Twenty-four UN-appointed independent human rights experts condemned on Wednesday, Israel’s escalating attacks against Palestinian civil society in the occupied West Bank, describing it as “illegal and unacceptable”.
During a raid last week, the Israeli army broke into and shut down the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and humanitarian groups operating in Ramallah, located in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).
“These actions amount to severe suppression of human rights defenders and are illegal and unacceptable,” the experts said, encouraging UN Member States to use international law to end the abuses.
Last Thursday at dawn, Israeli forces raided the offices of seven Palestinian human rights groups causing extensive property damage and issuing military orders to shut them down.
This followed Israel’s earlier characterization of those organizations as “terrorist” and “unlawful”.
“These designations and declarations are illegitimate and unjustifiable and no concrete and credible evidence substantiating Israel’s allegations has ever been provided,” said the experts, echoing observations that they had made in April.
On 18 and 21 August, Israeli security service Shin Bet interrogated the directors of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Al-Haq and Defence for Children-Palestine – three of the seven shuttered organizations.
The experts were particularly concerned over alleged threats made by Shin Bet against the organizations, including a public statement regarding Al-Haq’s director, Shawan Jabarin.
“The Israeli Government has taken multiple measures to undermine civil society organiz