Raji Sourani founded the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which lobbies for legislation that incorporates international human rights standards and basic democratic principles. Since its establishment in 1995, PCHR has become the foremost human rights organization in the Gaza Strip, serving as an independent legal body in Gaza that documents and investigates abuses, counsels victims, and provides legal aid.
Despite the suspicions of fellow Palestinians, Sourani has reached out to Israeli human rights organizations, a difficult move that proved effective in advancing the pursuit of human rights law. The center seeks to hold both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to international human rights standards. When Yasser Arafat announced that people suspected of security offenses would be tried through a new military tribunal, Sourani publicly decried the move as a breach of judicial independence. Sourani was consequently taken from his home at night and detained. In addition, Sourani has been held in Israeli detention four times, beaten and subjected to mental and physical abuse.
A noted Israeli human and civil rights attorney, Avigdor Feldman has litigated countless human rights cases and spoken out against his country’s violations of its own laws and values. During its occupation of the Palestinian territories, the Israeli government has at times resorted to torture, arbitrary detentions, and extrajudicial assassinations against Palestinian leaders and suspected terrorists. Feldman has been unwavering in his commitment to fighting these abuses in Israeli and international courts, exhorting Israel to fulfill the promises of its democracy.
For decades, Feldman has fought for human rights and social justice in Israel, including the rights of prisoners and compensation for Arab Israelis who have been forcibly and wrongfully removed from their villages. He continues to work with Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations alike in order to work towards a democracy that honors Israel’s commitment to human rights.