Israel designates Palestinian civil society teams as terrorists, UN ‘alarmed’


Israel on Friday designated six Palestinian civil society teams as terrorist organisations and accused them of funnelling donor support to militants, a move that drew criticism from the United Nations and human rights watchdogs.

Israel’s defence ministry mentioned the teams had ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), a left-wing faction with an armed wing that has carried out lethal assaults towards Israelis.

The teams embody Palestinian human rights organisations Addameer and Al-Haq, which doc alleged rights violations by each Israel and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority within the occupied West Bank.

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“(The) declared organisations received large sums of money from European countries and international organisations, using a variety of forgery and deceit,” the defence ministry mentioned, alleging the cash had supported PFLP’s actions.

The designations authorise Israeli authorities to shut the teams’ workplaces, seize their property and arrest their workers within the West Bank, watchdogs Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International mentioned in a joint assertion.

Addameer and one other of the teams, Defence for Children International – Palestine, rejected the accusations as an “attempt to eliminate Palestinian civil society.”

The United Nations Human Rights Office within the Palestinian territories mentioned it was “alarmed” on the announcement.

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“Counter-terrorism legislation must not be used to constrain legitimate human rights and humanitarian work,” it mentioned, including that a number of the causes given appeared imprecise or irrelevant.

“These designations are the latest development in a long stigmatising campaign against these and other organisations, damaging their ability to deliver on their crucial work,” it mentioned.

But Israel’s defence ministry mentioned: “Those organisations present themselves as acting for humanitarian purposes; however, they serve as a cover for the ‘Popular Front’ promotion and financing.”

An official with the PFLP, which is on the United States and European Union terrorism blacklists, didn’t outright reject ties to the six teams however mentioned they preserve relations with civil society organisations throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

“It is part of the rough battle Israel is launching against the Palestinian people and against civil society groups, in order to exhaust them,” PFLP official Kayed Al-Ghoul mentioned.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International mentioned the “decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organisations.”

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem within the 1967 Middle East warfare. Palestinians search the territories for a future state.

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