AMMAN: Condemnation is pouring in from around the world following Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s decision to declare six Palestinian human rights groups as “organizations of terror.”
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement calling the Israeli decision a “brazen” attack and a “shocking assault” on human rights.
Al-Haq, the Palestinian chapter of the Geneva-based International Center of Jurists working in Palestine since 1979, issued a statement saying that it was no coincidence that the escalation of punitive measures followed the opening of an International Criminal Court investigation into Israeli’s crimes in Palestine.
Al-Haq stated that it would “tirelessly maintain” its efforts to ensure that Israeli perpetrators of mass atrocity crimes were held accountable. The Global Network on the Question of Palestine expressed solidarity with the targeted organizations.
“To Addameer, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International - Palestine, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and Union of Palestine Women Committees, we say: “You are not alone. Your cause is our cause, your freedom is our freedom.”
Anis Kassem, editor of the Palestine Yearbook of International Law, told Arab News that Israeli accusations against Palestinian human rights groups were part of the policy of the occupiers.
“The Israeli occupiers are not able to accept any criticism to its cruelty.”
Diana Buttu, former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team, told Arab News that the Israeli action was part of a decade-long policy by the Israeli government to criminalize any form of Palestinian opposition to its military rule.
“What they are doing is illegal and this is what apartheid regimes do.”
Ali Abunimah, executive director of The Electronic Intifada, told Arab News that the primary responsibility lies with the US, EU and Arab regimes who have “coddled and pampered” Israel — no matter how it treats Palestinians.
“Why shouldn’t Israel take this egregious step when it knows that it will suffer no consequences and only receive more rewards from all these complicit actors?” said Abunimah, author of the “Battle for Justice in Palestine.”
Sami Abou Shahadeh, a member of the Israeli Knesset, told Arab News that the occupation was the true terror.
Al-Haq, Addameer, and other Palestinian human rights organizations are struggling for justice and against the biggest terror, which is the Israeli occupation.
Nazareth-based lawyer Botrus Mansour told Arab News that it was absurd that Israel had declared organizations that exposed its own illegal human rights violations were terrorist organizations.
“International law and international judicial systems must supersede local government decisions, must investigate the laws of these countries, especially those countries who violate human rights.”
Mofid Deak, a former US diplomat, told Arab News that Israel had never wanted an independent professional human rights group in the Palestinian areas with relations with Israeli groups and international connections.
Deak said that that he expected “the US will response more forcefully once they get all the details of this case.”
Edo Konrad, editor of +972, a magazine published in Israel-Palestine, told Arab News that Israel has “declared war” against human rights defenders everywhere.
“Israel is shrinking the ability of Palestinians to tell the world about their own brutalization and colonization.”
Palestinians are concerned that directors and staff of these reputable organizations might face the same fate as that of detainee Mohammed El-Halabi.
Khalil Al-Halabi from Gaza told Arab News that his son — a humanitarian worker with World Vision — has been in jail since 2016 on unproven charges of diverting humanitarian aid to Hamas.
“My son is still in jail because he refused to accept an Israeli plea offer in which he would admit to a lesser charge and be free.”