Al-Marsad- Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
|In their own words
|An independent, not-for-profit, international legal human rights organisation that operates in the Occupied Syrian Golan. The organisation was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Majdal Shams.
- In 2020, total income was NIS 828,697; total expenses were NIS 767,577.
- Based on financial information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO Transparency Law, Al-Marsad received NIS 5,737,008 from foreign governmental bodies in 2013-2022. (See table below for further funding information.)
- Al-Marsad aims “to establish a modern and efficient institution that struggles against war, colonialism and occupation” by “document[ing] human rights violations perpetrated by Israel (the occupying power) against civilians…[such as] expulsion of the native Syrian population (ethnic cleansing), the control of land and water by Israel, separated families, settlement expansion, annexation…” (emphasis added).
- Al-Marsad presents a distorted version of the conflict, erasing the long history of Syrian aggression in the Arab-Israeli conflict including Syrian-initiated war in 1948 and 1967, continual shelling of the Israeli civilian communities located around the Sea of Galilee between 1948 and 1967, and the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.
- Al-Marsad engages in advocacy and “attempts to inform policy makers at national government and intergovernmental institutions with presentations that address the history, current situation, and legal issues impacting Syrians in the Golan.”
- Al-Marsad rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “collective punishment,” “forcible transfer,” “war crimes” and “colonialism.”
- Claims that “Israel continues not only to occupy the Syrian Golan but to also destroy its ancient ruins and geopolitical atmosphere for the sole purpose of cleansing the Golan of its Syrian people and their history.”
- Al-Marsad offers “alternative tours” to the Golan aimed at “challenging the Israeli narrative of the occupied Syrian Golan.” The tours provide the “opportunity to discuss with visitors the reality of life under occupation.”
- In January 2022, Al-Marsad, alongside Al-Haq, PHROC, ESCR-Net, the International Human Rights Clinic (Cornell Law School), and the International Human Rights Clinic (Boston University School of Law), submitted a joint report to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding human rights defenders, claiming that “Israel’s undermining of Palestinian human rights defenders’ freedom of opinion, expression and peaceful assembly constitutes a major pillar of Israel’s system of inhuman acts that facilitate its entrenching and maintaining of an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people” (emphasis added).
- In October 2021, Al-Marsad was a signatory on a joint statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the statement, “This unprecedented designation is merely the latest escalation in Israel’s widespread and systematic institutionalized campaign that has aimed to silence and discredit any Palestinian individual or organization that dares seek accountability for Israel’s grave human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity…the international community, especially the European Union and its member states who are key supporters of and donors to Palestinian civil society, should ensure that banks and financial institutions in their jurisdiction are notified Israel’s designation of Palestinian organizations is unfounded and inapplicable.”
- In September 2019, Al-Marsad, alongside Al-Haq, submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights alleging that “Israel illegally exploits energy resources” and “governs the OPT and Golan in a sovereign-like manner, permanently alienating public immoveable land and natural resources.”
- In January 2019, Al-Marsad published a report titled “Windfall: The Exploitation of Wind Energy in the Occupied Syrian Golan” discussing “Israel’s newest attempt to durably tie itself to the Golan by manipulating wind energy production through a specific project in the Golan, Energix Renewable Energies Ltd.’s (‘Energix’) Clean Wind Energy Project (‘Project’).” The report was funded by Misereor.
- In June 2019, Energix sued Al-Marsad stating that “Al-Marsad had violated Israel’s defamation law and infamous anti-boycott law, which has received global condemnation.” Energix further stated that Al-Marsad supports the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement in coalition with “anti-Zionists.”
- In September 2019, Al-Marsad sent a letter to the United Nations requesting “urgent intervention…[to] protect Al-Marsad and its employees from attacks on their human rights work, including frivolous legal complaints.”
- In May 2020, Al-Marsad sent a letter to the European Union calling to “Attend the future hearings of the lawsuit against Al-Marsad to ensure compliance with fair trial standards” as well as to “Submit an amicus curiae brief to the Israeli court hearing the case against Al-Marsad that outlines the EU’s legal concerns about the situation of human rights defenders and freedom of speech in the Golan.”
- As of September 2020, the lawsuit against Al-Marsad is still ongoing.
- In April 2018, Al-Marsad published a book titled “Forgotten Occupation: Life in the Syrian Golan after 50 Years of Israeli Occupation” that accused Israel of “numerous war crimes, notably the forcible transfer of much of the Syrian population from the occupied Syrian Golan, the destruction of protected property and the transfer of Jewish-Israeli settlers into the occupied territory” (emphasis added).
- In April 2018, Al-Marsad submitted a “List of Issues” to the United Nations Human Rights Committee that accused Israel of “exploit[ing] and pillag[ing] the natural resources belonging to its Syrian inhabitants. Water, vital to the Golan’s agricultural productivity, has been diverted for Israel’s development and profit.”
- In October 2017, Al-Marsad held an “advocacy tour” to Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Ireland to “raise awareness of the discriminatory policies of the Israeli occupying authorities, which violate international law and the rights of Syrians in the occupied Syrian Golan,” as well as “addressing the policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Israel against the native Syrian population of the Syrian Golan during and after the 1967 war” (emphasis added).
