image Photo: Flash90

Israel declares 6 Palestinian groups “terrorist”

The Palestinian civil groups received the designation upon declaration by the Israeli Defense Ministry (IMoD) that they were linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP) terror group

By Erin Viner

 The Marxist–Leninist, revolutionary-socialist PFLP is notorious for having pioneered armed aircraft-hijackings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It has been recognized as a terror group by the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia.

 According to a statement obtained by TV7, the IMoD branded the Palestinian groups following extensive investigations in a joint decision with the Israel Security Agency (ISA, also known as the Shin Bet) and the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF).

The designated groups are: the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC), Addameer – Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Al-Haq Organization, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), and the Union Of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC).  Most if not all of them have been the recipients of substantial grants and financial support international donors, including European Union member states and the United Nations.

All 6 of the blacklisted groups “constitute an arm“ of the PFLP leadership – “the main activity of which is the liberation of Palestine and destruction of Israel,” proclaimed the Israeli Defense Ministry, amounting to a “network” operating under the guise of being civic society organizations “on the international front” to support PFLP “activity and further its goals.” They are moreover controlled by senior PFLP leaders, and employed PFLP members – included those “who participated in terror activity,” said the statement.

In addition, the groups were found to “serve as a central source for the financing” of the PFLP, through the funeling of illicitly solicited ‘humanitarian donations’ from Europe and international organizations via “forgery and deceit.” These funds, said the Defense Ministry, were even used by the PFLP “for payments to security prisoners’ families and the “Shaheeds” (Martyrs’) wages for activists, enlistment of activists, promotion of terror activity and strengthening, promotion of the Popular Front activity in Jerusalem, and distribution of the Organization’s messages and ideology.”

Just last May, 4 suspects including a Spanish national were arrested by the ISA on suspicion of funneling European contributions for Palestinians to the PFLP.

Two of the groups, Addameer and Defense for Children International – Palestine, were swift to denounce the designation as an “attempt to eliminate Palestinian civil society.”

Pro-Palestinian, leftwing organizations that have long been critical of the Jewish State were also quick to reject the decision. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International claimed in a joint statement that the designation will permit Israeli authorities to close the groups’ offices, seize assets and arrest staffers in the West Bank. The United Nations Human Rights Office (UNHRC) in the Palestinian territories expressed “alarm” over the ‘vague or irrelevant’ charges, while insisting that “counter-terrorism legislation must not be used to constrain legitimate human rights and humanitarian work” and that “these designations are the latest development in a long stigmatizing campaign against these and other organizations, damaging their ability to deliver on their crucial work.”

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Washington plans on “engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations.” During a telephone briefing with reporters, Price noted that “the Israeli government did not give us advance warning” of the move, while adding that the US believes “respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance.”

The European Union issued a statement asserting that, “past allegations of the misuse of EU funds in relation to some of our Palestinian partners have not been substantiated.”

It is interesting to note that the extremist PFLP itself did not issue an outright denial of the charges. Admitting to ties with civil society organizations across the West Bank and Gaza, PFLP official Kayed Al-Ghoul was cited by Reuters as saying, “It is part of the rough battle Israel is launching against the Palestinian people and against civil society groups, in order to exhaust them.”