On October 19th, the State of Israel classified six Palestinian civil organizations as “terrorists,” one of them being the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC). This classification is part of the Israeli policy of apartheid and occupation. The UPWC is a feminist, progressive, and civil grassroots organization, established in 1980. They fight to ensure positive affirmation of women within all the laws active in Palestine. It also considers itself part of the Palestinian national movement that struggles against the Israeli occupation to achieve independence and self-determination. The list also includes the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association Addameer, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the human rights organization al-Haq, and the Palestinian committee of Defense for Children International.
The threat to arrest, jail, and freeze the assets of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and other peaceful advocates of Palestinian Human Rights is a blatant attempt to criminalize, strangle, and silence successful rights-based organizing across occupied Palestine… Struggling for Food Sovereignty is not a crime!”
La Via Campesina
On November 7th, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) classified these same organizations as “unauthorized,” paving the way for further prosecution. Israel’s policy of occupation and control over Palestinian territory has cost many lives and generated violence, destruction, and poverty. Incarceration, persecution, and threats about criminalization are part of the colonial strategy of the state of Israel to hinder grassroots organizing by the Palestinian people. This is the case, for example, of the feminist militant Khitam Saafin, which has been under administrative detention for more than a year, since November 2nd, 2020.
Israel is intentionally targeting Palestinian organizations that expose Israel for exactly what it is—a settler colonial and apartheid state. These are organizations that are committed to protecting and advocating for our people’s safety, liberty, and right to live in a just society on our own land. We are fighting every single day against occupation, land theft, ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism, and a violent apartheid regime.
Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees
Internationalist solidarity is a fundamental strategy for grassroots movements to denounce attacks such as this one, to support targeted organizations, and care for the lives and freedom of their militants. This is why organizations such as La Via Campesina, the World March of Women, FIAN International, Grassroots International, Friends of the Earth International, and CETIM have co-signed a declaration of internationalist solidarity with Palestinian civil society and gathered signatures from dozens of organizations from around the world. The declaration is open for other organizations to sign.
The declaration demands that the Israeli Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces reverse their recent declarations. Read below an excerpt that denounces the dangers of classifying the six Palestinian organizations as terrorists and unauthorized:
“The six organizations that the Israeli government has criminalized form part of the bedrock of Palestinian civil society that has been protecting and advancing Palestinian human rights for decades across the full spectrum of issues of global concern, including children’s rights, prisoners’ rights, women’s rights, socio-economic rights, the rights of farmworkers, justice and accountability for international crimes. This issuing is an appalling next step in the criminalisation and efforts to silence Palestinian civil society that opposes the inhumane occupation by the Israeli government. The published designation decisions give the Israeli government the possibility to close offices, arrest staff and members of the organisations that are being criminalized and seize organizational assets. Penalties can extend to those who assist or are in contact with the criminalized organizations. Altogether, these Israeli government actions create a threat to the safety and security of the people who make up these organizations, to the organizations themselves and to the very important work that these organizations do in promoting and protecting human rights.
The declaration is part of a number of actions in the solidarity campaign with the Palestinian people. Grassroots organizations that have signed the declaration have established November 29th as a day of mobilization in this calendar of continuous struggle for free Palestine. The struggle for Palestinian self-determination is a struggle for all the peoples of the world.