- On June 8, 2017, on the occasion of “50 years of military occupation,” Al-Marsad stated that “the Israeli authorities, Israeli settlers and private companies – both Israeli and international – illegally benefit from Occupied Syrian Golan’s abundant natural resources” and called on the international community to “take concrete measures to protect the rights of the Syrian population under occupation… Israel must respect all international resolutions relevant to the Occupied Syrian Golan and comply with its obligations enshrined in international human rights and humanitarian law conventions.”
- On March 11, 2017, Nizar Ayoub, founder of Al-Marsad, gave a lecture titled “Syria/Golan Heights: the suffreing [sic] of the people” at Sabeel’s tenth international conference in Jerusalem to mark “100 years since the Balfour Declaration; 70 years since the UN Partition Plan; 50 years since the occupation of the state of Palestine: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; 30 years since the beginning of the first intifada, and 10 years since the beginning of political divisions among our Palestinian people.”
- In March 2017, Al-Marsad published a map of Syrian villages “destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war” claiming to illustrate “the full extent of the tragedy of the forcible transfer and displacement of the native Syrian population in the Golan by the Israeli occupation forces, and the destruction of their homes and communities to reshape the landscape.”
- In November 2016, Al-Marsad called on foreign governments and the international community to act on “settlement expansion and land appropriation” and “send fact-finding missions to the Occupied Syrian Golan to witness firsthand the deteriorating human rights situation.”
- In July 2016, Al-Marsad published a report “Water is Life” accusing Israel of allowing settlers to “exploit a disproportionate amount of the local water resources” and implementing “policies that discriminate greatly against the indigenous Arab population of the Golan.”
- The report lists industries and businesses that work in the Golan, including May Eden and the Golan Heights Winery, and claim that they profit “from the occupation of the Syrian Golan” and “are complicit in the crimes of the State of Israel and their activities are illegal.”
- In May 2016, Al-Marsad sent a letter to the Delegation of the European Union to Israel and its member states’ embassies, requesting EU action against “Israel’s discriminatory and illegal policies towards the native Syrian population in the Occupied Syrian Golan,…increased settlement expansion and the exploitation of natural resources.”
- In February 2016, Al-Marsad and Adalah sent a joint letter to Yuval Steinitz, the Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water, and Uri Ilan, the Commissioner of the Northern District Interior Ministry, asking that Israel “revoke permissions to carry out oil drilling in the Golan Heights,” on the grounds that it is “contrary to international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” claiming that the exploitation of the oil is considered a “war crime.”
- Calls for “a boycott of Israeli products originating from settlements in the occupied Golan.” The group also supports the EU decision to label products from Israeli communities built over the “Green Line” and claims that “illegal imports of settlement products into the EU must come to an end quickly and immediately.”
- In February 2022, Al-Marsad published a fact sheet on “Natural resource exploitation,” accusing Israel of “consolidat[ing] its power over the region’s natural resources…includ[ing the] appropriation of wind, oil and water resources.”
- In February 2018, in response to the proposed Irish BDS bill, which would make it illegal for Irish citizens and residents to import or sell “settlement goods” or to provide or attempt to provide “settlement services,” Al-Marsad claimed that “This Bill would apply to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, which include the West Bank, Gaza and the Syrian Golan” and that the Golan’s “thriving settlement economy only exists because of Israel’s discriminatory policies which remove competition and distribute vital resources in an inequitable manner, stunting the growth of the local Syrian economy.”
- In May 2017, following international travel companies “promoting accommodation and tourism in illegal Israeli settlements,” Al-Marsad stated that “It is time that international travel companies such as Lonely Planet, Booking.com and Airbnb recognise their responsibilities and end their complicity in the Israeli occupation of the Golan.”
- In response to a letter sent by Al-Marsad, Lonely Planet stated that it had provided “relevant information in the introduction to the Golan Heights section to inform travelers’ decisions, but to give further detailed political or historical analysis wouldn’t be appropriate for a travel guidebook.”
- In 2009, Nancy Tuohy, Al-Marsad legal researcher, presented a paper on “Profiting from an illegal occupation: Eden Springs water in the Syrian Golan” at the Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative and AIC Conference titled “United in Struggle against Israeli Colonialism, Occupation, and Racism: Economic Perspectives and Advocacy Seminar” illustrating “the potential for the BDS movement to achieve real and practical results. US and European companies who engage with human rights violators now risk tarnishing their own brand and reputation. Public opinion can therefore be a useful tool with which to pressure corporations to act in a manner consistent with human rights norms and adversely impact Israeli companies which persist in violating international law.”
- Signatory to the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS,” which calls for an end to Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promotes the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.”
- In August 2016, Al-Marsad became a member of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), during a conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The FIDH, which is funded by multiple European governments, is a major leader of BDS campaigns worldwide. The group, composed of 178 member organizations, supported campaigns including the BDS campaign against Orange (2015), promoted the EU product labeling guidelines, and participated in the NGO campaign at the UN Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel following the 2014 Gaza War.
- Partners with political advocacy NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict including: Adalah, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, De-Colonizer, and Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem(CCPRJ).
- Al-Marsad is a member of the Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI).
Foreign donations based on annual financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non Profits (amounts in NIS)
2017-2019 numbers are based on NGO annual financial reports; 2020-2022 amounts based on quarterly financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits.
|European Endowment for Democracy
|Arab Human Rights Foundation (ARHF)
|Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF)
|British Shalom Salaam Trust
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