August 18, 2022, New York – In response to Israel’s overnight military raids of the offices of several prominent Palestinian human rights organizations in Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian territory, in which Israeli occupying forces sealed shut their doors, taped notices ordering them closed, and seized computers and other confidential materials, the Center for Constitutional Rights issues the following statement:
Today’s physical assault by Israeli occupying forces on the offices and property of prominent Palestinian civil society organizations must be urgently condemned by the Biden administration in the strongest terms, with concrete actions in response to the criminalization of human rights defenders to follow. Israeli authorities designated these six Palestinian civil society organizations as “terrorists” in October of last year. Since then, states and donors that have reviewed the evidence alleged to support the Israeli designation have found it baseless and, along with U.N. officials, bar associations, and local and global civil society, have issued statements affirming their support of the Palestinian organizations. Just last month, nine European member states officially rejected the Israeli designations and affirmed that they would continue working with the six groups.
In the face of this absolute dismissal by the international community, Israeli authorities again escalated their attacks on Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders. Having failed to cut off international support with unsubstantiated “terrorist” smears and having failed to halt the critical work of the six organizations – documenting Israel's human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, representing detained Palestinian children, supporting political prisoners, and advocating for workers’ rights and women’s equality – Israel, as a belligerent occupying power, today sought to physically block their operations.
Such an escalation would not have been possible had the Biden administration been forceful in its rebuke of Israel’s assault on human rights when it first designated the groups in October 2021, and in the interim, despite repeated efforts by the six organizations and human rights advocates to appeal to the administration. In October 2021, 304 U.S.-based social justice, civil rights, and human rights groups wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the U.S. to protect the six organizations. They were met with silence. On July 18, 2022, Representative Ayanna Presley led a Congressional call to the administration denouncing this “deeply repressive measure” against “essential” Palestinian organizations and demanding action. It is imperative that President Biden and the U.S. State Department act decisively to ensure the rights to freedom of expression and association and, more than ever, offer explicit and concrete support for the crucial human rights and advocacy work undertaken by Palestinians as they resist Israel’s brutal military occupation and apartheid regime.
The Center for Constitutional Rights continues to proudly #StandWithTheSix.
The six Palestinian organizations are: Defense for Children International - Palestine, Al Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees. The Health Work Committee (HWC) and a church, which share offices with the Palestinian organizations were also raided, with HWC receiving a similar notice of closure.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.