Israel designated six major Palestinian civil society groups as “terrorist organizations” on Friday, in a move sharply condemned by the Palestinian Authority and international human rights groups.
The Jewish state said the move was due to alleged funding of groups from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), after European donors were informed of their alleged financial misconduct earlier this year.
The Israeli Defense Ministry accused the six groups of working covertly with the PFLP, a left-wing group that pioneered plane hijackings in the 1970s to expose Palestinian causes and was blacklisted by several Western governments.
According to the ministry, the six groups “form a network of undercover organizations operating on the international front on behalf of the PFLP to support its activities and further its goals.”
The ministry named the groups as Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), Admir, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Al-Haq, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) and Union of Agricultural Works Committees (UAWC). .
A ministry statement said the groups functioned as civil society organisations, but they were in fact “controlled by senior leaders of the PFLP” and appointed many of its members “including activists participating in terrorist activities”. .
The ministry alleged that the groups used humanitarian funds obtained from European governments and other sources, some of which were fraudulently “as a central source for funding the activity of the PFLP”.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz called on governments and organizations around the world to “abstain from contact with organizations and groups that fan the flames of terror.”
Israel’s move faced outrage from the Palestinian government and human rights groups.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “unequivocally condemns and denies Israel’s unrelenting attack on Palestinian civil society and human rights defenders.”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories said it was “concerned” by the move, accusing Israel of “a protracted stigmatization campaign against these and other organisations” that have “failed to carry out their important work”. harmed their ability”.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US “will engage our Israeli partners to learn more about the basis of these designations.”
“The Israeli government did not give us advance warning” that the groups would be named, he said.
“We believe that respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are key to responsible and accountable governance,” Price told reporters.
Shawan Jabreen, the head of al-Haq, one of the banned groups, told AFP the designation was a “political decision” that had nothing to do with security matters, but was intended to “stop the work of these organisations”.
In a joint statement, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch noted that the Israeli designation declared the activities of the six groups “effectively illegal”, subjecting their members to raids and arrests by security forces.
“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement,” Amnesty and HRW said.
Israel-based rights groups also opposed the move.
Adala called it an “unprecedented attack” that “fits authoritarian and colonial regimes and constitutes political persecution under the pretext of anti-terrorism legislation”.
And B’Tselem said the move was “characteristic of a totalitarian regime, with the explicit aim of shutting down these organizations.”
In May, Israel’s Shin Bet Internal Security Agency said it had evidence that civil society groups had “deceived and deceived” European states, whose donations of millions of euros fund the PFLP’s “terrorist terrorist activities”.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)