UN, AIDA urge Israel to allow Palestinian NGOs to work

United Nations agencies and the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory on Thursday urged Israel to allow Palestinian human rights and humanitarian organizations to continue their work.

The statement came after Israeli forces broke into and shut down the offices of seven civil society and human rights organisations.

Israel outlawed six of the organisations raided on Thursday as “terrorist” organisations in October 2021.

“Despite offers to review the allegations to determine if funds have been diverted, Israeli authorities have not given any compelling evidence to the United Nations Agencies nor its NGO partners working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to support these designations,” reads the statement by UN group.

“Several Member States recently announced that the evidence which was shared with them does not justify the designations.”

The seven organisations are Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq rights group, the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Palestine chapter of the Geneva-based Defence for Children International and Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC).

“After 10 European states rejected Israel’s declarations of the groups as ‘terrorist organizations’, as it was pronounced in the absence of any evidence, Israel continues to persecute Palestinian human rights and civil society groups with the clear aim of silencing them,” said Adalah, a Palestinian advocacy group, in a statement.

“We reiterate our November 2021 statement: counter-terrorism legislation must be in accordance with obligations under international law, in particular, international humanitarian law and human rights law, which include full respect for the rights to freedom of association and expression. It cannot be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian work; the breadth of the Israeli 2016 Anti-Terrorism legislation and its impact on the presumption of innocence present serious concerns under international law,” reads the statement.