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Israel Arrests Suspects in Deadly Bombing Attack: One is Linked to European-funded BDS Supporters

Rina Shnerb

JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli security forces have made several arrests in the terror bombing that killed 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and seriously injured her father and brother in August. So far, those arrested include a senior member of a terror cell operating in the West Bank and another is linked to European-funded BDS activists.

Wafa News reports that security forces arrested Walid Muhammed Hanatsheh at his home in the village of At-Tira near Ramallah on Thursday. He was among 13 Palestinian suspects arrested during overnight raids conducted by IDF troops and border police.

NGO Monitor reports that Hanatsheh has been a dedicated member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) since the second intifada (in the early 2000's) and was arrested several times by Israeli forces for his activity in the terror group. 

As of July 2019, he served as the finance and administration manager of the Health Work Committees (HWC), a Palestinian health organization active in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

His arrest comes just days after Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, announced it had arrested several suspects in the attack that killed Rina. The suspects were identified as Qassem a-Karim Rajah Shibli, Yasan Hasin Hasni Majamas, Nizam Sami Yousef Ulad Mahmoud and cell leader Samer Arbid  – all members of the PFLP.

Shin Bet said Arbid allegedly prepared the improvised explosive device and detonated it as the Shnerb family approached the Ein Bubin Spring in August.

Israel's Justice Ministry reportedly opened an investigation into "potential wrongdoing" by Shin Bet officers after Arbid was left in critical condition following his interrogation. The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli officers conducted a "violent interrogation" but went "too far." The terror suspect was taken for treatment at  Hadassah-University Medical Center on Mount Scopus.

NGO Monitor reports that for many years, Arbid worked as an accountant for Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian organization that provides legal representation to Palestinians detained in Israel. The organization is closely linked to the PFLP.

Addameer has received funding from numerous members of the European Union and European government institutions, including the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Irish Aid, and Spain.

According to NGO Monitor, Arbid also worked for the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), an organization affiliated with the PFLP.

The UAWC also receives funding from European countries. NGO Monitor reports that the UAWC has received nearly NOK 39 million ($4.3M) from Norwegian People’s Aid and more than €8 million from the Netherlands since 2016.

Both Addameer and UAWC have extensive ties with the anti-Israel BDS movement, which seeks to isolate Israel and strangle its economy.

The Jerusalem Post reports that in 2014, Addameer and UAWC joined other Palestinian groups in calling for a "legal intifada" and "an intensified struggle and more boycotts, divestment and sanctions."

NGO Monitor President Prof. Gerald Steinberg is calling on European governments to stop funding organizations whose members are accused of murdering Israelis.

"For years, we have been warning about the phenomenon of European governmental support for Palestinian civil-society organizations linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an internationally-designated terror-group," said Steinberg. "This week's announcement makes clear that the PFLP remains active and deadly."

"Years of NGO Monitor research shows that Addameer, which advocates itself on behalf of PFLP terrorists, plays an integral role in the PFLP-NGO network," Steinberg said. "Our reports on the group, which previously identified Arbid by name, leave no doubt that European governments and UN agencies should immediately cease funding Addameer and launch a thorough investigation of how taxpayers' funds were disbursed to a group with a clear, terror-linked record."

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