JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel is drawing criticism from within and without for its decision to designate six Palestinian rights organizations as “terrorist organizations.” The US, along with Israel and its allies, consider the group to be a terrorist organization.
Israel’s Ministry of Defense says the six groups operate as an organized network under the leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP), which Israel considers to be a terror entity. The six organizations are: Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Bisan Center, Union of Palestinian Women's Committees and Union of Agricultural Work Committees.
"The decision was made on a factual and legal basis after this issue was examined in the Ministry of Justice, and in this sense, it relies on a solid basis,” said Gideon Saar, Israel’s Minister of Justice.
The PFLP is a Palestinian-Marxist organization known for planning and carrying out terror attacks. In 2019, the group was linked to the bombing attack that killed a 17-year-old girl and wounded her father.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the designation and Palestinian activists from the groups called on the international community to help reverse the decision.
"Closing the organizations and declaring them terrorist organizations will affect their work on a daily basis and will affect their programs and affect their staff,” said Shawan Jabrin, director of Al-Haq, one of the groups designated as a terror organization.
“This will corner, and put I think, particularly I think put Palestinian Authority in a corner,” said Jabrin.
The U.S. stopped short of condemning Israel, but State Department Spokesman Ned Price said Israel gave the U.S. no advance warning.
“We believe respect for human rights; fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance. We'll be engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for these designations,” said Price.
Israel said in its initial statement that it had updated the US administration ahead of time on its intention to designate the groups.
Israel Security Authorities (ISA) says the groups constitute a "lifeline" for the PFLP by raising funds and money laundering, employing and financially compensating terrorists, and facilitating the recruitment of activists to the military arm of the PFLP.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, representatives of Israel’s Shin Bet security services and Defense Ministry are heading to Washington to present Israel’s evidence that the groups are indeed connected with the PFLP. They say they have clear-cut evidence, including footage and receipts that funds were transferred to the terror organization.
Olga Deutsch, Vice President of NGO Monitor, says her organization has been trying to show the connection between humanitarian groups and terror organizations like the PFLP for years.
“Increasingly over the years, we have seen connections. They go to conferences. They share the same platforms,” Deutsch told CBN News. “They have Shawan Jabrin, which is the head of Al-Haq, which is one of the most prominent Palestinian human rights groups, representing PFLP in many formal meetings.”
Deutsch says it’s a dramatic decision. The humanitarian groups gave legitimacy to the PFLP on the international stage.
“Their legitimacy is now not shattered but crumbled in pieces. I don’t see how they can continue claiming that they promote human rights when actually, they are clearly an extended arm of a terror organization,” said Deutsch.
Deutsch believes the paradox is that it is the Palestinian people who are the victims of the scam. Instead of being served by true human rights groups, their needs are hijacked for political and terrorist causes.