In this episode on OmVärlden Podd we interviewed Ran Goldstein, Executive Director, from Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, and Mahmoud Abu Rahma, Spokesperson for Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Gaza.
Recently many human rights groups around the world are facing attacks on their work and organizations in Israel and Palestine are constantly being challenged. The West Bank and East Jerusalem are still under occupation and the Gaza Strip is blocked by Israel from access to the outside world.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories and the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders have stressed concerns over human rights defenders being faced with escalating restrictions in the region.
Shrinking space for civil society
– In Israel the government is talking about legal warfare, and everyone criticizing Israel and using legitimate tools against the occupation are framed. Today for every single word we say there is a counter part on the other side. They blame us for being traitors, but as a human rights organization when we speak out about the occupation, immediately a member of the parliament will say that there is not occupation, says Ran Goldstein.
On the West Bank and in Gaza Palestinian human rights groups are being criticized by the both the Israeli government as well as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
– The space is shrinking. The Israeli government does not want to listen to us. They very quickly label us us a political organization, saying we are not a real human rights organization, or corrupt. But there are several other actors who also are unhappy with what we are doing, the Hamas authorities in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. If you make a statement about the Palestinian, Authority (PA) they accuse you of taking the side of Hamas, and vice versa, says Mahmoud Abu Rahma, who himself was stabbed and attacked a few years ago in Gaza.
Fake news, unawareness of the occupation, financial difficulties and the state for the peace movement in both Israel and Palestine are other subjects discussed in this pod. Ran Goldstein and Mahmoud Abu Rahma visited Sweden in April 2017 for seminar organised by the Association for the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament (SÄRLA), together with Riksdagsbiblioteket, Diakonia and the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.