EuroMed Rights solidarity mission to Palestine

From 13 to 19 May 2023, EuroMed Rights conducted a mission in Palestine to express solidarity with Palestinian civil society on both sides of the green line.  

Since its inception, the Israeli government has systematically engaged in suppressing Palestinian civil society, regardless of who’s in power. Although the new pro-annexation government poses new challenges and does not shy away from its own intimidation techniques, it was under the previous government that 7 civil society organisations were designated as unlawful organisations, suffering constant threats and intimidation from the authorities. One of these organisations is Al Haq, a member of EuroMed Rights and the oldest human rights organisation in Palestine, which had its offices forcibly closed, documents seized, and members threatened with prison. 

Nevertheless, the new government has shown it sees both Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations as existential threats. While Minister Bezalel Smotrich has openly declared that he sees human rights organisations as enemies, the Israeli Knesset presented a plan to tax foreign government contributions to civil society organisations, which would make the continuing operation of even Israeli organisations focused on human rights extremely difficult.  

Furthermore, since the beginning of this week the Israeli authorities are assailing Gaza with bombs, which has already caused the deaths of several individuals, including children. Unfortunately, due to Israel’s 18-year blockade, EuroMed Rights was not able to visit its members in Gaza this time, as the entrance requirements for the Strip make any visit from international human rights organisations nearly impossible. This is not by accident, but part of the Israeli authorities’s strategy to fragment and isolate Palestinians. Similarly, representatives of the Palestinian refugee diaspora remain isolated from the rest of the Palestinian community and forbidden to return to their native land.  

Under the context of increased repression presented above, this visit is a continuation of our efforts to shed light on the shrinking space for civil society in Palestine and to demand accountability before the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice for violations of international law. Moreover, we hope to show Palestinian and Israeli organisations fighting to defend human rights that they will not be left alone. Finally, we want to bring the attention of EU authorities to the existing situation of apartheid and settler colonialism on the ground and move the European Union from its current stasis towards Israeli human rights violations to sound action.