A new report documenting the violations against civil society organizations (CSO's) was launched today by Al Mezan Center and Al Haq.
The report, which commends the vital role played by CSO's since the early 20th century, condemns the recent attacks, trespasses and damages inflicted upon CSO's by Palestinian actors in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The report lists the violations against CSO's between 11 and 20 June 2007; a period that witnessed wide-scaled internal fighting in the Gaza Strip, which ended by taking over of The Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) security installations by Hamas' security wing.
The same period saw attacks against CSO's in the West Bank by Fatah militants and activists.
According to this report CSO's were trespassed or taken over by armed men and/or activists inflicting damage to their buildings, belongings or personnel.
The report states that some CSO's were torched, damaged or compelled to adopt certain policies or management personnel.
It adds that 69 CSO's have been attacked and damaged in OPT; 41 of which in the Gaza Strip and 28 in the West Bank.
Al Haq and Al Mezan highlight that the report is a small effort to assert the territorial unity of the OPT.
This is a significant notion at the present time given the increasing claims and attempts to enforce separating the two parts of OPT by Israel.
While many other categories of social structures, such as schools, government and security offices, police stations and private properties, have been subject to varying degrees of destruction and damage, the report is restricted to documenting the damage inflicted upon CSO's.
It is for other reports to cover other categories.
In addition, the report is neutral in the sense that it lists all the violations regardless the actors behind them.
In this report, Al Mezan and Al Haq condemn all kinds of violations and attacks against CSO's as contrary to law and unjustifiable under any circumstances.
Such conduct, they assert, is contrary to the Article 26 of the Palestinian Basic law, which provides for Palestinian citizens' right to participate in public life; particularly the forming syndicates, societies, unions, federations, clubs and public institutions.
In addition, this conduct constitutes a breach of article (1) of the Palestinian Charitable Associations and Community Organizations (Law No.
1 Year 2000), which states that "Palestinian citizens have the right to practice social, cultural, professional and scientific activity in all freedom, including the right to establish and run Associations and Community Organizations".
Al Mezan and Al Haq called the PNA and Hamas for: Stop all kinds of taking over of CSO's and the attempts to dominate them.
Armed men presence in and around CSO's immediately end in order to enable their boards and personnel to function without restriction.
Returning all the documents, appliances and equipment that was taken by their members and duly handing them over to authorized CSO's personnel without delay.
Rebuilding of the buildings of damaged CSO's by the party that caused the damage.
Measuring the damages of CSO's belongings and compensating them.
Al Haq and Al Mezan stress that restitution and compensation, as well as punishment of perpetrators, must be made in accord with the law.
Measures to prevent such conduct in the future should also be employed by political factions, armed groups or security personnel.
CSO's must be respected and protected in the time of conflict.
Finally, Al Mezan and Al Haq emphasize that the current circumstances pose serious threats to the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people.
The situation will only exacerbate without due respect and adherence to a legal process under which people and property are protected and perpetrators of criminal acts are punished.