting Israeli war crimes and engaging in advocacy work, the apartheid regime's military raided the offices of seven groups--including the six aforementioned ones--confiscating property, sealing off doors, and posting official notices proclaiming the groups illegal.
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the first Palestinian-American woman elected to Congress, swiftly urged the Biden administration to "hold Israel accountable" for its attack in the occupied West Bank. In the face of continued U.S. inaction, however, Israeli authorities on Sunday reportedly detained Khaled Quzmar, the director of Defense for Children International-Palestine, for roughly two hours.
Tlaib was one of nearly two dozen House Democrats who signed Rep. Ayanna Pressley's (D-Mass.) July letter calling on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national intelligence director Avril Haines to persuade Israel to rescind its terror designations.
In their Monday statement, the Israel-based civil society organizations said that "we stand in solidarity with our fellow human rights defenders in Palestinian society."
"We repudiate these baseless declarations," they added, "and call on the international community to pressure Israel to revoke its decision."
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