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OHCHR Condemns Israel's ‘Terrorism’ Designation of Palestinian Civil Society

OHCHR Condemns Israel's ‘Terrorism’ Designation of Palestinian Civil Society

Wednesday, 27 October, 2021 - 09:45
Addameer offices in Ramallah (Reuters)

Israel's decision to designate six Palestinian civil society organizations as "terrorist" is an attack on human rights defenders and should be immediately revoked, the UN High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) has announced.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Tuesday that the organizations, which include some of the critical partners of the UN Human Rights Office, face far-reaching consequences as a result of this arbitrary decision, as do the people who fund them and work with them.

"The crucial work they perform for thousands of Palestinians risks being halted or severely restricted."

Bachelet stressed that claiming rights before a "UN or other international body is not an act of terrorism, advocating for the rights of women in the occupied Palestinian territory is not terrorism, and providing legal aid to detained Palestinians is not terrorism."

She explained that the published designation decisions by the Israeli Minister of Defense state that the organizations are, or have become, the "arm" of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and that they obtained financial resources, which in practice reached the "[PFLP] terror activity" or supported their activities.

"There is no evidence presented to support these accusations, no information on the type of alleged "PFLP terror activity," nor has any public process been conducted to establish the allegations."

Meanwhile, Israel is sending an envoy to Washington to exchange intelligence information linking the six groups of Palestinian civil society to the PFLP.

The US administration claimed Israel did not notify it of the designation. Washington, Tel Aviv's most important ally, said it would engage with its Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations.

An Israeli senior security official told AFP that special envoys from the Shin Bet and Foreign Ministry would visit the US to present evidence linking the groups in question to the PFLP.

Among the groups designated "terrorist" are al-Haq, Defense of Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Addameer, the Bisan Center, the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

Furthermore, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Lynn Hastings, said she was concerned by the recent designations under the 2016 Anti-Terrorism Law and relevant allegations.

She warned that these designations add to increasing pressures on civil society organizations across the Palestinian Territories more broadly and have the potential to seriously undermine their humanitarian, development, and human rights work.

"In addressing this issue, I am engaging with the Israeli authorities to learn more about the allegations."

On Monday, UN experts called on the Jewish state to reverse its decision, describing it as a "direct attack on the Palestinian human rights movement."

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