The arrest and persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society leaders and organizations has been a persistent practice of the Israeli military occupation – a practice which is continuing and escalating today. At 5:00 am on September 15, Eteraf Rimawi, Executive Director of Bisan Center for Research and Development, was taken from his home by Israeli soldiers. He has been detained five times before, most frequently in administrative detention, without charge or trial. Bisan Center for Research and Development is a critical social research organization, doing groundbreaking work around donor aid and domination in Palestine, industrial zones and economic exploitation and oppression, and the situation of Palestinian refugee youth.
In a statement, Bisan Center noted that the detention of its executive director is “an attempt from the occupation’s authorities to injure or stop the work of the civil society organizations in Palestine that serve the actual needs of people.”
In addition, human rights defenders like Palestinian lawyer Shireen Issawi, whose work to defend Palestinian political prisoners and speak publicly in defense of her imprisoned family members such as former long-term hunger striker Samer Issawi, have been held for months without trial. Bushra al-Tawil, 21, a journalist and prisoners’ rights advocate, has been imprisoned and held on secret evidence.
Human rights defenders like Dr. Yousef Abdulhaq, 73, co-founder of the Tanweer Center, are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial; hundreds of Palestinians have been administratively detained in just the past few months.
Attacks on human rights defenders violate international human rights law. These arrests directed at Palestinian civil society reveal an agenda to undermine Palestinian civil society organizations that serve the needs of the Palestinian people, and suppress those who work for Palestinian human rights.
Take action to demand the immediate release of Eteraf Rimawi, Shireen Issawi, Bushra al-Tawil, Yousef Abdulhaq and all Palestinian human rights defenders held in Israeli prisons, and an end to the ongoing attacks on Palestinian civil society leaders and organizations.
1. Click here to send a letter to occupation officials and demand the freedom of these human rights defenders and an end to the attacks on Palestinian civil society. It is critical to ensure the occupation is aware of international support for Palestinian civil society under attack!
2. Protest at the Israeli consulate or embassy. Bring posters and flyers to your next community protest in solidarity with Palestine about Palestinian political prisoners. Hold a community event or discussion, or include these cases in your next event about Palestine and social justice.
3. Boycott, Divest and Sanction. Hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Don’t buy Israeli goods, and campaign to end investments in corporations that profit from the occupation. Learn more at bdsmovement.net.