Thursday, 18th of August 2022.
The Israeli occupying forces raided the offices of Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Al-Haq, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), the Health Work Committees, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) damaging and confiscating materials and equipment, sealing their doors and leaving a military order declaring the organizations “illegal.”
PNGO rejects the incursions that took place, in which we believe that it does not only target civil organizations, but rather falls within the framework of open aggression against all Palestinian people, and it is an open policy aimed to break the will of civic action and prevent it from continuing its role promoting human rights and essential humanitarian and development services.
The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders which was adopted by consensus by the General Assembly in 1998 (A/RES/53/144) identifies human rights defenders as “individuals or groups who act to promote, protect or strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means.” Whereby all the organizations that were raided and closed down are defenders of human rights and Palestinians’ rights, have the right to seek the protection and realization of human rights at the national and international levels; to conduct human rights work individually and in association with others; to form associations and non-governmental organizations; and to meet or assemble peacefully.
Palestinian CSOs continue to face decisive and systematic clampdown, severe restrictions on the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, all of which contribute to the closing of an already shrinking civic space. Such unlawful acts are being used to silence Palestinian human rights defenders, journalists and civil society representatives.
Israel has long sought to threaten, repress, defund and defame the work of Palestinian CSOs and human rights defenders working to end Israeli impunity. These Israeli attacks against Palestinian CSOs aimed at delegitimizing and stigmatizing CSOs constitute grave violation of the right to free association and expression, the right to freedom of expression enriched under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and violation of Articles 10, 11 and 18 of The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders outlining responsibilities for everyone to promote human rights, to safeguard democracy and its institutions and prevent violations of human rights of others. Whereby these violations go beyond the impact on the organizations and human rights themselves, and potentially have far-reaching negative consequences for the democratic
functioning of our societies. As a result, it is critical that the international community recognizes the role and importance of civil society, publicly supports it, and holds Israel accountable for its crimes.
These blatant breaches try to withhold Palestinian Human Rights Defenders, civil society organizations and their support to pursue their right to defend and express, making it of utmost difficulty to promote human rights and show the world what being under Israeli occupation is like, and to expose their unlawful daily acts to the public.
PNGO affirms the continuation of its work and the work of its member organizations in rejection of the occupation policy. These institutions operate in accordance with Palestinian law and are located in areas under Palestinian sovereignty in the heart of Palestinian cities. The international community, including its governments, citizens, and civil society organizations, bears a moral and legal obligation to prevent Israel’s violations. By attempting to prohibit these organizations from operating, the international community impedes the monitoring of human rights violations and the protection of open and just societies that fully respect fundamental freedoms.