UN urges Israel to allow humanitarian workers to remain in Palestine

The UN urged Israel to allow human rights and humanitarian organisations to continue their work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

On Thursday morning, Israeli forces broke into, searched and sealed the offices of seven Palestinian human rights and humanitarian organisations in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, Xinhua quoted UN News as saying in a report.

Their property was confiscated and destroyed and military orders about closing the offices were left at the premises.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Palestine Lynn Hastings said that attempted closures “affect all institutions working to promote human rights and development and are delivering assistance”.

The UN and its partners take seriously allegations of funding terrorism as well as the Israeli designations of these entities as unlawful and/or terror organisations, according to the UN News.

Despite offers to review the accusations to determine if funds have been diverted, Israeli authorities have not given any compelling evidence to UN agencies nor NGO partners working in the OPT to support these designations.

Several member states recently announced that the evidence which was shared with them does not justify the designations.

“The attempted closures of these organisation offices represent the latest in a series of actions by Israel that are further limiting the ability of human rights, humanitarian and development work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which affect all institutions working to promote human rights, development and delivering assistance,” the UN agencies and the Association of International Development Agencies said in a statement.

The statement reiterated a previous one issued November upholding that counter-terrorism legislation must be in accordance with obligations under international law, particularly international humanitarian law and human rights law.

This includes full respect for the rights to freedom of association and expression.

It cannot be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian work; the breadth of the Israeli 2016 Anti-Terrorism legislation and its impact on the presumption of innocence present serious concerns under international law.

“We urge the government of Israel to refrain from any action that would prevent these organisations from continuing their critical human rights, humanitarian and development work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the statement concluded.

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