Israel Raids, Closes Palestinian Groups It Calls Terrorist

IDF troops seen during the overnight raids in Yehudah and Shomron. (IDF Spokesman)

Israeli forces raided overnight Wednesday the offices of several Palestinian advocacy groups it had previously designated as terrorist organizations, sealing entrance doors and leaving notices declaring them closed.

Israel has claimed some of these groups had ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular, left-wing movement with a political party as well as an armed terrorist wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis. The groups deny Israel’s claim.

Shawan Jabarin, director of al-Haq, one of the targeted groups, confirmed that forces raided the office. He said his staff are still examining whether any documents had been confiscated.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office reiterated its claim that the groups “operate under the guise of performing humanitarian activities to further the goals of the PFLP terrorist organization, to strengthen the organization and to recruit operatives.”

Most of the targeted organizations document alleged human rights violations by Israel as well as the Palestinian Authority.

The groups reportedly raided include al-Haq, a veteran Palestinian rights group; Addameer, which advocates for Palestinian prisoners; the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees; the Union of Agricultural Work Committees; and the Bisan Center for Research and Development.

Thursday’s raids come seven months after Israel outlawed al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan and others.

The IDF said it closed seven institutions and seized their property in Thursday’s raid.

Israel and Western countries consider the PFLP a terrorist organization.

A Defense Ministry statement last year said some of the outlawed groups are “controlled by senior leaders” of the PFLP and employ its members, including some who have “participated in terror activity.”

It said the groups serve as a “central source” of financing for the PFLP and had received “large sums of money from European countries and international organizations.”

Israel has long accused human rights groups and international bodies of being biased against it and of singling it out while ignoring graver violations by other countries.

The European Union disputed the Israeli allegations.

“Past allegations of misuse of EU funds in relation to certain Palestinian civil society organizations have not been substantiated,” E.U. diplomacy chief Josep Borrell’s spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

“The EU will continue to stand by international law and support civil society organizations,” she added, according to The Times of Israel.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh vowed solidarity with Al Haq and the others that were raided, saying during a visit at the Al Haq offices that it’s an institution of the PA.

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