Criticism of the Israeli label of ‘terror’ for Palestinian groups

Israel’s surprising designation of six Palestinian civil society groups as “terrorists” has divided its ruling coalition and shed light on the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine group.

The move announced last Friday by Defense Minister Benny Gantz caused a stir, including among European donors supporting the target groups and between Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

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Bnei Gantz government meeting

Defense Minister Benny Gantz

(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

Israeli non-governmental organizations or NGOs that partner with the Palestinians involved also expressed astonishment. So did some in the media, given the prominence of the groups involved, especially Al-Haq, a rights group founded in 1979 by writer Raja Shehadeh, a contributor to New Yorker magazine.

Gantz has also come under fire from within Israel’s government, an unwieldy eight-party alliance that includes left-wing politicians.

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the moderate Meretz, warned that, as an occupying military power, Israel must be “very careful in imposing sanctions on Palestinian civil organizations because there are political, diplomatic and, most importantly, consequences. on human rights “.

Transport Minister and Labor leader Merav Michaeli said the way the announcement was made “did great harm to Israel with our greatest and most important friends.”

But Gantz’s office has not wavered, insisting that a joint investigation by the security establishment had proven that the six groups operated “as an organized network under the leadership of the PFLP,” as the Marxist group is known.

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Shwan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq at the organization's offices in Ramallah, which has been declared a terrorist organization by the Defense Ministry Bnei GantzShwan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq at the organization's offices in Ramallah, which has been declared a terrorist organization by the Defense Ministry Bnei Gantz

Al-Haq organization offices

(Photo: AP)

The PFLP was founded in 1967 by George Habache, mixing Marxist-Leninism, Arab nationalism and virulent anti-Zionism, eventually becoming the second most powerful Palestinian armed group after Yasser Arafat’s Fatah.

It does not currently have firepower to match the arsenal of rockets held by the rulers of Gaza, Hamas, or Islamic Jihad, but it is actively involved in the international campaign to boycott Israel known as BDS, short for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.

The PFLP has been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, and Israel says it is responsible for a 2019 bomb attack in the occupied West Bank that killed 17-year-old Israeli Rina Schnerb.

The PFLP leader in Israel-blockaded Gaza said the designated organizations “have no ties” to his group beyond a shared ideology opposing the occupation.

“These NGOs work completely independently,” said Jamil Mazher. The PFLP has been a primary target of the Israeli NGO Monitor, which tracks the funding and activities of non-profit groups involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with a specific focus on European donors.

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The six NGOs that Israel says work covertly with the terrorist group PFLP      The six NGOs that Israel says work covertly with the terrorist group PFLP

The six NGOs that Israel says work covertly with the terrorist group PFLP

Its president, Gerald Steinberg, said the appointments last week “appear to reflect the impact of the ongoing investigation of the NGO Monitor.”

NGO Monitor wrote to the European anti-fraud office OLAF in November 2020 to share what it said was proof that EU funds had been given to Palestinian NGOs with ties to terrorist organizations.

OLAF responded in January that it had “dismissed the case on the grounds that there is insufficient suspicion to open an investigation,” according to a letter seen by AFP.

Israel is not required to disclose the evidence it used to support the terrorism designation, and secrecy is permitted under the 2016 anti-terrorism law.

The Defense Ministry has said the groups organized PFLP meetings, employed “convicted terrorists” and operated as a “lifeline” for the PFLP through “fundraising, money laundering and activist recruitment.”

Tel Aviv University law professor Eliav Lieblich, writing on the Just Security website this week, argued that “it simply cannot be accepted that well-known and widely respected Palestinian human rights groups are designated as ‘terrorist organizations’ by executive order and on the basis of classified intelligence “.

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The offices of the legal organization a-Damir in Ramallah The Palestinian Authority declared a terrorist organization by the Ministry of Defense Bnei GantzThe offices of the legal organization a-Damir in Ramallah The Palestinian Authority declared a terrorist organization by the Ministry of Defense Bnei Gantz

Addameer Offices

(Photo: Reuters)

An Israeli official said an envoy will soon head to Washington to share evidence after the United States said it would seek “more information” on the designations.

Meanwhile, the rejection of the decision persists. Representatives of 25 Israeli civil society groups traveled to Ramallah on Wednesday to show solidarity with their Palestinian colleagues.

“This attack on Palestinian civil society, on Palestinian organizations, is not new,” Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told AFP at the rally.

“What is new,” he added, is that “they are targeting some of the oldest and most respected civil society organizations in Palestine, such as Al-Haq,” and that mounting international outrage means that Israel will no longer be able to act with “impunity”.



Reference-www.ynetnews.com

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