CJPME: Following Israeli raids on NGO offices, Canada must support Palestinian human rights defenders

Montreal, August 18, 2022Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) has written to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly urging immediate action in support of six leading Palestinian NGOs, whose offices in Ramallah were violently raided and shut down by Israeli occupation forces early this morning. Israel outlawed these organizations in October 2021 by falsely designating them as “terrorist” groups, but no credible evidence justifying this designation has ever been brought forward. This morning, Israeli forces raided and damaged the offices of the six organizations, confiscating their property, welding their doors shut, and leaving behind military orders declaring the organizations to be unlawful.

“Israel’s escalating attacks against the six Palestinian organizations must be condemned in the strongest terms possible,” said Michael Bueckert, Vice President of CJPME. “Canada’s ongoing silence in the face of unfounded attacks on Palestinian civil society is contributing to Israel’s sense of impunity and will only embolden further and more dangerous actions against human rights defenders,” added Bueckert.

The organizations targeted by Israel’s repressive actions include some of the most respected civil society groups operating in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT). This includes Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), which is currently investigating the deaths of 17 children killed during Israel’s recent military offensive in Gaza. It also includes Al-Haq, a human rights and international law organization which is currently preparing evidence for the International Criminal Court’s investigation into war crimes in the OPT.

CJPME notes that Canada has repeatedly refused to take a position on Israel’s attacks against the six Palestinian NGOs, even as Israel’s actions have been universally condemned by UN representatives and human rights organizations. Last month, nine European countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Spain and Sweden) issued a joint statementconcluding that “no substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy towards the six Palestinian NGOs,” and pledged that “in the absence of such evidence, we will continue our cooperation and strong support for the civil society in the OPT.” (For links and additional sources, see CJPME’s Backgrounder on Israel’s criminalization of Palestinian NGOs).

CJPME urges Canada to join the rest of the international community in supporting Palestinian human rights defenders, and to immediately take the following actions:

  • Condemn Israel’s criminalization of Palestinian NGOs, and firmly reject the fraudulent “terrorist” designations;
  • Hold Israeli officials accountable for its attacks on civil society by imposing sanctions; and
  • Do everything in the government’s power to support and protect the work of human rights defenders in Palestine, including by making diplomatic resources in Tel Aviv and Ramallah available to the targeted NGOs, should they request it.

About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact: Michael Bueckert, VP CJPME: 613-315-7947 or [email protected].

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

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