Hadash lawmakers, the head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh, Ofer Cassif and Aida Touma-Sliman – asked on Tuesday the European Union to take action against Israel. In a letter they wrote to EU ambassadors in Israel, they noted that Article 2 of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement, which helps govern EU-Israel ties, is based “on respect for human rights and democratic principles.” Israel, the Hadash MKs wrote, is “clearly violating the spirit and binding stipulations of the agreement, yet the EU has thus far failed to hold Israel accountable.”
Al-Haq General Director Shawan Jabarin (Photo: Al-Haq)
On Monday, EU Ambassador Dimiter Tzantchev and diplomats from 18 European countries demanded answers from the Israeli Foreign Ministry about last week occupation army raid of the offices of seven Palestinian non-governmental organizations Israel has classified as “terror groups”. The meeting was “to raise our deep concerns over the raids on the Palestinian civil society organizations last week,” Tzantchev tweeted after Monday’s meeting with Israeli officials. “These actions are not acceptable,” he said, adding that “the EU is a firm supporter of free and strong civil society.”
Human rights organizations and NGOs in Israel and abroad have joined together to issue statements against the raid, which is viewed as an attempt by Israel to suppress Palestinian civic society. A group of 150 international organizations called on the international community to “take all necessary action to support and protect Palestinian human rights defenders and ensure the continuation of their invaluable work.”
A group of 46 Israeli NGOs called on the government on Monday to reverse the terror designation, stating that, “defense of human rights is not terrorism. We repudiate these baseless declarations and call on the international community to pressure Israel to revoke its decision.” “These declarations are baseless. Indeed, the U.S. Administration, the European Union and other allies of Israel found Israel’s allegations unconvincing. After thoroughly examining the material Israel provided them, all of the European countries that are donors to these organizations decided to continue their support. Documentation, advocacy and legal aid are the core of human rights work around the world. Criminalizing such activity is a deplorable act characteristic of repressive regimes. We stand in solidarity with our fellow human rights defenders in Palestinian society. We repudiate these baseless declarations and call on the international community to pressure Israel to revoke its decision,” they said.
Among the subscribers: Academia for Equality, ACAP – The Arab Center for Alternative Planning, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Akevot Institute, Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Combatants for Peace, Emek Shaveh, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Ir Amim, Itach-Ma’aki – Women Lawyers for Social Justice, Machsom Watch, Mesarvot, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, Peace Now, Physicians for Human Rights, Rabbis for Human Rights, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, The Parents Circle – Families Forum, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights and Yesh-Gvul.
On Monday, one of the seven NGOs, Al-Haq, sent a letter to 80 nations asking for help. It noted it particular that its General Director Shawan Jabarin and Defense for Children International – Palestine Director-General Khaled Quzmar were under threat of arrest. Quzmar was questioned by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for two hours on Sunday and then released, Al-Haq said, adding that on that same day, Jabarin had received a call threatening him with imprisonment.