Israel Raids Palestinian Civil Society

The targeted groups were documenting Israeli war crimes in Palestine and collaborating with investigations into Israel’s actions, including the probe by the International Criminal Court, Tanupriya Singh reports. 

Israeli forces break into Defense for Children International-Palestine’s office in Al-Bireh. (DCI-P)

By Tanupriya Singh
Peoples Dispatch

In a further escalation of Israel’s ongoing campaign of repression, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) ransacked and shut down the offices of seven leading Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.  

The early morning raids targeted Al Haq, prisoner advocacy group Addameer, Bisan Center for Human Rights, Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).

The six organizations have been under constant threat ever since Israel designated them as “terrorist” organizations in 2021. The seventh target was the Union of Health Work Committees, which Israel declared “unlawful” in 2020 and whose offices it shut down in 2021. 

Following Thursday morning’s raids, the organizations issued statements detailing how the IOF had broken down the doors of their offices, confiscated materials, welded and sealed their doors shut with iron sheets, and left behind a military order.

Addameer stated that the notice declared the organization “forcibly closed” on account of “security in the region and to combat the infrastructure of terrorism.” 

The UAWC also shared footage of the raid and stated that the IOF had destroyed office equipment and seized materials from its offices. The IOF similarly seized equipment from the offices of the UPWC and loaded them onto a truck to be taken away. 

DCI-P also shared photos of the raid. It stated that client files were confiscated and their office sealed and ordered closed. The IOF confirmed the raids on Thursday, stating that it had shut down seven organizations. 

In October 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defense had declared the six groups as “terrorist organizations” under its anti-terrorism laws, citing their alleged ties to the banned, left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Over the following months, Israel failed to present any evidence to substantiate these claims despite repeated demands.

The targeted organizations were carrying out the critical work of documenting the Israeli occupation’s ongoing war crimes in Palestine, and had been collaborating with ongoing investigations into Israel’s actions, including in the probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Israel’s actions have been widely condemned by rights groups as well as U.N. experts who warned of Israel’s “apparent misuse of anti-terrorism legislation to attack some of the leading civil society organizations in Palestine.”

[Related: Israel’s ‘Terrorist’ Smear of Palestinian Rights Groups]

In November 2021, The Intercept+972 Magazine, and Local Call published an investigation into a classified dossier prepared by Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet to justify the actions against the six organizations. The investigation affirmed that there was no proof behind Israel’s claims. 

The document in question had been sent to European diplomats in May, following which, the European Union suspended funding to Al Haq and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Finally, in June 2022, the E.U. announced that it would resume funding. This was after a review by the European Anti-Fraud Office found “no suspicions of irregularities and/or fraud.”

Early in July, nine European countries — Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden — also declared that they would resume working with the six organizations. A joint statement noted that Israel had provided “no substantial information” that would justify reviewing their existing policies. 

Even as the credibility of its claims dwindled quickly abroad, Israel refused to relent. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated on Aug. 17 that the organizations were operating “under the guise of performing humanitarian activities to further the goals of the PFLP terrorist organization, to strengthen the organization and to recruit operatives.”

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, another major Palestinian advocacy organization, reported on Thursday that the raids had taken places just hours after the Israeli military commander for the Occupied Palestinian Territory rejected an application filed by the organizations.

Back in February, five out of the six groups had filed a procedural objection against their declaration as “unlawful associations” under the 1945 Emergency (Defense) Regulations. The designations were made after the groups were declared as “terrorist organizations.” The objection demanded a complete cancellation of the decision, given Israel’s repeated refusal to turn over the supposed “evidence” against the organizations. 

Meanwhile, Israel also stepped up its repressive tactics. Last month, the Defense Ministry sent a letter to the lawyers representing the six organizations, claiming that their work could be considered a violation of Israel’s domestic anti-terror laws. 

It added that the lawyers were required to receive permission from the Ministries of Defense and Finance in order to collect fees from the organizations (for representing them in court), or face up to seven years in prison. The letter was sent two days prior to a hearing on an appeal filed by Al-Haq and DCI-P. At the time, Michael Sfard, the lawyer representing Al Haq, stated that “it is very difficult to not interpret it as a threat from the government.”

