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Blacklisting Palestinian rights groups is ‘designed to undermine ICC probe’

November 1, 2021 at 1:07 pm

Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz in Jerusalem on June 7, 2021 [Menahem KAHANA//AFP/Getty Images]

Israel’s draconian move to declare six Palestinian human rights and civil society groups to be terrorist organisations is said to be a desperate move designed to undermine the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out by the occupation state.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz faced near universal condemnation when he designated six Palestinian organisations as “terrorist” groups a week ago. Speculation is rife over why Gantz took the decision when he did, given that a number of these groups have been operating in the occupied Palestinian territories for decades and have been given funding by the UN and various western governments.

According to the founder of one of the groups, Al-Haq, the six organisations have been targeted because they have given evidence to the prosecutor of the ICC for an investigation into Israeli war crimes. “The one thing that is common among these six organisations… is that they have all been active, especially Al-Haq, in documenting and presenting dossiers to the International Criminal Court in The Hague regarding Israel’s violations of human rights,” said Palestinian-American lawyer Jonathan Kuttab yesterday in a webinar with the Balfour Project.

READ: Israel – Unban the 6 human rights groups 

Kuttab pointed out that Gantz was the head of the Israeli occupation forces during the 2014 Israeli offensive against Gaza which is subject to the ICC probe, so potentially he is a defendant in any upcoming legal action by the world body. He suggested that Gantz’s reasoning could be something along the lines of: “Who are these people to try me? I will declare them to be terrorists and I will make them suffer and pay. I will criminalise them.”

The terrorist designation of the Palestinian human rights and civil society groups, said Kuttab, is a sign of unprecedented Israeli arrogance at a time when it has been declared an apartheid state. “I think Israel has now reached the point where the arrogance, the hubris, the feeling of power and invincibility has reached the point where it really doesn’t care,” he explained. “Israelis actually really don’t care. Twenty-five per cent of Israelis think and acknowledge that the situation in Israel is apartheid and they say, ‘So what? We can in fact get away with it. Netanyahu has said if international law is not in our favour, then we will change international law.”