Joint Press Release
Attacks against Gaza based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have continued as the office of Palestinian Non-governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) in Gaza City was broken into and some of its belongings were stolen or sabotaged. The stolen belongings include a small amount of cash. In previous attacks, the offices of the Costal Municipalities Water Utility, the Al Dameer Association for Human Rights, the Independent Commission for Human Rights, and the An-Najd Development Forum were broken into. An office of an international NGO, the Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF), which is located in the same building that hosts PNGO in Gaza City, was also broken into yesterday. The undersigned organizations strongly condemn the continued attacks on civil society organizations and call on the authorities in the Gaza Strip to act in accord with their legal obligations, investigate these crimes, make public the results of the investigations, and bring to justice those who prove to be involved in them.
On Sunday 13 December 2009, the offices of PNGO and CHF in Gaza City were broken into and some of their belongings were stolen or sabotaged. The two offices are located in the Abu Al Qmsan Building near Shifa Tower, west of Gaza City. PNGO staff members reported that they noticed a clear mishandling of papers and documents in their office. A small amount of cash (NIS 2,369) was also lost. They also noticed that there was no forced breaking into or damage to any doors or windows in the office, which suggests that the trespassers had the ability to open closed doors without forcibly breaking them.
It should be noted that the office of CHF was broken into the same way as PNG, despite that the office door was closed by a high quality locks (multi-lock) and was closed when the staff left the office yesterday. The perpetrators entered the office and destroyed one of two empty safes.
The undersigned human rights organizations gravely condemn the assault on the office of PNGO and the CHF. They also note the timing of these assaults, as PNGO have just won the French Republic Human Rights Award and are still being exposed to a defamation campaign by the pro-Israel lobby due to their role in confronting Israel's human rights violations and the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip, and for their pioneering role in the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns against Israel's violations of international law.
The undersigned organizations express their deep concern by the repetition of such assaults against NGOs and international organizations in the Gaza Strip. The nature of assaults raises doubts about the real motivations of the perpetrators, particularly as the stolen objects are not valuable, but there was extensive mishandling of papers, documents and computers in most assaults.
In light of the above, the undersign human rights organizations call on the Gaza Government police to open a prompt, transparent, and credible investigation into these criminal acts and bring their perpetrators to justice without delay. The authorities are called to reveal information about the investigations in previous similar assaults, particularly the assault against the office of Al Dameer Association for Human Rights; and to take all the necessary procedures to protect the civil society organizations' security and facilitate their work.
Al Dameer Association for Human Rights
The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights
Gaza Community Mental Health Program
Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights