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Hagai El-Ad, Executive Director of BTselem, a leading Israeli human rights organisation, poses in his office in Jerusalem December 16, 2015. An ultra-nationalist Israeli group has published a video accusing the heads of four of Israels leading human rights organizations, including "BTselem", of b.(Photo by: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
UN investigators urge Netanyahu to protect B’Tselem
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
02/23/2019
The rapporteurs sent the letter to Netanyahu in December, but was made public by the UN only this week.
Seven United Nations rapporteurs warned Israel against targeting the left-wing organization B’Tselem and urged it to protect its staff and other “human rights defenders.”

The rapporteurs sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on the matter after they received a complaint about the harassment of two B’Tselem staff worker; the NGO’s Israeli Executive Director Hagai El-Ad and one of its Palestinian field researchers Manal Al-Ja’bri.

The rapporteurs sent the letter to Netanyahu in December, but was made public by the UN only this week.

In the letter, the rapporteurs said they had received reports that El-Ad, had been targeted by Israeli politicians and Netanyahu after he briefed the UN Security Council about West Bank settlements and the deteriorating human rights situation for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

During the briefing, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon publicly told El-Ad in Hebrew that he was a “wretched collaborator.”

After the briefing Netanyahu called El-Ad a disgrace and, according to the rapporteurs, one Likud Knesset member posts an image of El Ad with the words wanted dead or alive on it, the rapporteurs said.

The UN investigators also took issue with Border Police treatment of B’Tselem field worker Manal Al-Ja’brin, who was detained at a check point in Hebron and allegedly asked to take off her clothes. She was also allegedly kicked in the legs and punched in the back by the guard, according to the rapporteurs.

“We wish to express serious concern at the denunciatory statements by high-level public officials against Mr. El-Ad,” which they said, created “an atmosphere of harassment that could lead to physical violence.”

They said they were also “concerned at the harassment of Ms. Al-Ja’bri, including gender-based violence, undignified treatment by asking her to undress in public and in front of male guards,” the rapporteurs said.

They asked Netanyahu to provide examples of measures the government had taken to prevent such harassment.

The seven rapporteurs were: Agnes Callamard tasked with investigating extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; David Kaye who looks at protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and Michael Lynk who investigates the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.

Additional investigators included: Clement Nyaletsossi Voule on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Michel Forst on the situation of human rights defenders; Dubravka Šimonović on violence against women, its causes and consequences and Ivana Radačić on discrimination against women in law and in practice.
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