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UN accuses Israel of targeting Palestinian human rights groups

June 9, 2023 at 12:30 pm

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay gives a press conference on December 2, 2013 at the United Nations offices in Geneva. [FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images]

A commission affiliated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has accused Israel of targeting Palestinian human rights groups in order to “delegitimise them and silence civil society”, Anadolu news agency reported.

The Human Rights Council’s “Commission of Inquiry” said in its annual report yesterday that the Israeli crackdown on the groups was “unjustified and violated fundamental human rights, including the rights to freedom of association, expression, opinion, peaceful assembly, privacy and the right to a fair trial.”

The commission, led by a three-member team of human rights experts, was established in 2021 following the 11-day Israeli war on Gaza. Israel accuses the rights council, and the commission, of “unfair bias”.

It also accused Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank of “committing human rights violations”, however, it noted that “most of the violations were committed by Israel” as part of a campaign aimed at “ensuring and enshrining its permanent occupation at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, who leads the commission, accused Israeli and Palestinian authorities of “limiting the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful association.”

“We were particularly alarmed by the situation of Palestinian human rights defenders, who are routinely subject to a range of punitive measures as part of the occupation regime,” she said.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and Hamas on the report.

In 2020 and 2021, Israel designated and banned seven Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorists”. Later, the Israeli forces raided the organisations’ headquarters and closed some of their offices.

Israel says the groups are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which Tel Aviv classifies as “terrorist”. The rights groups deny any connection with the PFLP while a number of European countries have rejected the Israeli allegations, citing lack of evidence.

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