Israeli raids of Palestinian not-for-profit organizations Thursday which the Israeli occupation has designated “terrorist organizations” caused a diplomatic backlash and drew criticism from the UN and European Union as well as the US.
“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.”
At the time of the Israeli designations of the NGOs as terrorist entities, UN human rights experts found it “disturbing.”
“Israel’s disturbing designation of these organizations as ‘terrorist organizations’ 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.
The Office of the European Union Representative to Palestine announced that the allegations that Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that the Israeli occupation sealed misused the funds of the union are unproven and that they will continue to support Palestinian NGOs.
Several human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also condemned the Israeli raids.
The Israeli occupation forces stormed and ordered the closure of seven Palestinian NGOs in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh, witnesses said.
The EU last week 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.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Thursday that Washington was “concerned” about the closures and had “conveyed the message that there must be a very high bar to take action against civil society organizations.”
The NGOs that were raided were the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq Center, Bisan Center for Research and Development, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, the Union of Health Work Committees, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and Defense for Children International – Palestine.
Last year, Israeli authorities decided to close six of these NGOs, claiming that they were “terrorist organizations.”
An Anadolu Agency correspondent reported that the Union of Health Work Committees was not on the Israeli list issued last year.
Witnesses told Anadolu Agency that during the raids, the Israeli occupation forces confiscated files and computers and destroyed their contents.
Clashes also erupted between dozens of Palestinians and the Israeli occupation forces during the raids, with the latter using live and rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said in a statement that its crews dealt with one injury from live ammunition and treated 33 others who were affected by tear gas.
On Oct. 19, 2021, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued an order to close six NGOs on the grounds that they are “terrorist organizations” and are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.