Thousands of farmers, fishermen, youth, women, human rights activists, and representatives of Palestinian civil society called on the United Nations to take immediate and serious action to cancel the decision made by the Israeli occupation authorities to classify six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organisations, stressing the need to protect the right to form institutions, their freedom of work and independence, and the need to force the occupation state to comply with international law.
They stressed the importance of stopping incitement and the fabrication of charges against civil institutions by institutions supporting and officially linked to the occupation. They also called for pressure through international procedures to stop these occupation campaigns.
This came during the massive demonstration organised by the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) in front of the UNESCO headquarters in Gaza City, that was held at the same time as a similar demonstration organised by PNGO in Ramallah, denouncing the decision made by the Israeli Defence Minister to classify six Palestinian NGOs as "terrorist organisations." They also demanded that the UN take serious action to cancel the unjust Israeli decision and protect civil society organisations.
They chanted slogans denouncing the Israeli occupation's decision to classify Palestinian NGOs, calling on the UN to provide international protection for our people and their civil institutions and to punish and hold the occupying power accountable for its crimes and continuous violations against our people.
During the demonstrations, the participants raised posters saying "The occupation's decision to classify six Palestinian civil rights organisations as terrorist organisations is a flagrant violation of international law and a crime against our people", "we demand the UN intensify its efforts in defending civil society organisations in the face of the occupation's violations and attacks", "This decision will not break the will of civil society organisations and will not deter them from carrying out their work in defending the rights of our people," "we call on the international community and its organisations to work to cancel this decision and stop the Israeli campaigns of incitement against civil society organisations," and "the occupation is terrorism".
They emphasised the need to take serious and real steps to punish and hold Israel, the occupying power, accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, and to ensure criminals do not go unpunished. This is at a time when Israel views itself as above international law, despite the announcement of opening an international investigation by the ICC. However, Israel has viewed the absence of a serious stance by the UN in past years as a green light that encourages it to commit more crimes, including against Palestinian civil institutions.
The participants demanded swift action by the UN and its relevant institutions, in accordance with what is guaranteed by international conventions, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the principles of human rights to pressure the occupation to cancel its decision, targeting civil work and preventing the consequences of this dangerous decision, which represents a flagrant violation of international and humanitarian law.
During the demonstration, the director of the Haider Abdel Shafi Centre for Culture and Development, Mohsen Abu Ramadan, read out a memorandum from PNGO, which emphasised that the occupation state, which practices organised state terrorism against defenceless Palestinian civilians and commits illegal acts, is the last party who can talk about terrorism and try to classify the work of institutions that operate legally and officially and provide their services to the Palestinian public as terrorism.
Abu Ramadan stressed that the NGOs would continue their work in rejection of this and other decisions, and the world must see the truth represented by the reality of the Palestinian people under occupation. He emphasised our adherence to international resolutions that guarantee the inalienable national rights of return, self-determination and national independence in a fully sovereign state, with Jerusalem as its capital.
A delegation from PNGO handed the memorandum over to the Director of the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Peace Process and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to work towards punishing and holding the occupation accountable for its crimes and protecting Palestinian civil society.