Staff members of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan) have been subjected to a protracted campaign of intimidation, harassment, and threats since last year. Yesterday, a senior staff member of Al Mezan received a death threat via email directed to himself and to his family with recent pictures of his house from a close range. These attacks follow a similar pattern of threats against our colleagues at Al-Haq and seem to target NGOs that work on issues of accountability and access to justice for Palestinians. Al Mezan strongly condemns these malicious attacks on human rights defenders who work to promote human rights and international law by using peaceful and legal methods, and calls on the international community to intervene and bring them to an end.
Since late 2015, a protracted campaign has been waged against Al Mezan. Suspicious email messages, Facebook posts, telephone calls to staff, donors and friends have been frequent occurrences, carrying threats and false allegations about the integrity of Al Mezan and our staff members. More recently these messages have contained direct death threats. These attacks have intensified when our staff members were working on international litigation, including reporting to the International Criminal Court, and international advocacy focusing on accountability for serious violations of international law by the Israeli military. These interventions show that Al Mezan staff members are under close surveillance, using highly advanced capabilities. So far, Al Mezan has chosen to deal cautiously and privately with these attacks. However, with these recent, direct death threats to staff and to their families, Al Mezan has decided to go public.
This pattern of attacks follows a wave of hostility towards human rights NGOs involved in advancing accountability in what Israel considers as 'lawfare'.
Al Mezan strongly condemns the threats directed at our staff members, human rights defenders who work with a large number of human rights organizations, and intergovernmental bodies locally and internationally. This smear campaign of false allegations and threats seems to be aimed at undermining Al Mezan's credibility and standing within our society and with partners and at distracting us from our human rights mission and work. This campaign does not and will not scare Al Mezan. To the contrary, Al Mezan will continue to carry out our professional work on our promotion and protection mission using legitimate human rights and international law tools.
Al Mezan calls on the international community, especially human rights defenders mechanisms at the United Nations, European Union, and on the national level, and on international human rights organizations to condemn these unwarranted attacks and take concrete measures to challenge and stop them.
Arabic: Mr Samir Zaqout, firstname.lastname@example.org, +970 599 461 861.
English: Mrs Aida Begovic, email@example.com, +970 8 2820 442.