From the moment we took it upon ourselves to defend human rights and civilians in times of war, we were conscious to both the dignity in our mission and the dangers it bears on our lives and security as human rights defenders. Nonetheless, human dignity and advocating for the rights of victims were at the heart of our mission, our life goal and purpose. We were armed with the international law’s rules and mechanisms, which is the fruit of many peoples’ experiences and struggles to identify justice from injustice, in our mission to protect humans and their rights to live a dignified life.
Decades passed and we fought via every legal route we had available tirelessly, without a single moment of hesitation in the face of the Israeli occupation’s restrictions and threats. As the occupation continued without rest to put hurdles in our path, and enjoyed the illusion of depriving us from the means and mechanisms to defend the defeated and oppressed, our will never waned and we were never persuaded to drift from the path we chose to tread, because it is our deep belief that we have no choice but to stand tall and defend, as Palestinian people, our existence, dignity and right to self-determination.
In our journey to defend victims’ rights via all legal means available, the Israeli occupation proved, and continues to, that it established a justice institution whose main goal was to deny Palestinians justice by imposing legal and financial hardships aborting any chance for redress. Having experienced the Israeli justice system and knowing its reality, we find ourselves still obliged to seek justice within it in order to expose it and to be able to access international legal mechanisms which stipulate exhausting all possible legal routes within the Israeli justice system as a first and compulsory step before seeking it.
As we succeeded in putting the Israeli occupation in its right place before international justice institutions as a war criminal, and perpetrator of crimes against humanity; and as we exposed its legal institution that covers for its crimes, the Israeli occupation and its tools launched a fierce and unethical attack on us to undermine our reputation and integrity through the spread of falsehoods and lies in an attempt to defeat our persistence through threats and restrictions. Nevertheless, their smear campaign backfired making a joke out of the occupation, who tried to assume the role of the judge while it clearly is the accused and the criminal. Meanwhile, we marched on without a moment’s hesitation as we never expect a certificate of good standing from the occupation, but rather we are vigilant to its attacks. It is our firm belief that we are on the correct and moral side of history, and that our strength comes from our deep integration and belief in international human rights institutions, and from the many acknowledgments we received from across the globe and on several occasions, with many prestigious awards, that credit us as the sincerest and truest defenders of human rights and dignity.
As the report shows, the occupation continues to attempt to turn the table on us. While its natural position is in the seat of the defendant, as per crucial evidence available on its war crimes and crimes against humanity as verified in numerous international reports and investigations, the occupation want to play judge and falsely accuse anyone who tries to expose its crimes with a blind support from the United States. Its attacks were not limited to nongovernmental organizations that aim to promote and protect human rights and civilians’ safety in times of work, it also took on the international legal mechanisms, most prominently of which were the public and direct threats by the US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, against the International Criminal Court and its judges, threatening to prosecute them and undermine the Court’s work if it proceeded with investigations into American and Israeli crimes.
In conclusion, despite the hard times we are in and the uncertainty of the future that lies ahead, our only option is to continue unabated with our legal struggle to expose the Israeli occupation’s crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory and to prosecute it internationally no matter the burden or the cost. Those who fear exposure should stop committing crimes rather than attempt to cover them up. From here, we stress that the occupation’s desperate attempts to undermine our work and integrity only fuel our passion and faith in the justice of our cause, proving that we are on the right path. Even more, we consider it a testament of our success in rejecting the role of the helpless victim.