‘Like an execution’: Palestinian NGOs detail Israeli crackdown

(Photo: AFP)

GENEVA, Switzerland — Israel’s decision to outlaw several Palestinian rights groups as terrorist organizations was “like an execution” designed to stop them from probing abuses, the head of one of the bodies told UN investigators on Monday.اضافة اعلان

Israel last year designated six Palestinian civil society groups as “terrorist” bodies and ordered them shuttered, sparking widespread international outrage.

It was the focus of a first series of public hearings hosted by a high-level team of investigators appointed last year by the UN Human Rights Council.

The first week of hearings, which have been harshly criticized by Israel, will also address the killing in May of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

“In these proceedings, we are not drawing any conclusions or making any judgments,” lead investigator Navi Pillay, a former UN rights chief from South Africa, told the gathering via video link.

Shawan Jabarin, the head of legal-aid human rights group Al-Haq, was the first to take the floor.

He charged that the “terrorist” designation in October had come after a years-long smear campaign against his organization, including efforts to get backers to drop their support, as well as death threats against him and other colleagues.

The designation, which he said was justified with “a secret file”, was “like an execution”, aimed at halting his organization from examining a vast array of rights abuses.

“We will not stop. Yes, they can they can detain us, they can arrest us, they can put us in prisons, they can kill us ... but they can’t change our beliefs. ... We will continue fighting against the culture and the policy of impunity.”

Although not unprecedented, it is unusual for UN investigative teams to hold public hearings with witnesses.

But in this case, the investigators had determined it was important to be as transparent as possible as they conduct their work to mitigate accusations of bias.

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