Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have vehemently condemned the decision of the Israeli Minister of “Defense” declaring six Palestinian civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to be “terrorist organizations.”
The six groups are Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees. The designation, made pursuant to a 2016 Israeli statute, effectively outlaws the activities of these civil society groups.
The decision also authorizes Israeli occupation authorities to close their offices, seize their assets and arrest and jail their staff members, and it prohibits funding or even publicly expressing support for their activities.
“This appalling and unjust decision is 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 criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians,” said HRW and Amnesty International in a joint statement.
The statement added, “This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.”
HRW and Amnesty International continued, “How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders.”
“We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision.”