By the side of our Palestinian partners

On 22 October 2021, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz announced his decision to classify six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist groups, effective immediately.

Gantz called on the international community to cease all support for the organisations and avoid contact with them. This decision follows the occupation's decades-long logic of criminalising those parts of Palestinian society that are organized in political bodies or civil society and that refuse to be co-opted and continue to stand up to settlement policies and human rights abuses. All the organisations concerned have been subject to attacks by the Israeli right and parts of the government for years. The Israeli government is also putting increasing pressure on international donors to stop funding the work of these Palestinian organisations.

However, the accusations of terrorism have never been proven. Earlier investigations by, among others, the Australian government from October 2012, in which, apart from AusAID as a donor, the Australian Govt. Solicitor, the DFAT Sanctions & Transnational Crime Division, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security & Intelligence Organisation were involved, could not find any evidence to support the Israeli government's allegations.

Defence Minister Gantz's latest decision is based on military law. Alleged evidence is kept secret. In this way, the Israeli government creates a form of a reversed burden of proof. It is not the accusations that have to be proven, but the innocence of those accused.

The Israeli government's decision is also directed against two medico partner organisations: The Union of Agricultural Work Committees, with whom we have been working for Palestinian land and water rights for years, and the human rights organisation Al-Haq, which we recently supported in documenting human rights violations by armed forces of the Palestinian Authority.

Apart from our serious fear for our Palestinian colleagues, whose options to perform their work are to be further restricted with this decision and who are threatened with arbitrary arrest, we consider Gantz's decision an escalation to cement Israeli domination in the occupied Palestinian territories and to rally international political support for this with the "accusation of terror". medico international strongly opposes the criminalisation of work for Palestinian human rights.

Published: 23. October 2021

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