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UN says Israeli government-backed groups ‘delegitimizing’ human rights NGOs

Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians with plastic bullets during a protest after Israeli forces made raid on houses and shops in Ramallah, West Bank on January 7, 2019. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )
Israeli forces intervene in Palestinians with plastic bullets during a protest after Israeli forces made raid on houses and shops in Ramallah, West Bank on January 7, 2019. ( Issam Rimawi - Anadolu Agency )

A United Nations agency has stated humanitarian operations in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are being “undermined by delegitimization, access restrictions, and administrative constraints”.

According to UN OCHA, “attempts to delegitimize humanitarian and human rights organizations operating in the oPt, particularly NGOs, have been on the rise in recent years”.

This has had “a negative impact on the ability of these organisations to deliver assistance and advocate on behalf of Palestinian rights”, the agency added.

The situation is “further compounded by longstanding access restrictions imposed on humanitarian staff and operations, restrictive legislation and attacks on human rights defenders”, UN OCHA said.

UN OCHA believes that “the bulk of the delegitimization attempts have been advanced by a network of Israeli civil society groups and some associated organizations elsewhere, with the apparent support of the Israeli government”.

READ: Humanitarian aid is overtly politicised, just not in favour of the Palestinians 

“Targeted defamation and smear campaigns allege violations of counter-terrorism legislation and international law, or political action against Israel”, the statement continued.

According to UN OCHA, “most of these allegations are baseless or misrepresent and distort critical factual or legal elements”.

“Humanitarian organizations operating in the oPt adhere strictly to the principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence and humanity, and implement rigorous UN, donor and internal standards to ensure compliance with these principles, and all relevant bodies of law. Donor governments additionally impose guidelines that reflect political sensitivities in the oPt context”.

The “accusations being made against humanitarian organizations operating in the oPt have resulted in a range of negative impacts”, the agency elaborated, including “the allocation of time and resources to address allegations; some donors defunding certain activities to avoid risks; impediments by Israeli banks to the transferring of funds and procedures to close down accounts; refusal of Israeli venues to host events involving certain NGOs; and the potential undermining of information disseminated by organizations whose reputation has been damaged”.

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