Israel on Friday (22/10) effectively banned six prominent Palestinian human rights groups, declaring them a terrorist group. This is a major escalation after a decades-long crackdown on the political activities of the six groups in the occupied territories.
The announcement appeared to pave the way for Israel to storm their offices, confiscate assets, arrest staff and declare public expressions of support for the group a criminal act.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said he would seek further information from Israel about the designation. He added that America had not been given prior information about the determination.
“We believe respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critical to responsible and responsive governance,” Price told reporters at a press conference in Washington DC on Friday (22/10).
Most of the targeted organizations have documented human rights abuses by Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority, which both frequently arrests Palestinian activists.
Palestinian and international human rights organizations condemned the move as an attack on civil society and showed solidarity with the targeted organizations. [em/rs]