Sfard also condemned Thursday’s raids as an attempt to thwart the ICC investigation, in which Defense Minister Gantz could apparently be a suspect himself. 

Meanwhile, in a welcome show of solidarity, Al Haq announced that members of the public had pried open the doors to its offices which had been sealed by the IOF earlier that day. “We assure you, Israel’s arbitrary and unlawful actions will not silence us,” the organization declared. 

Tanupriya Singh is a correspondent for Peoples Dispatch.

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.

13 comments for “Israel Raids Palestinian Civil Society

  1. Arch Stanton
    August 20, 2022 at 18:43

    Poor Palestinians, they are enduring the equivalent of hell on earth. Their oppressors are cruel & evil and those who turn a blind eye to this apartheid and slow burning genocide are just as complicit.

  2. daryl Rush
    August 20, 2022 at 15:17

    Israel makes no attempt to hide its madness, why should it normal news media ignores its atrocities. Our proxy war in Ukraine obfuscates everything even climate catastrophe, our collective demise. And now even the war in Ukrane “news” interest is waning also. Overwhelm is obfuscation.
    Thanks you Consortium news.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    August 20, 2022 at 11:01

    I truly hope to live long enough (82 yrs now) to see israel made to pay the price of all the crimes and injustices committed against Palestinians.

  4. Peter Loeb
    August 20, 2022 at 08:50

    An analyst writing in CN (I think it was Vijay Prashad) once observed that the powerful nations and their allies
    never follow UN laws or decisions. This has always been true with Israel and it holds many times over for
    the US itself.

    (Unless you feel that sending tons of advanced weapons to the Ukraine etc. is “self defense.”)

  5. Eric
    August 19, 2022 at 21:30

    What will all the international proponents of “rule-based order” do about this?

    Nothing, I predict.

    • Ed Walsh
      August 19, 2022 at 22:08

      You nailed it 100%.

    • Vesa
      August 21, 2022 at 03:08

      The rule is: You obey the rules, we have set.

      The collective west (incl Israel) is just disgusting.

      I hope that some day China, Russia, Iran and others would liberate Palestine.

    • Daniel
      August 21, 2022 at 08:45

      Of course you are right. The “rules based order” (vomit) support this. They DID this.

      Some animals are more equal than others.

  6. mgr
    August 19, 2022 at 17:40

    Keep in mind that Israel is considered by itself and the US to be the premier democracy in the ME. That word, “democracy,” though, I don’t think it means what they think it means. Of course, Israel can be anything it wants to be. But a democracy? I guess maybe they’ve got the apartheid version…

  7. August 19, 2022 at 17:31

    How not to see kindred spirits in the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity and the crimes against humanity committed against the Jewish people from the middle of the third decade of the twentieth century, until the middle of its fourth decade. What horrifying irony.

  8. doris
    August 19, 2022 at 15:26

    And they claim that God is on their side!
    No “loving” god would condone such evil like the three main patriarchal religions dish out on a daily basis. God, the Father, without Goddess, the Mother, to balance out that insane, punitive testosterone mentality gets us the kind of world we have today. (Most men are just as much victims of the insane patriarch as women.) We need to get these patriarchal perpetrators out of power before they slaughter the planet entirely.

    Like Holly Near sings, “I ain’t afraid of your Yahweh – I ain’t afraid of your Allah – I ain’t afraid of your Jesus – I’m afraid of what you do in the name of your god.”

    • Daniel
      August 21, 2022 at 08:59

      God IS on their side, only not a God you or I or most people would recognize on a pathway to enlightenment. Their God is the net of total surveillance and digital manipulation our intelligence agencies have created to control societies, punish enemies, and disappear dissidents. That is their God. And it is very much on their side at the moment.

      We would be right to recognize it as the Devil.

  9. Carolyn L Zaremba
    August 19, 2022 at 14:56

    The IOF and the Israeli government have even surpassed themselves in their violence and criminal damage. The United States government supports this because it reflects the policies of the U.S. against all of the rest of the world. Add this to the wanton destruction of Palestinian homes, the stealing of Palestinian land, the murder of Palestinian people as policy, and you have a perfect example of a police state.

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