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Israel raids, closes down Palestinian NGOs believed to be linked to terrorist organization PFLP

European partners react, reject Israel’s designation of NGOs as ‘terrorist’ organizations

A Palestinian man stands in front of the closed entrance of the Defence For Children International, in Ramallah, August 18, 2022. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Israel raided the offices of several Palestinian non-governmental organizations on Thursday, closing them down and seizing their property for supporting and furthering terrorism. 

The office of Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Wednesday that the groups had been operating “under the guise of performing humanitarian activities to further the goals of the PFLP terrorist organization, to strengthen the organization and to recruit operatives.” 

According to Gantz’s statement, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine conducted activities through the Palestinian NGOs Al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Defence for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees – all of which Israel shut down on Thursday.

In October 2021, Israel’s Ministry of Defense designated the six groups listed as “terrorist” organizations. 

“Those organizations were active under the cover of civil society organizations, but, in practice, belong to and constitute an arm of the [PFLP] leadership, the main activity of which is the liberation of Palestine and destruction of Israel,” said a statement at the time from Gantz’s office.  

According to Israel’s Ministry of Defense, the NGOs have been “controlled by senior leaders” of the PFLP, while serving as a “central source” of financing for the arch-terrorist organization, with the NGOs receiving “large sums of money from European countries and international organizations.”

Israel’s naming of the NGOs as “terrorist” organizations provoked international backlash as critics said the move, in effect, had compromised the work of Palestinian human rights organizations. Some European diplomats criticized Israel’s closure of the organizations, with nine European countries saying they would continue to work with them, citing “not enough evidence” for Israel’s claims that NGOs are a front for terrorism.

“We express our solidarity with our partners, which we have been supporting for many, many years,” said Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, the E.U. representative in Judea and Samaria, calling the human rights work of the Palestinian groups “indispensable.”

The United Nations also condemned Israel’s actions.

“Despite offers to do so, Israeli authorities have not presented to the United Nations any credible evidence to justify these declarations,” the U.N. Human Rights Office said in a statement. “As such, the closures appear totally arbitrary.”

Israel has said that it would provide evidence to the United States for why the closure of the organizations was necessary. 

“We will review what is provided to us and come to our own conclusion,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian activist Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al-Haq, said his organization would not abide by the Israeli closure and that “neighbors and strangers” had reopened the Al-Haq office in Ramallah, with staff resuming their work.  

“We don’t take permission from any Israeli military or political official. We are proceeding, encouraged by our belief in accountability and the international law,” he said.

In 2007, the presiding judge in Israel’s Supreme Court upheld a travel ban against Jabarin and described him as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” explaining: “Some of his time is spent conducting a human rights organization, and some as an operative in an organization which has no qualms regarding murder and attempted murder, which have no relation whatsoever to rights. Quite the opposite – they reject the most basic right of all, without which there are no other rights – the right to life.”

The PFLP is a Marxist organization founded in 1967, which has been involved in several terrorist activities, including airplane hijackings and suicide bombings. 

In August 2019, terrorists from the PFLP detonated a roadside bomb at a West Bank hiking spot, killing 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and wounding her father and brother. The Union of Agricultural Work Committees NGO reportedly had employed two of the PFLP operatives involved in the terrorist attack.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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