Palestinian CSOs draw attention to plight of human rights defenders

On 12th December, to mark International Human Rights Defenders Day, Palestinian civil society organisations came together and issued a joint call for protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) working on issues related to Palestine. Fifteen organisations endorsed a statement drawing attention to the plight of Palestine's embattled HRDs. In the statement, the organisations noted that HRDs operating in Palestine use a variety of non-violent methods to document human rights violations by the Israeli authorities, and to seek accountability for the perpetrators of violation. However, even these non-violent means are often met with acts of suppression and harassment by Israeli authorities.

The statement higlights several restrictions on civic space, including that weekly peaceful protests throughout the West Bank are routinely met with force by the Israeli military. Human rights defenders seeking to monitor and document human rights violations have their freedom of movement and access obstructed, and are further at risk of arrest and detention because of their work. Palestinian human rights organisations providing submissions to the International Criminal Court (ICC) during its preliminary examination have faced even more extreme targeting. Staff members at Palestinian organisations Al-Haq and Al-Mezan have received death threats, and have also been the targets of a wider campaign that attempt to discredit and destabilise the organisations.