I have been working at HaMoked as an attorney for the past 14 years, and as head of our legal department for almost five. And I can tell you – our work has never been so demanding, a constant uphill battle.
The occupation is becoming ever more entrenched. We now have to work harder than ever before to protect the basic human rights of Palestinians, individuals and families, who come to us for help. Routinely, both the military and the Ministry of Interior are unresponsive to our complaints about extreme arbitrariness and needless delays on their part. Time and again, our only recourse is to take them to court. We often lose in the lower court, but we appeal whenever it’s possible, twice or thrice if necessary, reaching all the way up to the Supreme Court of Israel. We succeed more often than not, but advocating with the authorities and litigating have become more arduous and time consuming than before.
What is hardest for me personally is the growing hostility to our work by sectors of the Israeli public. The legitimacy of legal aid to protect human rights seems obvious and uncontroversial to me. And yet it is increasingly vilified and demonized. We were in the High Court of Justice last week, petitioning to prevent the punitive demolition of a family home. As has become usual in recent years, nationalist extremists were there waiting for us, harassing, cursing and insulting us from the moment we entered the building. I can only imagine how these groups will be emboldened by this new government taking shape, when prospective ministers claim that our advocacy and litigation on behalf of Palestinians is a “threat to national security”.
At the same time, I can tell you that the lawyers here are just as determined as ever to continue doing this work in order to win back Palestinians’ basic rights.
But let me put this simply: with all of the challenges ahead of us, your support for HaMoked is vital. Thank you to those who have already donated. Please share our campaign with your friends and colleagues. There are just 5 days left for your donation to be doubled by generous private donors.
Adv. Daniel Shenhar
Head of HaMoked Legal Department