PCHR calls upon the Palestinian Authority to cancel its decision to freeze funds of charitable societies

PCHR is deeply concerned with regard to the latest measures taken by the Palestinian Monetary Fund against dozens of charitable societies and NGOs, including freezing their accounts in all banks inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  PCHR asserts that these measures violate human rights standards, and warns of the tragic consequences for thousands of poor Palestinian families which receive social, educational, health and relief services from these organisations. 

A note circulated by the Palestinian Monetary Fund on 24 August 2003 to all banks working in Palestine demanded that these banks freeze the accounts of 39 charitable societies and NGOs working in the Gaza Strip.  According to the note, the action was based on a decision by the Palestinian Attorney General.  The note called for “abstaining from releasing any funds from these accounts without a prior approval by the Monetary Fund, according to the Attorney General’s decision.”

The societies and NGOs mentioned in the note were all Islamic institutions which have branches throughout the Gaza Strip.  These organisations include the Islamic Society, al-Salah Islamic Society, Muslim Young Women Society, the Islamic Assembly and other societies.  PCHR learnt that these societies are licensed and conduct their work in accordance with the law.  They were informed of the freezing of their accounts only after the information was released by the media. 

These societies focus on the poorest segments of Palestinian society, providing social, educational, health and relief services.  For example, on 26 August 2003, PCHR received a letter from al-Salah Islamic Society, which explained impacts of the Monetary Fund’s decision on its services and institutions.  In addition to other activities and projects mentioned in the society’s letter, the decision affects:

1. Two schools, in which 720 orphans receive education;

2. 8 kindergartens, in which 2000 children receive education;

3. 4 medical centers, which are visited by 15000 patients monthly;

4. A total of US$ 250000 of monthly financial aid provided for 3200 families, including 15000 children; and

5. A once-paid financial assistance to 500 families monthly. 

PCHR is deeply concerned regarding these latest measures and:

1. Asserts that they negatively affect organisations that are part of the Palestinian civilian society, providing important services for the poor.

2. Asserts that the services provided by these societies are currently especially important as the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has deteriorated due to war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians and property.

3. Asserts that these measures violate the right to form assemblies, which is ensured by Palestinian Law and international human rights standards.

4. Calls upon the Palestinian Authority to cancel these measures and ensure that these societies enjoy their right to carry out their activities and provide needed services.

5. Asserts that the rule of law must be promoted without any exception to ensure that no measure is taken in violation of the law. 

For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893. PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. http://www.pchrgaza.org