- 19 Aug 22
The move by Israel against Palestinian civil action organisations has drawn criticism from the United Nations, which said the raid "cannot be taken lightly" and human rights watchdogs.
The Israeli army has shut down seven Palestinian civil society organisations in the West Bank just hours after a Palestinian man was shot dead during clashes that broke out following an Israeli raid on occupied Nablus.
20-year-old Waseem Nasr Khalifa from the Balata refugee camp on the outskirts of Nablus city was shot dead on Thirsday, according to the official Wafa news agency.
عاجل| ارتقاء الشاب وسيم نصر خليفة من مخيم بلاطة شرق نابلس، متأثرا بجراحه التي أصيب بها خلال مواجهات عنيفة في محيط قبر يوسف. pic.twitter.com/05umbT6tZS
— شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) August 17, 2022
Separately, a large Israeli army convoy raided the town of Ramallah in the central occupied West Bank at dawn on Thursday.
Israeli forces broke into and shut down the offices of multiple civil society and human rights organisations, even blocking the entrances with iron doors. Israeli authorities have not given any compelling evidence to UN agencies or NGO partners in relation to its accusations of Palestinian NGOs funding militants, the UN said.
Six of the organisations raided on Thursday had been outlawed by Israel as “terrorist” organisations in October 2021, and accused of ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
They included Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq rights group, the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), the Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Palestine chapter of the Geneva-based Defence for Children International.
Israel raids and closes 7 Palestinian NGOs and human rights organizations in Ramallah: pic.twitter.com/gEUFuLcWSO
— Palestine Info Center (@palinfoen) August 18, 2022
The seventh organisation raided was the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC).The organisations’ offices were ransacked and their equipment confiscated, while a military order stamped on the welded door declared the organisations "unlawful".
The UHWC runs several hospitals and dozens of clinics across the occupied West Bank. The closures mean that it is illegal under Israeli military law for the employees to enter their offices.
The Addameer prisoner rights group said on Twitter the army had left an order that declared the organisation “forcibly closed in the name of security in the region, and to combat the infrastructure of terrorism”.
“This is an astonishing attack on our needed human rights work,” the group wrote on Twitter.
The organisations conduct critical human rights work in the occupied West Bank – including providing legal aid to detainees, documenting Israeli human rights abuses, conducting local and international advocacy, and working with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations.
🚨🚨Breaking: This morning, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) raided Al-Haq’s office in Ramallah, confiscated items and shut down the main entrance with an iron plate leaving behind a military order declaring the organization unlawful 1/2 pic.twitter.com/Y8yqRdU4Db
— Al-Haq الحق (@alhaq_org) August 18, 2022
The EU recently decided to unfreeze funds allocated to six of the Palestinian NGOs, but despite the vote, the European Commission did not announce that the funds would be unfrozen.
Israel’s designation of Palestinian NGOs as "terrorist organisations" in October 2021 was widely condemned by the international community and rights groups as “unjustified” and “baseless”.
No evidence was found or provided by the Israeli government to substantiate its claims surrounding the six organisations.
"Despite offers to review the accusations to determine if funds have been diverted, Israeli authorities have not given any compelling evidence to UN agencies nor NGO partners working in the OPT to support these designations," the UN said, referring to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
It added that the "the breadth of the Israeli 2016 Anti-Terrorism legislation and its impact on the presumption of innocence present serious concerns under international law."
Meanwhile, UN human rights experts found it "disturbing."
“Israel’s disturbing designation of these organisations as ‘terrorist organisations’ has not been accompanied by any public concrete and credible evidence,” said a statement attributed to human rights experts under the auspices of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Israel's raids of the seven Palestinian human rights organisations have similarly caused a diplomatic backlash and drew criticism from the UN and European Union as well as the US.
Visit hwc-pal.org/ for more information on the Union of Health Work Committees in Palestine.
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