Since the Nakba (Palestinian catastrophe) that led to its establishment in 1948, Israel has progressively implemented an apartheid regime of discriminatory laws, policies and practices aimed at institutionalizing and normalizing its systematic subjugation, domination and exploitation of the Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line, as well as Palestinian refugees and exiles abroad, said a new report released by the Ramallah-based Al-Haq human right organization, one of six Palestinian rights and civil society groups Israel recently outlawed.
The report, “Designated Shrinking Space: Israel’s Systematic Harassment Campaigns Against Al-Haq, are the Acts of an Illegal Apartheid Regime”, said that in order to maintain its apartheid system, Israel has pursued a policy of systematic persecution of Palestinian civil society organizations that confront its apartheid laws, policies and practices. Such acts of persecution have included various forms of intimidation and institutionalized harassment ranging from death threats, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, collective punishment, travel bans, residency revocation, deportation, and Government-led smear campaigns, in an effort to shrink Palestinian civil society space.
In a latest bid to discredit and undermine the work of Palestinian civil society organizations, on 19 October, the Israeli “Defense” Minister Benny Gantz issued a military order designating Al- Haq - Law in the Service of Man; Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) as “terrorist organizations.”
The shrinking of the Palestinian civil society space to altogether discredit their image, efforts and initiatives, delegitimize and criminalize their actions, and cut their sources of funding, on both regional and international stages, is nothing new, but has been accelerating at a worrying pace over the last decade, said a press release. Israel governmental, para-governmental and affiliated entities have continued to orchestrate smear campaigns, threats and harassment measures against Palestinian organizations who promote a critical narrative, including of their own Palestinian leadership, and are involved in issues spanning from the Israeli occupation, annexation, apartheid and colonization of Palestinian lands, business and settlement activities, environmental and natural resources, political prisoners, asylum and refugees to accountability before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The overall strategy of Israel, its government and affiliates, is premised on the institutionalization of its regime of laws, policies and practices aimed at delegitimizing Palestinian dissenting voices, isolating them from the international and regional arenas, and effectively cutting their funding sources, said Al-Haq.
As the first and leading Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq’s work aims at supporting the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, justice and their right to self-determination, and has long been the preferred target of such attacks.
This brief provides an overview of past and recent attacks perpetrated by the Israeli government and its affiliates against Al-Haq, replacing them within the context of the shrinking space imposed on the Palestinian civil society as a whole. The brief further analyzes such attack through the lens of international human rights and argues that the persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders and critical voices is a main tenet of the maintenance of its apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and their lands.Source : Safa