Israeli security forces raided the offices of three NGOs in the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank before dawn on Tuesday in what Palestinian workers in those offices say was a retaliatory move following a recent vote at the United Nations.
Entering before dawn on Tuesday, troops wrenched open the doors of the Women's Union, the Palestinian NGO Network and Addameer, an advocate for Palestinians in Israeli jails.
The raids were the first of their kind in a Palestinian city since the West Bank government won an initiative at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29 which recognized a de facto Palestinian state.
"This comes in the context of the UN's decision," Allam Jarrar of the Palestinian NGO Network told reporters on Tuesday morning, "boycott Israel" leaflets strewn on the floor of the raided office.
"This a message by the Israelis to the Palestinians, saying that when they take decisions or form patriotic organizations to seek their freedom, the occupation will use aggression to try and stop us," he said.
A statement put out by the group Addameer, which works to secure rights for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, condemned the raid, calling it an "attack on human rights and civil society organizations," and describing it as an "attempt to cripple solidarity with the prisoners movement."
According to the group's statement:
At 3 am this morning, 11 December 2012, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights office was raided by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Four laptops, one hard disk and a video camera were taken among other materials. The IOF destroyed the office; desks, ransacked filing cabinets and files and scattered files around the office. At this moment, we are not clear as to what has been confiscated, but in the coming days we will know more about the level of destruction and damage. This is the first raid by the IOF since 2002, when the Addameer office was raided during the invasion of Ramallah.
Agence France-Presse adds:
The Israeli military said it was checking reports of the raids, which Addameer said also targeted the Ramallah offices of the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees and the Palestinian NGO Network. [...]
Although the West Bank city of Ramallah nominally falls under full Palestinian administrative and security control, Israeli forces regularly carry out raids in the city and its surroundings.