The Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) has today issued a statement expressing serious concern over ongoing threats and attacks directed at Palestinian human rights defenders.
BHRC highlights a pattern of death threats, harassment and violence aimed at curtailing the work of Palestinian human rights defenders and activists. This includes death threats issued against the director and staff members of Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq, as well as assaults against Palestinians associated with the Israeli NGO B’tselem.
Volunteers from B’tselem have been physically attacked, received death threats and had their homes targeted in response to their filming of crimes committed by Israeli soldiers and settlers. Israeli soldiers at the scene of one of these attacks failed to intervene or arrest the assailants.
By contrast, BHRC raises serious concerns over the continuing arrest and prosecution of Palestinian human rights defenders for exercising their human right to peaceful protest.
This includes the arrests of activists Farid al-Atrash and Issa Amro after a peaceful demonstration in Hebron, during which the Israeli Army fired tear gas and stun grenades at protestors and journalists. BHRC also highlights the travel restrictions placed by Israel on Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and extremely concerning statements by Israeli ministers calling for the targeting of peaceful activists.
Chair of the Bar Human Rights Committee, Kirsty Brimelow QC, said:
“No peaceful protestor or human rights defender should face intimidation, violence or harassment simply for exercising their rights or doing their job. It is increasingly clear that Israel is failing to properly prevent, investigate or prosecute incidents of threatened or actual violence against Palestinian human rights defenders and activists.
The United Nations has repeatedly called upon Israel to acknowledge that its international human rights obligations apply – as a matter of international law – to the actions of the Israeli authorities in the occupied Palestinian territory and to the population living under its control, and to ensure that Palestinians are afforded full human rights protections.
BHRC is extremely concerned that these calls continue to go unheeded.”