Last month, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, sent a joint submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Ms. Irene Khan, in response to a call for input issued ahead of her upcoming annual thematic report on disinformation and freedom of opinion and expression, which will be presented to the Human Rights Council at its 47th regular session in June 2021.
Mindful of the legal obligations of Israel, the Occupying Power, the submission aimed to address and document Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civil society organisations and human rights defenders, including the systematic smear and disinformation campaigns that, inter alia, violate the right to freedom of opinion and expression and ultimately aim to silence opposition to its unlawful policies and practises and maintain its apartheid regime.
The joint submission highlighted Israel’s recent attacks on Palestinian human rights defenders, which included arbitrary arrests, travel bans, and residency revocations, as well as attacks on Palestinian human rights organisations, including raids. The submission further underlined how the Israeli government, through its Ministry of Strategic Affairs and in coordination with government-operated non-governmental organisations, has been leading a systematic, carefully orchestrated, and institutionalised smear and disinformation campaign against Palestinian human rights organisations and defenders, in an attempt to shrink civil society space, and delegitimise, oppress, and dominate them.
Given Israel’s prevailing culture of impunity, the submission reasserted the need to finally address Israel’s apartheid regime as the root cause of Israel’s systematic human rights violations, including those impacting human rights defenders and civil society organisations. Accordingly, the joint submission offered Special Rapporteur Khan the following recommendations:
 Al-Haq, “Landmark Decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court Welcomed by Human Rights Organizations, 6 February 2021, available at: https://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/17878.html.