ICJ denounces Israeli’s labelling of Palestinian rights groups as ‘terrorists’

ICJ denounces Israeli’s labelling of Palestinian rights groups as ‘terrorists’

The International Commission of Jurists (“ICJ”) has said it stands in solidarity with Al-Haq and five other Palestinian civil society organizations formally designated as “terrorist organizations” on by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz. 

On October 19, Israel issued a military order designating six prominent Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorist organisations”, in a move swiftly condemned by the Palestinian Authority, rights groups, and the United Nations.

The ICJ holds that Gantz acted based on the unfounded and unproven allegation that the six groups “belong [to] and constitute an arm of the organization[al] leadership” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF).

Israel claimed that the groups were linked to the PFLP, a left-wing movement with a political party, as well as an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. The ministry said the humanitarian groups “constitute a network of organisations active undercover on the international front on behalf of the Popular Front, controlled by senior leaders of the PFLP and employ its members, including some who had “participated in terror activity. It also accused the groups of serving as a “central source” of financing for the PFLP and of having received “large sums of money from European countries and international organisations,” without elaborating. 

ICJ has called upon the Israeli authorities to immediately rescind these designations of Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defence for Children International – Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committee, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

Shawan Jabarin, director of the al-Haq human rights group, at the organization’s offices in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Israel on Friday, Oct. 22, declared six prominent Palestinian human rights groups to be terrorist organizations, saying they were secretly linked to a left-wing militant movement. It was not immediately clear what the distinction would mean for the groups, most of which also protest rights violations by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

“The Israeli government’s designation carries with it the risk of serious legal consequences against Al-Haq and its staff. Al-Haq staff members could be subject to prosecution and imprisonment, and its assets at risk of confiscation. If carried out, such actions would amount to persecution,” read a statement by ICJ secretary general Sam Zarifi.

Al-Haq and other civil society organizations have conducted extensive research, documented and seeking accountability for the serious crimes under international law committed in the context of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, including before the International Criminal Court, which some see at the reason for their labelling. 

In particular, Al-Haq, which was founded in the West Bank as an affiliate of the ICJ and the first human rights organization in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), has championed the rule of law and human rights in the OPT, documenting serious violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law by the Israeli authorities, as well as violations by Palestinian authorities, supporting victims, and pursuing accountability. 

The ICJ maintains that the process that led to these designations does not comply with international standards of due process or fair trial. As it is, Israel’s evidence the designation is based on remains secret, due to supposed national security considerations. 

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