Israel declares major Palestinian NGOs affiliated with PFLP

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The United States will urge Israel to seek more information on the designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations, State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday.

Addameer, Al Haq, Bisan Center, DCI-P, Samidoun and UAWC were declared on Friday by the ministries of justice and defense affiliated with the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

“We will engage our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for the designation,” Price said in a regular telephone briefing.

Price said Washington was not given advance notice of the appointment, a move that has drawn criticism from the United Nations Human Rights Office, which said it was “alarmed” by the announcement. .

“Counterterrorism legislation should not be used to restrict legitimate human rights and humanitarian work,” he said, adding that some of the reasons given seemed vague or irrelevant.

“These appointments are the latest development in a long campaign of stigmatization against these organizations and others, hampering their ability to do their crucial work,” he said.

Earlier on Friday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said security organizations “will continue to act and intensify strikes against terrorism and terrorist infrastructure everywhere and by all means”.

“I call on countries around the world and international organizations to help in this fight and to avoid contact with companies and organizations that provide material to terrorism.”

Palestinian activists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) take part in a military performance to celebrate the group’s 47th anniversary, in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on December 11, 2014. (Credit: : REUTERS / IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)

“This appalling and unfair decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement,” Human Rights Watch, which is said to work closely with many concerned NGOs, said in a statement.

“The reaction of the international community will be a real test of its determination to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have done so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We are at their side to challenge this scandalous decision. “

The former Meretz MP and current president of the Israeli human rights NGO Zulat Zehava Galon issued a statement on Saturday announcing her solidarity with Palestinian NGOs.

“Jews have always been at the forefront against perpetrators of human rights violations all over the world,” said Galon. “In Israel, it seems we haven’t learned anything, because this great heritage is being thrown in the trash.”

The Defense Ministry accuses the organizations of serving as a network on the global stage by working undercover as civil society organizations to support the PFLP and pursue its interests.

The NGOs would be a branch of the leadership of the PFLP. Members of the PFLP serve as senior officials in the groups, and they have employed field activists who have participated in acts of terrorism.

NGOs are also accused of serving as sources of income for the PFLP, channeling donations from European states and international organizations to the terrorist group. According to a press release from the ministry, this is done through forgery and other means of deception. Some of the funding was also reportedly misappropriated to provide allowances for the families of deceased Palestinian terrorists, as well as to promote terrorism and violent ideologies.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the terrorism classification for six of the NGOs was obtained through cooperation between the Shin Bet and Israel’s National Counterterrorism Financing Office and was instituted by the Ministries of Defense and Justice in accordance with the 2016 Anti-Terrorism Law.

The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Defense issued separate documents classifying NGOs as branches of the PFLP. The Justice Ministry document adds an additional organization not listed by the Defense Ministry, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network Samidoun.

“The organization is a branch of the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” said the document released by the Justice Ministry. The logo, URL, address and phone number of each NGO were also included in the documents.

“Although the PFLP is a declared terrorist organization in the United States, Israel, Canada and the European Union, many European governments have continued to invest in NGOs linked to the PFLP for 20 years, seriously exploiting the money. of their taxpayers, “said Professor Gerald Steinberg. “These recurring cases testify to a generalized phenomenon and it is time for Europeans to freeze grants and set up independent mechanisms for evaluating NGO funding,” said Friday the president of NGO Monitor on the link between the PFLP and NGOs.

In October 2019, UAWC accountant Samer Arbid was arrested for detonating the bomb that killed 17-year-old Israeli Rina Shnerb and injured family members. Abdul Razeq Farraj, director of finance and administration of the UAWC, has also been indicted for his involvement in the terrorist attack. The Netherlands had funded the organization but suspended donations pending an investigation.

In May, four Palestinians were arrested by the Shin Bet for diverting European humanitarian aid via NGOs to the PFLP.

In 2019, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which has since been integrated into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, launched a campaign called Terrorists in Suits to reveal the links between NGOs and the PFLP.

The PFLP is a Palestinian Marxist armed organization founded in 1967 by George Habash and appointed by the US State Department and the European Union.

The Palestinian Authority on Friday condemned Israel’s decision to outlaw six NGOs affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as a “rampant aggression against Palestinian civil society.”

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry said in a statement that “this spurious and defamatory slander is a strategic attack on Palestinian civil society and the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to oppose the illegal occupation of Israel. and expose his continuing crimes ”.

The ministry said the move is “the latest in a systemic and relentless campaign against Palestinian civil society organizations and key human rights defenders.”

The ministry warned of “the possible serious consequences of this unprecedented assault” and held Israel fully responsible for the safety of the organizations’ personnel.

He called on the international community to seize the opportunity and defend the right of these organizations “to work without persecution and the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to defend their freedom.”

Lahav Harkov and Reuters contributed to this report.


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