Israel’s closure of Palestinian organizations over alleged terror ties prompts diplomatic backlash
They accuse Israel of targeting them because of their political activism against Israeli rule and their work documenting alleged abuses in the occupied territories.
Israel moves to ban six Palestinian rights groups it accuses of terrorism, sparking international outrage
The escalation is the latest blow to Palestinians who say they have a shrinking space for political expression and dissent at a time when there are few international efforts to end the conflict and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
The designation last year led many European supporters to suspend funding for the groups. But the European Union said Israel had failed to provide sufficient evidence proving links to the PFLP. In July, nine EU countries said they would continue to work with the organisations.
In a denial of the israeli closure order, diplomatic missions from 17 countries, including Britain and France, met with al-Haq representatives in his office on Thursday evening.
“These accusations are not new and Israel has failed to even convince its friends,” Shawan Jabarin, the director of al-Haq, a human rights group, told The Associated Press on Thursday. internationally respected man who was among those targeted.
Other organizations raided were Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, the Bisan Center for Research and Development and Addameer, which defends Palestinian prisoners, according to a statement from the Israeli Defense Ministry.
In April, the United Nations called on the international community to support the six human rights defenders. “Israel’s disturbing designation of these organizations as ‘terrorist organizations’ has not been accompanied by any concrete and credible public evidence,” said the statement attributed to human rights experts under the auspices of the Office of the High Commissioner. to human rights.
“We call on donor governments and international organizations to quickly conclude that Israel has not substantiated its claims and to announce that they will continue to financially and politically support these organizations and the communities and groups they serve.
Last year, Israel also named the Union of Agricultural Work Committees as having ties to terrorism.
Al-Haq said Israeli forces knocked its locked door off the hinges and set off alarms. He said soldiers searched every room, going through files and scattering them around the office. The group added that the property around the church under the office was littered with shards of glass and other signs of the raid.
The soldiers then “closed the main entrance with an iron plate leaving behind a military order declaring the organization illegal”, the group said.
The Israel Defense Forces said it “confiscated property” during the raids.
Defense for Children International-Palestine said security camera footage showed soldiers taking away items including computers and client files. Addameer said his office door was kicked in and materials were stolen.
Israel announced the groups’ alleged terrorist ties in October. On Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz endorsed the declaration.
“All of the organizations in question operate under the cover and aegis of the PFLP in Judea and Samaria, as well as abroad,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement, using Israeli names for the West Bank.
Adalah, a Palestinian-run legal center based in Haifa, said the raids took place shortly after the Israeli military dismissed objections it sent on behalf of the six organizations.
“These organizations have had and have no ability to defend themselves against secret evidence that Israeli security forces hold against them,” the group said in a statement. “This attack on Palestinian civil society is an attack on the entire Palestinian people and their right to self-determination.”
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Some of these organizations also focus on human rights abuses by the Palestinian Authority, which rules parts of the West Bank and frequently arrests activists and critics. Palestinian leaders, whose last election was more than 15 years ago, are widely unpopular in the West Bank, in part because of their security coordination with Israel, which includes operations like Thursday’s raids.
At the same time, Israel is waging a military crackdown in the occupied West Bank targeting armed groups. This partly led to a short dogfight between Israel and a militant group in the Gaza Strip this month. The wave of raids in the West Bank began this spring amid Palestinian attacks that killed 19 people in Israel.
But human rights groups – among those targeted on Thursday – accused Israel of acting too aggressively and with impunity against Palestinians in the West Bank. Israeli forces have killed dozens since the spring; most recently, on Thursday, they killed a Palestinian in the West Bank city of Nablus. Israel said it fired at soldiers in clashes. The Palestinians have denied this claim.