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Israel declares six Palestinian rights groups as terror organizations

Israel accuses them of being fronts for the PFLP, an allegation the NGOs deny stating Israel is attempting to silence criticism.

Jerusalem24 – On Friday Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, declared six Palestinian human rights groups to be “terrorist organizations” saying that they had effectively operated as an arm for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group.

Representatives of the groups and international organizations denied the charges and accused Israel of trying to silence criticism of alleged human rights abuses.

The six organizations included the Palestinian rights organization Al-Haq, Addameer, which represents Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli military courts, and Defense for Children-International, a group that advocates for Palestinian children.

The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, the Bisan Research and Advocacy Center and the Union Of Agricultural Work Committees were also declared to be terrorist organizations.

Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin, whom Israeli authorities have accused of being a PFLP member, said the move was an attempt to crack down on criticisms of alleged Israeli human rights violations.

“They may be able to close us down. They can seize our funding. They can arrest us. But they cannot stop our firm and unshakeable belief that this occupation must be held accountable for its crimes,” Jabarin told The Times of Israel.

Jabarin denied that his organization was a PFLP front: “I challenge any of them — the defense minister, the Shin Bet, anyone — to prove as much.”

Jabarin also criticized the timing of the announcement, which buried the controversial news on Friday afternoon. “When Gantz issues such an order on Friday afternoon, it means he doesn’t want the world to see his actions.”

International human rights groups, however, immediately slammed the decision. In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemned the move as “appalling and unjust.”

“This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner,” the two organizations said.

The left-wing Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem also condemned the move.

“Israel’s ‘change’ government’s designation, earlier today, of Palestinian human rights organizations as ‘terror organizations’ is not merely declarative. It is an act characteristic of totalitarian regimes, with the clear purpose of shutting down these organizations,” B’Tselem said in a statement, accusing Israel’s new government of trying to perpetuate a “violent apartheid regime.”

“B’Tselem stands in solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues, is proud of our joint work over the years – and is steadfast to continue so,” it said.

 

 

Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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