by Jonathan Kuttab 18 Aug 2022 on Friends of Sabeel North America.
Last night, Israeli forces raided the offices of all six civil society organizations that it previously labelled as “terrorist organizations,” including Al Haq. Israel ransacked the offices and then sealed the doors by welding them shut. While Al Haq said nothing of theirs was taken, other NGOs had many of their belongings confiscated. On the doors were left notices declaring that each organization is a terrorist organization and, as such, are no longer allowed to operate. Hundreds of soldiers were involved in this operation and tear gassed everyone who approached the buildings.
The offices of all six organizations are in the midst of Area A, under the hypothetical control of the Palestinian Authority, and they are fully licensed under its laws and regulations. The offices of Al Haq are located on the campus of the St. Andrew’s Evangelical Episcopal Church in Ramallah. To reach the offices, Israeli forces would have needed to break through the church campus.
Al Haq is the premiere human rights organization in the West Bank. I am one of the founders of AL Haq and continue to serve on its Board of Trustees. It is a world-award winning organization known for its independence, professionalism, and courageous documentation of human rights violations committed by anyone, including the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas.
FOSNA is deeply concerned about these attacks and all attempts to silence civil society and cripple its activities. The military order closing the organizations emphasized that any association with the organizations, including funding them, constitutes a criminal activity.
However, ten European countries who examined the “secret evidence” presented by Israel against the organizations found such evidence unconvincing and resumed all funding to the organizations. Now, Israel is resorting to brute power to shut down these and other organizations. To label these organizations “terrorist” is to say that any documentation of or peaceful resistance to the Israeli occupation is illegal and will not be allowed.
A crowd of supporters broke open the doors again, and the staff of Al Haq defiantly resumed their work. Yet, they are now subject to arrest and extended jail terms.
FOSNA stands with Al Haq and calls on all people of goodwill, but most especially friends of Israel, to stand up for and defend the six organizations. Israel depends on the United States for military, economic, and diplomatic support. But, it cannot afford to ignore the views of the rest of the world. More importantly, Israel depends upon its friends abroad who are concerned over its well-being and security. Much of the goodwill Israel enjoys is based on the assumption that it is a democratic society that simply acts in defense of its security. But, its occupation and rule over the Palestinian people contributes neither to its security nor its well being. Israel cannot continue policies which the rest of the world considers illegitimate. It must not continue to ignore the voices of the many who demand that Israel rescind its unjust declarations and permit civil society to carry out its proper functions in Palestinian society.
Use our link below to easily email your representatives about your concern over last night’s raids and all attempts to silence civil society and cripple its activities.