UN calls on the Israeli authorities to protect human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian territories and within its borders
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva, 11 August 2021
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor, has expressed concern about the arrests, harassment, criminalization and threats against human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, calling on Israel to ensure the protection of all Palestinian human rights defenders.
Part of a broader crackdown:
In a statement published by the Media Center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Lawlor said: “Arrests and raids on the homes of Palestinian human right defenders form part of a wider crackdown against those defending the human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
The UN rapporteur added that she was concerned about the arbitrary arrest and detention of Farid al-Atrash, a human rights defender and lawyer at the Independent Commission for Human Rights, who was arrested by Israeli military forces after his peaceful participation in a demonstration in Bethlehem on June 15, and was released on bail eight days later.
UN concerns about forced deportation in Jerusalem:
Lawlor also expressed her concern about the forced deportation of Palestinians living in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in Jerusalem, saying:
“Muna Al-Kurd, Mohammed Al-Kurd and Zuhair Al Rajabi, human rights defenders at the forefront of protecting their communities against forced displacement, have been arrested and interrogated.”
She cited the situation of Salah Hammouri, the French-Palestinian human rights defender and lawyer at the Addameer Foundation for Prisoner Support and Human Rights, who is also at risk of having his permanent residence permit canceled in Jerusalem.
“I am shocked that members of the Health Work Committee, who provide health services to Palestinians living in remote areas of the West Bank, were arrested, interrogated and may be criminalised because of their human rights work,” Lawlor added.
Stop targeting human rights defenders:
The UN rapporteur called on the Israeli authorities to release the three human rights defenders immediately, and also urged the authorities to investigate allegations of ill-treatment against the two human rights defenders.
Lawlor also stressed the importance of protecting Palestinian human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly those who protect the rights of their communities to housing, health care and freedom of assembly and association, saying: “I call on the authorities to stop targeting these human rights defenders and allow them to carry out their legitimate and peaceful work free from any kind of restrictions.”