Source: Pax Christi International
Pax Christi International stands in absolute solidarity with the seven leading Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations whose offices were violently raided, contents confiscated and office doors sealed in the early morning hours of August 18, 2022 .
We unequivocally condemn this physical aggression by Israel and join the international community in demanding that it be held accountable for its actions. Such repression and intimidation of respected civil society organizations must not be allowed.
Furthermore, the brazen destruction of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Ramallah by the Israeli occupying forces should be widely denounced, especially by religious leaders around the world. As a Catholic organization, Pax Christi International urges our Bishops in particular to support the Diocese of Jerusalem, which has called these attacks “a violation of international law and a terrorist act against the entire community.”
Six of the organizations, Addameer, Al-Haq, Defense of Children International-Palestine (DCIP), the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Agricultural Work Committee (UAWC) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) have were targeted last year by Israel when they were designated as terrorist organizations.
In the intervening months, states and donors reviewed the record provided by Israel and determined that these designations were completely warrantless. In July, nine European countries officially rejected Israeli designations having found “no substantial evidence”. They pledged to continue their “cooperation and strong support for civil society in the occupied Palestinian territories”. The lack of substantiated evidence should have led the international community to demand that Israel immediately rescind its designation of these organizations as “terrorists” and reintegrate them into the vital network of civil society organizations.
In the absence of a substantial response, Israel has grown bolder and seems increasingly determined to criminalize and silence these organizations and cease their critical work of monitoring and documenting human rights abuses. By undermining their ability to report such violations to international bodies such as the International Criminal Court and by hindering their partnership with other civil society and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and B ‘Tselem, Israel poses an existential threat to Palestinian civil society. society.
As Khaled Quzmar, Director General of DCIP poignantly put it, “Our human rights documentation and evidence-based advocacy exposing grave violations by Israeli forces against Palestinian children have made us a target of the Israeli government for years.” Isn’t it time for the international community to ask itself: when will Israel consider the moral and ethical dimensions of its policies and actions towards the Palestinian people, rather than shielding itself behind a self-established legal framework?
Pax Christi International supports all non-violent measures to end the occupation and find a just solution that guarantees the rights and dignity of all parties. We believe that this unprovoked and aggressive retaliation by Israel in demonizing such legitimate and respected human rights and civil society organizations undermines any effort to achieve a just peace.