QUAKERS IN BRITAIN have joined UK civil society and faith leaders in urging the UK government to take immediate action to protect Palestinian human rights defenders.

The joint statement comes in the wake of early morning raids on August 18 by Israeli armed forces on seven Palestinian civil society organisations in Ramallah.

Israeli soldiers forced entry, ransacked offices, destroyed property and confiscated crucial equipment and files. Some office doors were welded shut with iron plates. All the organisations were declared illegal and ordered to close.

Signatories, including Oxfam, Christian Aid, and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, called on the UK government to join European states in condemning the attacks and growing arbitrary criminalisation of Palestinian civil society. The UK government must support the urgent work of Palestinian human rights defenders seeking accountability for violations of international law, they said.

At least 37 Palestinian children have been killed in the occupied Palestinian territory so far this year, with 175 in Israeli military detention, according to the UN. Organisations targeted in the raids included the Defence for Children International-Palestine, which documents these cases.

The statement said: “These Palestinian civil society organisations provide vital services to Palestinians living under occupation, including the provision of health care in the occupied Palestinian territory; organising legal support for people, including children, who have been detained; and conducting essential research and local programmes to promote human rights.

“Crucially, the work of these organisations also includes monitoring, collecting evidence of, and reporting the human rights violations experienced by a people facing a military occupation now in its sixth decade.”

* Read the full statement with signatories here.

* Source: Quakers in Britain