Israel’s designation of six leading Palestinian civil society groups as outlawed “terrorist organizations” is an unjustified attack, the U.N. human rights chief said Tuesday.
The Jewish state said its move last week was due to their alleged financing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
It accused the six of working covertly with the leftist militant group, which pioneered plane hijackings in the 1970s to highlight the Palestinian cause and is blacklisted by several Western governments.
Michelle Bachelet 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.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said anti-terrorism legislation should not be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian aid activities.
“The organizations… 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.
“Claiming rights before a U.N. 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,” Bachelet said.
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.