'Like an execution': Palestinian NGOs describe Israeli crackdown
A series of public hearings with victims of Israeli human rights violations was launched on Monday at the United Nations in Geneva, with the Israeli occupation unsurprisingly dismissing them as "sham trials".
The Israeli decision to "outlaw" several Palestinian rights groups as "terror organizations" was "like an execution" designed to stop them from probing abuses, the head of one of the bodies told UN investigators on Monday.
The designation of seven Palestinian civil society organizations as "terrorist" bodies by "Israel" last year, followed by closure orders and raids on their premises, caused significant worldwide criticism.
These designations and their consequences are now the focus of a series of unusual public hearings sponsored by a high-level team of UN investigators exploring Israeli human rights violations, which began on Monday.
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This form of a public hearing has only occurred twice before, with one held in 2009 during an investigation also involving "Israel".
The hearings will also address later this week the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May, knowing that the findings of the UN rights office suggest that Abu Akleh was killed by Israeli occupation forces.
"In these proceedings, we are not drawing any conclusions or making any judgments," lead investigator Navi Pillay, a former UN rights chief from South Africa, told the gathering via video link.
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On the first day, the chiefs of three organizations took the floor, all accusing "Israel" of using a "secret" dossier as a pretext and supplying no genuine proof against them.
Shawan Jabarin, executive director of the legal-aid human rights organization Al-Haq, revealed a years-long campaign against his organization, including efforts to persuade supporters to withdraw their support, as well as death threats against him and other colleagues.
Being designated as a "terrorist" organization in October 2021 was the culmination of that, he said, characterizing it as "like an execution" aimed at preventing his organization from investigating a wide range of human rights violations. But he insisted during the live-streamed event that "we will not stop."
"We will continue fighting against the culture and the policy of impunity."
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Earlier this year in August, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) brutally raided six human rights organizations and research centers in Ramallah and Al-Bireh, violating their spaces, and illegally vandalizing confidential information and testimonies.
The groups in question are well-known for documenting apartheid and persecution crimes committed by the Israeli occupation.
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) stormed Ramallah and Al-Bireh, according to the Palestinian Wafa news agency, raiding the ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Defense for Children International - Palestine, Al-Haq, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, as well as the Bisan Center for Research and Development.
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