Israel steps up on civil society: six Palestinian organizations closed

Image: Defense for Children International - Palestine | Facebook

August 18, 2022

In the early morning of august 18th the Israeli army carried out raids on six prominent Palestinian organizations. These organizations, including Al-Haq and Defense for Children Palestine, were labeled terrorist organizations by Israel last year. However, Israel provided no evidence for this and received wide international criticism. Despite this, Israel keeps fighting these organizations. During the raids, offices were ransacked, and equipment was confiscated, with doors welded shut and military orders left behind declaring the organizations illegal.

Years of repression and subversion 

Together with 31 other Dutch organizations, PAX previously condemned the Israeli decision to designate the six organizations as terrorist. The organizations work in fields such in fields such as human rights, prisoner support, children’s rights, and healthcare. The Israeli policy fits a longstanding pattern of repression and subversion of Palestinian organizations that document Israeli human rights violations. Anti-terrorism legislation is being misused to prevent the organizations from doing their job. Last weeks raid and military orders are another step to try and stop the legitimate work of the respected organizations. In addition to closing the offices, there is a greater risk that the employees will also be arrested.

The Netherlands must take action 

The Netherlands must stand up for human rights and, together with other European countries, contribute to the protection of endangered Palestinian organizations. Therefore action is required.

Last month, the Netherlands, together with other EU countries, spoke out against the Israeli accusations and indicated that there was no evidence to classify the organizations as terrorist. The Netherlands also indicated that it will continue to cooperate and that a free and strong civil society is indispensable. It is important that the Netherlands convert words into action to protect civil society. 

Therefore, PAX makes the following recommendations:

  • The Netherlands urges Israel at the highest diplomatic level to drop the charges against the 6 organizations and allow them to continue their work.
  • Since statements have not helped to stop the repression so far, the Netherlands must add (diplomatic) consequences to this step, for example by summoning the Israeli ambassador.
  • The Netherlands also takes measures at EU level with like-minded countries, such as the suspension of the EU-Israel association agreement or cooperation with Israel in EU programs such as the Horizon Program.
  • The Netherlands openly supports Palestinian organizations and civil society, financially, politically, and if necessary, logistically. It continues and id possible increases financial support.
  • The Netherlands asks the affected organizations how protection can be offered to the employees and how they can contribute to the continuation of their important work.

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