Ramallah, February 3, 2022—Today, Defense for Children International - Palestine joined other leading Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations to file a procedural objection to the decision by Israeli military authorities declaring DCIP and other groups “unlawful associations.”
The objection demands the immediate cancelation of an Israeli military order declaring DCIP and other leading Palestinian human rights and civil society groups “unlawful associations” pursuant to the 1945 Emergency (Defense) Regulations. It emphasizes that the Israeli authorities’ declaration amounts to a blatant and serious violation of international law, including denial of due process and fair trial guarantees by relying on alleged “secret evidence” in Israeli military courts that are neither independent nor impartial.
“We reject the Israeli authorities’ designation of DCIP as a terrorist organization,” said Khaled Quzmar, general director at DCIP. “After years of delegitimization and disinformation campaigns against us have failed to silence our work, Israeli authorities have escalated their repressive tactics by labeling civil society organizations as terrorists.”
The objection was jointly submitted by the Adalah Legal Center and the offices of Attorney Michael Sfard and Attorney Jawad Boulus on behalf of DCIP, Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees. This objection follows repeated refusals by Israeli authorities to reveal the alleged “evidence” against DCIP and the other organizations.
On October 19, 2021, the Israeli Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, signed an order designating DCIP and five other Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations as “terrorist organizations,” which effectively criminalized and banned their activities within Israel. Two weeks later, on November 3, 2021, Israel’s Chief Military Commander in the West Bank declared DCIP and the five other organizations to be “unlawful associations” in the occupied West Bank under Israeli military law.
Government and United Nations officials, including human rights experts, condemned the designation and called upon Israeli authorities to reverse the designation immediately and cease efforts to criminalize human rights work. Many solidarity statements were issued by trade unions, academics, editorial boards, human rights and development organizations, celebrities and artists, and individuals.
Israeli, Palestinian, and international human rights and humanitarian organizations face an increasingly difficult operating environment and shrinking civic space in Israel and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Recent attempts to delegitimize humanitarian and human rights organizations operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular, have been on the rise in recent years, negatively impacting their ability to deliver assistance and advocate on behalf of Palestinian human rights.
Delegitimization attempts and disinformation have been advanced by a network of rising nationalist Israeli civil society organizations and associated organizations elsewhere, with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These efforts take the form of targeted and organized defamation campaigns based on a range of allegations related to the violation of counter-terrorism legislation and international law. In most cases, if not all, these allegations are erroneous, misrepresent, and distort critical factual or legal elements.
Previously, in July 2021, Israeli paramilitary border police forces raided DCIP’s headquarters located in Al-Bireh’s Sateh Marhaba neighborhood, located just south of Ramallah around 5:15 a.m. More than a dozen Israeli soldiers forced open the office’s locked front door and confiscated six desktop computers, two laptops, hard drives, and client files related to Palestinian child detainees represented by DCIP’s lawyers in Israel’s military courts. No documents were left in the office to give any indication of the reason for the raid, and they did not leave behind any receipt of materials seized.
“Despite Israeli efforts to silence us, we resolve to continue defending Palestinian children and exposing grave violations inherent in Israel’s military occupation of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” added Quzmar.