Monday, December 6

More than 100 actors, musicians and writers sign a manifesto against Israel’s attacks on NGOs

Israel declared last October to six Palestinian NGOs of human rights as terrorist organizations. NGOs have been working on the ground alongside UN agencies for decades, and the decision has sparked a huge international backlash of condemnation. This Wednesday, 111 well-known faces from the world of culture, including film directors, actors, writers and musicians from different countries, have published a manifesto demanding that Israel “immediately revoke the terrorism designations.”

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Among the signatories are the directors Ken Loach and Alfonso Cuarón; actors like Liam Cunningham, Susan Sarandon and Richard Gere; and writers like Irvine Welsh and Naomi Klein. Among the musicians are also prominent names, including Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) and René Pérez (Resident). Several Spaniards signed the document: Icíar Bollaín, Juan Diego Botto, Alberto San Juan, Carlos Bardem, Julio Pérez del Campo and Mercè Sampietro.

“Israel’s designation of these six Palestinian organizations as terrorist groups and the military order prohibiting them imminently endanger the security of these organizations and their personnel. The military order allows the Israeli occupation forces to break into their offices. , close them by force, arbitrarily detain their staff to be tried by Israeli military courts, and institute other reprisals, such as a travel ban and revocation of residency, against their members, “the manifesto states.

The six Palestinian organizations affected are Addameer (legal aid to Palestinian prisoners), Al-Haq (one of the oldest organizations in the Arab world dedicated to documenting violations of the rule of law), Defense for Children International – Palestine, Bisan Center for Research and Development (supporting poor communities), Union of Agricultural Work Committees and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

“The organizations affected are some of the most respected human rights humanitarian groups in the occupied Palestinian territory and for decades they have worked closely with the United Nations,” denounced the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. “Asking for rights at the UN or another international body is not an act of terrorism, defending the rights of women in the occupied Palestinian territories is not terrorism and giving legal assistance to detained Palestinians is not terrorism,” he added.

Ken Loach, one of the signers of the manifesto, says: “Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are right when they say that this is an attack by Israel on the international human rights movement. When will Israel be held accountable for its crimes? politicians cannot claim to support the rule of law and then come to terms with Israel when their racist oppression of the Palestinians is in full view. ”

Far from backing down and giving in to pressure, the head of the Israeli army’s central command last week extended the decision to the West Bank – Previously it only applied to Israel and the organizations could continue to operate, albeit with difficulties, in the occupied territory. Israel claims that there is “much varied and reliable information indicating that these organizations are an arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization.” However, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied territories, Lynn Hastings, has stated that have not received any written documentation to justify the decision.

This is not the first time that Israel has acted against aid workers or NGOs. In 2019 the country expelled the director of Human Rights Watch in the area and this Wednesday, a military court will announce the sentence against the Spanish aid worker Juana Ruiz. Ruiz, incarcerated since April, was found guilty last week of working and raising funds for an organization accused of illegal. The conviction is based on a “plea agreement” reached between the Prosecutor’s Office and the defense. The agreement, which does not imply an express admission of guilt but rather an acceptance of the charges, proposes a 13-month prison term and a fine of NIS 50,000 (14,000 euros).

“The Israeli army has frequently attacked human rights defenders in recent years. As its occupation has deepened, its defiance of international law has continued and its record of human rights violations has worsened,” they denounced a score of independent UN experts in a statement published after Israel’s decision in late October.

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