7amleh The Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement, in cooperation with the Association for Progressive Communication (APC), recently submitted a statement ahead of the UN Human Rights Council’s 37th session to express our grave concern regarding the crackdown on freedom of expression and infringements on privacy online for Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.

Recent years have witnessed a sharp rise in attacks on the right to free speech and privacy online for Palestinians. Digital rights violations are perpetrated at the hands of all three governments: the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and the de-facto government of Hamas in Gaza. In addition, social media companies, whose policies have called into question their neutrality, are complying with Israel in censoring Palestinian voices. Online platforms, particularly social media platforms, have become a new arena of political confrontation for the conflict as well as a place to discuss internal issues within the Palestinian community. It is crucial that the right to freedom of expression and privacy, as stipulated in UN conventions, are upheld and respected for Palestinians.

7amleh prepared the statement with support of APC staff for Agenda Item 7 “Palestine” to raise the issue of digital rights violations in Palestine within the broader human rights context. The statement also directly targeted the Tunisian, Swedish and Irish governments who demonstrate commitment to either Palestinian or internet issues. The statement touched on Israeli crackdown of social media in Palestine through its increasing reliance on partnerships with social media giants and predictive policing systems, the Palestinian Authority’s recent Electronic Crimes Law and the PA’s unlawful arrests of journalists and human rights defenders. The statement concluded with a set of recommendations to the government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Human Rights Council.

Nadim Nashif, the Executive Director of 7amleh, commented that “The issuing of 7amleh’s first statement to the Human Rights Council is part of our broader advocacy strategy to engage the international community with the violations of internet freedoms in Palestine and to utilize UN mechanisms and bodies to work towards accountability and transparency from perpetrators of digital rights violations to ensure compliance with international standards.”

7amleh is the only Palestinian non-governmental organization dedicated to utilizing online resources to empower marginalized Palestinian communities and enhance their capacities in advocacy and raising social awareness. Our values are based on the unwavering belief of freedom of speech, we work to protect the digital rights and freedom of speech for Palestinians. 7amleh, through its dynamic and community-based approach, works in response to the subjugation of Palestinian voices and aims to build a Palestinian society that is able to breach geo-political boundaries and use digital platforms en masse to advance the community’s rights and well-being.

The APC (Association for Progressive Communication) works to ensure that internet access is widely available, supports grassroots organisations to utilize technology to enhance their communities and advocate for rights, and also works to ensure that government policies related to information and communication serve the best interests of the general public, particularly those in the Global South.

Download the full statement here.