RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) – Several human rights groups have called for ending Israel’s apartheid regime in the Palestinian territories.
In a press conference held in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday, the rights groups termed last month’s Israeli raids on Palestinian NGOs “an attempt to further silence the Palestinians.”
The NGOs emphasized their support to their Palestinian partners “against the abusive occupation and the apartheid regime.”
On Aug. 18, Israeli forces closed the offices of seven Palestinian NGOs in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh.
The NGOs are: Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan Research and Development Center, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Defense for Children Palestine and the Health work Committee.
The Israeli Defense Ministry had listed some of the NGOs as terrorist organizations last year.
Israeli authorities have not given any compelling evidence to UN agencies to support their claim against Palestinian NGOs.
Wednesday’s press conference was attended by representatives of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
Amnesty representative Nathalie Godard considered the Palestinian NGOs blacklisted by Israel as “the frontlines for defending human rights.”
“The repression of Palestinian civic space is part of the system of apartheid. Not only are Palestinians under Israeli military occupation, conducted with manifold violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, but then also those organizations and human rights defenders who seek to assist people in need, are shut down,” Godard said.
“Amnesty calls on Israel to revoke the ‘terrorism’ designation for the organizations and cancel the military orders closing the organizations’ offices,” she added. “The organizations’ staff and directors should be allowed to do their human rights, social welfare, and research work free from harassment.”