Israel has outlawed six prominent Palestinian human rights groups by declaring them terrorist organisations, in a major escalation of its decades-long crackdown on political activism in the occupied territories.
Israel has designated six leading Palestinian civil society groups as outlawed "terrorist organisations" in a move swiftly condemned by the Palestinian Authority and international human rights groups.
The declaration by the Israeli Defence Ministry on Friday appeared to pave the way for Israel to raid their offices, seize assets, arrest staff and criminalise any public expressions of support for the groups.
Most of the targeted organisations document alleged human rights violations by Israel, which routinely detains Palestinian activists.
The Palestinian Authority condemned what it said was a “strategic assault on Palestinian civil society and the Palestinian people’s fundamental right to oppose Israel’s illegal occupation and expose its continuing crimes."
Israel's decision to effectively outlaw the activities of six Palestinian civil society organizations is an “appalling and unjust” attack on the international human rights movement. Read our statement with @amnesty: https://t.co/E6yQPHkGes— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) October 22, 2021
Rights groups targeted
Israeli and international rights groups condemned the move as well, calling it an assault on civil society and expressing solidarity with the targeted organisations.
Many noted that Israel already outlaws even peaceful political activities in the occupied West Bank.
New York-based Human Rights Watch and London-based Amnesty International released a joint statement condemning the move as 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 criticise its repressive rule over Palestinians,” they said. “This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organisations.”
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem called the government's declaration “an act characteristic of totalitarian regimes, with the clear purpose of shutting down these organisations."
“B’Tselem stands in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues, is proud of our joint work over the years – and is steadfast to continue so.”
The designated groups are Al Haq, a human rights group founded in 1979, as well as the Addameer rights group, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.
Representatives from the targeted organisations could not immediately be reached for comment.
Proud to be in solidarity with @alhaq_org's director @SJabaren, and with other Palestinian human rights defenders. Al-Haq and @btselem proudly won international awards together, and together we will defeat this apartheid. pic.twitter.com/sOy9ziBPlx— Hagai El-Ad (@HagaiElAd) October 22, 2021