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Palestinian rights groups 'targeted by death threats and disinformation' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Palestinian rights groups 'targeted by death threats and disinformation'

Palestinian protesters confront Israeli soldiers [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 August, 2016

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Activists claim a spike in malicious activity against rights defenders have increased since launching campaigns to bring Israel to the International Criminal Court.
Two Palestinian human rights groups have been subjected to death threats and a campaign of disinformation after stepping up efforts to hold Israel to account.

Since 2015, anonymous death threats have been sent to individuals working for the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights and the Ramallah-based Al Haq organisation. The groups say that their donors have received forged communications claiming to be from staff members and auditors.

The threats and false correspondences are said to have increased after the groups intensified their calls for International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel, Human Rights Watch have revealed.

In a statement on August 11, the Gaza-based Al Mezan said that a staff member working in Europe had received three anonymous threats by email. The last of the messages, sent on August 10, was accompanied by photographs of the exterior of the staffer's home and a chilling message that said, among other things, "You deserve to see your loved ones suffer and die. But maybe you would be hurt before them".

Al Haq reported a similar pattern of threats against workers, especially against a Netherlands-based staffer involved in the ICC advocacy. The group said the spike in malicious activity also seemed to follow their initiatives calling for products from the illegally occupied West Bank to be labelled separately from other Israeli goods.

The rights group was simultaneously targeted by unknown people who wrote and telephoned their donors, alleging financial irregularities. The anonymous senders also threatened to harm staff members and the organisation's West Bank-based executive director.

Human Rights Watch have condemned the acts as obstructive to the cause of justice and human rights.

"The threats against Al Mezan and Al Haq staff members are reprehensible," said Sari Bashi, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.

"These groups are making important contributions to justice and accountability, including at the International Criminal Court".

Police in at least three European countries are now investigating the claims, according to Al Haq and Al Mezan.

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