UN human rights chief called for the move to be immediately revoked, saying it would have "a chilling effect" on human rights, obstructing the "crucial work" the rights groups perform for Palestinians.

Israeli activists protests in Tel Aviv against Israel’s designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, holding a sign that reads
Israeli activists protests in Tel Aviv against Israel’s designation of six Palestinian human rights groups as terrorist organizations, holding a sign that reads "Human rights are not terror!". (Sebastian Scheiner / AP)

Israel's designation of six leading Palestinian civil society groups as outlawed "terrorist organisations" is an unjustified attack, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said.

"Claiming rights before a UN or other international body is not an act of terrorism, advocating for the rights of women in the occupied Palestinian territory is not terrorism, and providing legal aid to detained Palestinians is not terrorism," said Bachelet.

Bachelet said the organisations are some of the “most reputable human rights and humanitarian groups in the occupied Palestinian territory” that have worked closely with the UN for decades.

She asserted that the designation decisions under the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Law of 2016 are vague or unsubstantiated.

The Jewish state said its move last week was due to their alleged financing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

READ MORE: Israel outlaws Palestinian human rights groups, sparking outcry

"A chilling effect"

The UN human rights chief said the decision was an attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation.

She called for the move to be immediately revoked, saying anti-terrorism legislation should not be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian aid activities.

"The organisations... face far-reaching consequences as a result of this arbitrary decision, as do the people who fund them and work with them," said Bachelet.

"The crucial work they perform for thousands of Palestinians risks being halted or severely restricted," she added.

She said the decision would have "a chilling effect" on human rights defenders.

She added that no evidence has been presented to support the allegations against the six groups, nor had any public process been conducted to establish the accusations.

The designations against the six organizations on October 19 are the latest in a long-running series of actions to undermine and restrict human rights defenders and civil society organisations working for the human rights of Palestinians.

These include using military regulations to declare groups unlawful, said the rights office.

The organizations are Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

READ MORE: Israel’s defamation of Palestinian NGOs isn’t a first and won’t be the last

Source: TRTWorld and agencies