Civil Society and the Question of Palestine

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8 August 2019

Middle East

  • On 1 August, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (comprising 10 NGOs) expressed grave concern over the decisions of the Netherlands and Switzerland to suspend funding to UNRWA, following allegations of misconduct by its leadership. The NGOs called the decision “hasty and politically-motivated” pointing out that the UN investigation into the alleged misconduct had not yet been completed. They further stated that, if the allegations were found to be true, concerned States should take measures to rectify the situation, rather than “cripple UNRWA’s capacity to fulfil its mandate.”
  • On 6 August, B’Tselem reported that direct hits by teargas canisters fired by Israeli forces during Gaza demonstrations had led to Palestinian deaths. According to an investigation by the NGO, “security forces routinely fire teargas ganisters directly at protestors, in contravention of the regulations.” Although teargas was designed to be a non-lethal crowd control weapon, it can be used in ways that seriously harm people and even cause death. The NGO further stated that “firing teargas canisters directly at protestors is not a stand-alone practice, but part of the open-fire policy Israel has been pursuing along the Gaza border for more than a year.”
  • On 7 August, Hamoked published a communication received from the Israeli military stating that “according to the policy of the Civil Administration, passage into the Seam Zone [the area between the separation wall and the Green Line] with beasts of burden is to be allowed.” The message was a response to a complaint filed by Hamoked in 2018 protesting restrictions imposed on Palestinians, especially farmers, who could not obtain permits to access their lands for cultivation.
  • On 8 August, Hamoked announced that the Israeli High Court of Justice had refused to hear a series of petitions Hamoked had filed in 2018 regarding the situation of foreign spouses of Palestinians living in the West Bank, who had difficulty obtaining residency status. The Israeli military is currently not processing their requests for residency, made based on family unification grounds, causing foreign spouses to be “illegal aliens” at risk of deportation. The court accepted the military’s claim that the correct procedure had not been followed by the petitioners.


  • On 1 August, the Palestinian Return Centre announced the completion of a training course in documentary filmmaking it had organised in Istanbul with the Al Jazeera Media Institute. Twenty Palestinians took part in the training, as part of which they produced four documentaries.
  • On 5 August, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign published an open letter to the mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets (UK) regarding his decision not to allow a fundraising event for Gaza to take place in one of the Tower Hamlet’s Council-run parks. The organisation had obtained internal communications, through a freedom of information request, stating concerns of antisemitism as the reason for the denial. The organisation called the decision “an unlawful interference with the freedoms of expression, assembly and conscience combined with a misapplication of the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of antisemitism” and requested the mayor to remedy the situation.

United Nations

This newsletter informs about recent and upcoming activities of Civil Society Organizations affiliated with the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat provide the information “as is” without warranty of any kind, and do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, or reliability of the information contained in the websites linked in the newsletter.