Take action and send emails to both US and EU leaders. Demand they pressure Israel to rescind the designation
On 15 October 2022, the Israeli occupation authorities banned the Executive Director of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Mrs. Tahreer Jaber, from traveling, after arbitrarily holding her for hours at Allenby/Al-Karama Bridge crossing, the only crossing from the West Bank to Jordan open to Palestinians. Mrs. Jaber was planning to go on an advocacy trip to Sweden to attend work meetings. Israeli border police notified Mrs. Jaber that she has been issued a travel ban after holding her in waiting for hours at the crossing.
The travel ban comes amid Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime’s alarming escalations after the arbitrary outlawing of six leading Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations (CSOs), under its 2016 Counter-Terrorism Law, which was later extended into the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) declaring the organizations to be “unlawful associations” under military orders. Several other directors of the six organizations had faced travel challenges and restrictions, and some received threatening calls from the Israeli Shen Bit for continuing to keep the organizations open and working. This is especially the case after the 18 August 2022 raid and forcible closure of the six organizations’ offices.
The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees is a progressive feminist, and civil grassroots organization, established in 1980. UPWC provides several programs empowering Palestinian women in vulnerable communities. Notably, the raid on 18 August at UPWC offices, included ransacking offices and confiscating almost everything in their offices, including laptops, files, printing machines, and office furniture.
The travel bans imposed on UPWC’s Executive Director and 10,000 other Palestinians in the last year, do not only violate the fundamental rights of individuals but also serve as collective punishment against the Palestinian People, as it feeds into Israel’s broader silencing campaign; throttling critical advocacy and civic work.
Israel’s overreaching into the work of Palestinian human rights organizations, and its current authoritarian travel ban, violate the rights to freedom of movement and association under Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the ICCPR, as ratified by Israeli in 1991. Further, the travel ban unduly and directly interferes with Mrs. Jaber’s right to work under Article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Notably, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly are similarly protected under Article 6 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and freedom of movement is implicitly expressed in the right of “unhindered access to and communication with international bodies” in Article 9(6). Human rights defenders must have the right to continue their work with no restrictions imposed, therefore the decision by Israel to impose a travel ban on the executive Director of UPWC is illegal and arbitrary.
The threat of retaliation is real and puts at risk, not just the organizations themselves, but the entire Palestinian civil society and the tens of thousands of Palestinians they serve every day. UPWC calls on the international community to take immediate action to ensure the respect of international law and the protection of Palestinian human rights defenders to carry out carrying their crucial work without interference.
As we are marking one year since the unlawful designation and criminalization of six prominent Palestinian civil society organizations, we would like international solidarity to grow given the continued attacks against civil society and human rights defenders.READ MORE >>
States should call on the Israeli government to rescind its designations of these Palestinian human rights groups and allow them to carry out their vital work unhindered.READ MORE >>
The Military Commander’s response is unsubstantiated and fails to provide any new information to justify the declarations and the rejection of the objection.READ MORE >>