UN experts condemn Israeli arrests and judicial harassment of 8 activists in occupied Palestine and Israel
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva: 3 October 2021
UN human rights experts have condemned the arrests, judicial harassment, criminalization and threats against 8 human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel.
Arrest, harassment and threats:
The experts stated in their memo sent to Israeli authorities on August 3, 2021, which has not yet been answered, that the harassment and arrests affected:
– Farid al-Atrash, a human rights defender and lawyer at the Independent Commission for Human Rights, (ICHR) and currently the Director of the Office of the ICHR in the southern West Bank.
– Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian-French human rights defender, and a lawyer at Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
-Muna Al-Kurd and her brother Mohammad Al-Kurd, two human rights defenders, are at risk of forced eviction -and their family- from Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem.
– Zuhair al-Rajabi, a human rights defender and head of the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood committee in Silwan village.
– Shatha Odeh, a human rights defender and director of the Health Work Committee.
– Juana Ruiz Sanchez, human rights defender and former project coordinator for the Health Work Committee.
– Tayseer Abu Sharbak, a human rights defender and accountant in the Health Work Committee.
The actions are part of a broad Israeli crackdown:
The experts expressed their deep concern about the targeting of Palestinian human rights defenders and arbitrary arrests, which in these cases appear to be linked to their peaceful human rights work, and that all these practices by the Israeli authorities are part of a broader campaign of repression launched by the Israeli authorities against human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and is used as a tool to hinder their peaceful human rights work in the country.
The experts condemned the arrest of Al-Atrash, the arrest and interrogation of Mona Al-Kurd and her brother Muhammad Al-Kurd, the attempts to revoke Hammouri’s residency, and the targeting of Palestinian human rights defenders and members of the Health Work Committee, who appear to be detained as a result of their human rights work in the West Bank. Their concern is that Sanchez has been arrested, and that Odeh is being held in Hasharon Prison in Israel, which is a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention that prohibits the transfer of prisoners outside their lands.
Silencing dissents has a negative effect:
The experts further noted that the forced evictions in East Jerusalem neighborhoods highlight the institutionalized Israeli oppression against Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and that attempts to silence dissenting voices speaking out against human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, in particular against forced displacement, is extremely worrying and will have a negative impact on the ability of human rights defenders in the area to carry out their work for fear of reprisals.
The experts also expressed concerns about the alleged restrictions placed on these human rights defenders’ access to lawyers and families, the deteriorating health condition of Odeh, particularly in light of allegations related to her lack of access to vital medical care and unsanitary prison conditions, and the possible exposure of detained women human rights defenders to sexual assault and abuse in their current and former places of detention, and depriving them of their right to health, including their sexual and reproductive rights.
UN demands from the Israeli authorities:
The experts asked the Israeli authorities to provide the factual and legal basis for the arrest of human rights defender Farid al-Atrash, explain how this is in accordance with international law, and provide information on his current health condition, and whether he received adequate health care required while in detention.
The experts also called on Israel to clarify the reasons behind the intended revocation of the permanent residence of Salah Hammouri in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and how this is in line with international human rights law.
The experts also demanded clarification of the factual and legal bases for the arrest of Mona Al-Kurd and her brother Muhammad Al-Kurd, the reason for their arrest, and their prevention from contacting their lawyers during interrogation. An explanation of the reasons behind the arrest of Zuhair al-Rajabi, the factual and legal bases for the arrest of Shatha Odeh, Juana Ruiz Sanchez, and Tayseer Abu Sharbak, and how this is consistent with international human rights law.
It also called on the experts to provide information on the factual causes and the legal basis for the raids that took place at the home of the Al-Kurd family in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, as well as in the Odeh home, and to clarify the reason why Shatha Odeh was denied access to the medicines needed while in detention, she was not allowed to change her clothes for several days after her arrest, as well as explaining why a trial was conducted in Hebrew, and how her right to a fair trial was guaranteed despite the language barrier.
At the conclusion of their memorandum, the experts stressed the need for Israel to state the measures that have been taken to ensure that human rights defenders on its territory and the Occupied Palestinian Territory are able to carry out their peaceful and legitimate work in a safe and enabling environment without fear of threats or acts of intimidation and harassment of any person.