JERUSALEM (AP) — Investigators commissioned by the UN’s top human rights body on Thursday accused Israel of “delegitimizing and silencing civil society” by banning Palestinian human rights groups. man and calling their members “terrorists”.
The findings are included in the annual report of the Human Rights Council’s “Commission of Inquiry”. The commission, led by a team of three human rights experts, was established in 2021 following an 11-day war between Israel and the militant group Hamas in Gaza. Israel accuses the rights council and commission of being unfairly biased.
The report also accuses Hamas and the rival Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank of committing rights abuses. But he said most of the violations he uncovered were committed by Israel as part of a campaign he said aims to “secure and enshrine its permanent occupation at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people”.
Former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, who heads the commission, accused Israeli and Palestinian authorities of “limiting the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful association”.
“We were particularly alarmed by the situation of Palestinian human rights defenders, who are routinely subjected to a series of punitive measures under the occupation regime,” she said.
In 2020 and 2021, Israel designated seven Palestinian rights groups as terrorist groups, effectively banning them. Later he raided and closed some of their offices.
Israel says the groups are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – a left-wing secular movement with a political party as well as an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. Israel and its Western allies consider the PFLP to be a terrorist organization.
Rights groups deny any connection to the PFLP, and a number of European nations have dismissed Israeli claims, citing a lack of evidence.
Thursday’s report said Israel’s crackdown on the groups was “unwarranted and violated fundamental human rights, including the rights to freedom of association, expression, opinion, peaceful assembly, privacy and the right to a fair trial”.
It also targeted Israel’s deportation of a Palestinian human rights activist last year from East Jerusalem to France. Israel has accused the activist, Salah Hammouri, of belonging to the PFLP.
Chris Sidoti, a member of the commission, said there was “no doubt” that the deportation “constitutes a war crime”.
In a statement issued by its UN mission in Geneva, Israel rejected the report’s findings.
“The Commission of Inquiry against Israel has no legitimacy. It never was,” he said.
He accused the commission members of having “pre-existing biased biases” and compared the commission’s public hearings to gather information for the report to “kangaroo trials”.
“Israel has a robust and independent civil society which is made up of thousands of NGOs, human rights defenders, national and international media, which can operate freely throughout the year,” he said. he declares.
The commission is the first to have a “permanent” mandate from the UN human rights body. Critics say his annual scrutiny of Israel demonstrates an anti-Israel bias within the council of 47 member states and other UN bodies.
Last year, Israel, the United States and Britain accused one of the commissioners, Miloon Kothari, of making anti-Semitic remarks while questioning Israel’s right to be a member of the UN and alluding to a “Jewish lobby”. Kothari later apologized.
Supporters say the commission is needed to keep tabs on the continuing injustices faced by Palestinians under decades of Israeli rule.
In the report, the commission also criticized rival Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza, accusing them of targeting human rights activists “in a bid to silence dissenting views”.
He said authorities in both regions had forcibly shut down civil society activities.
“In Gaza, organizations seen as challenging the social, religious and political status quo have been particularly targeted,” he said.
In the West Bank, he said many activists had been arrested for protests and online activism and charged with defaming officials and participating in unlawful assemblies.
The Commission found that Palestinian security forces “regularly intimidate” activists and journalists “through threatening phone calls, cautionary interrogations or interviews, and arbitrary arrests and detentions”, it said.
He said he received reports of “torture and ill-treatment to punish and intimidate critics” in both Gaza and the West Bank.
“The frequency and severity, as well as the lack of accountability indicate that such cases are widespread in nature,” he said.
He accused Palestinian forces in the West Bank of stopping or allowing violence against LGBTQ+ people, and of using sexual and gender-based violence to silence women human rights defenders.
There was no immediate reaction from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or from Hamas in Gaza.
Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East War. The Palestinians claim all three areas for a future independent state.
Israel has annexed East Jerusalem in a step that is not internationally recognized and says the West Bank is disputed territory and its fate must be determined through negotiations. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
The international community overwhelmingly regards these three areas as occupied territories.