Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has issued a military order which designates six leading Palestinian legal and human rights groups as “terrorist” organisations. The government of Israel has declined to back its orders with evidence.
The order criminalises lawyers who provide legal aid, and observers who inform the world of human rights abuses: Addameer, Al-Haq, Palestine branch of Defence of Children International, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Bisan Center for Research & Development.
On the websites of the targeted organisations, you will learn about incarcerations, documented human rights violations, the imprisonment of children, aid to farmers in the West Bank. To prevent the sharing of such information, the Israeli government will now fight these activities as if they were fighting terrorists.
Leading global human rights organisations have objected in the strongest terms. They clearly state that they will continue to work with their Palestinian colleagues: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch call it “an attack on the human rights movement” while B’Tselem calls it “a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work.”
Alternative Jewish Voices calls this military order the contemptible act of an authoritarian. This order would jeopardise the funding which creates factual information about Palestinian life under Israel’s occupation. The order poses a new level of violent threat to the defenders of human and legal rights. If we do not defuse that threat internationally, it will set a frightening precedent for all of the people who stand up to authoritarians around the world.
Israel’s military order extends its pattern of criminalising any resistance to its regime of occupation, de facto annexation and legislated apartheid.
Members of Israel’s government refer to boycotts – the non-violent exercise of economic choice – as economic terrorism. Israel’s President called Ben and Jerry’s decision not to sell ice cream on occupied land as “a new kind of terrorism.” Around the same time, Israel confiscated 23 tons of chocolate bars destined for Gaza with the explanation, “We will continue to hunt down networks that fund terror.”
There seems to be no form of resistance that Israel won’t categorise as terroristic. This new military order will criminalise even the use of the law. In occupied Palestine, it appears that resistance will be treated as terror, period.
We urge the government of Aotearoa-New Zealand to take the recent advice of Ban Ki Moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations, and change our yawning diplomatic stance:
“a powerful state is controlling another people through an open-ended occupation, settling its own people on the land in violation of international law and enforcing a legal regime of institutionalised discrimination… What has become increasingly clear in recent years is Israel’s intent to maintain its structural domination and oppression of the Palestinian people through indefinite occupation… resulting in a situation that arguably constitutes apartheid. It is now time for the international community to recognise and confront the consequences of Israel’s policies and actions in this regard.”
When will we defend the people who defend the law and human rights?
October 26, 2021