The Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF) was founded in 2011 amidst increasing violations of the rights of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and restrictions on the work of HR organizations in Israel and the OPT. Concerned for the safety and well-being of HRDs who are faced with attempts to silence and intimidate them, or interfere with their actions through legislation, military and police brutality, and legal prosecution, the Fund provides HRDs with the support they need to fend off attacks on their bodies, persons and work.
The Fund’s main activity area is the provision of legal aid and defense to HRDs who face different forms of legal persecution (such as false arrests and indictments or other types of legal harassment), ensuring that HRDs can continue carrying out their activism knowing that they have support. Thus the Fund seeks to mitigate the “chilling effect” of harassment by state authorities and extra-parliamentary groups.
The fund also provides HRDs and their attorneys with legal and professional tools through research and documentation, training, and information sharing. HRDF advocates to the international community to raise global awareness for the status of HRDs in Israel and the OPT.
The HRDF works with a variety of civil society organizations, movements and HRDs. For example, the Fund has provided legal counseling and representation to: Israeli and Palestinian HRDs who participate in nonviolent protests against the Israeli occupation in the West-Bank; HRDs fighting for the rights of indigenous Bedouins in the Negev/Naqab desert in Israel; HRDs fighting for LGBTQ rights; Israelis of Ethiopian origin faced with police brutality and racism; and many more.