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A Palestinian boy sits on a chair with a national flag as Israeli authorities demolish a school site in the village of Yatta, south of the West Bank city of Hebron on July 11, 2018. (Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images)

A Palestinian boy sits on a chair with a national flag as Israeli authorities demolish a school site in the village of Yatta, south of the West Bank city of Hebron on July 11, 2018. (Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel Condemned for Designating Palestinian Human Rights Groups 'Terrorist Organizations'

"Labeling effective NGOs 'terrorists' is a textbook way to evade accountability for human rights violations—and an affront to everyone who cares about peace," said Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Kenny Stancil

Progressives on Friday denounced Israel for classifying six Palestinian human rights groups as "terrorist organizations," a move that effectively criminalizes them.

"There must be immediate consequences from the U.S. and the international community for this brazen act."

The six groups, most of which document human rights violations by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), are Addameer, AlHaq, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Defense for Children International—Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees.

"The Israeli defense ministry said they were linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a secular political movement with an armed wing that in the past carried out attacks against Israel," reported The Guardian.

The Palestinian groups "were active under the cover of civil society organizations, but in practice belong and constitute an arm of the [PFLP] leadership, the main activity of which is the liberation of Palestine and destruction of Israel," the Israeli defense ministry said, according to the newspaper, which added: 

It claimed they were "controlled by senior leaders" of the PFLP and employed its members, including some who had "participated in terror activity."

The groups serve as a "central source" of financing for the PFLP and had received "large sums of money from European countries and international organizations," the defense ministry said.

The well-known human rights groups "have received funding from E.U. member states, the United Nations, and other donors," The Guardian noted.

In response to Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz's decision, Diala Shamas, an attorney at the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights, said that "after years of unsuccessful efforts to persuade, or bully, European and U.S. donors and allies to defund and discredit Palestinian human rights defenders, the Israeli government [gave] up and just criminalized them under Israeli law."

"This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement," Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a joint statement. "How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision."

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), former co-chair and current member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), tweeted that "Israel should rescind their blanket decision to label Palestinian civil rights organizations as terrorist groups. Many of these organizations are working to bring peace in the region and are vocal critics [of] Hamas and the PA."

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), also a CPC member, concurred, arguing that "labeling effective NGOs 'terrorists' is a textbook way to evade accountability for human rights violations—and an affront to everyone who cares about peace."

"There must be immediate consequences from the U.S. and the international community for this brazen act," Omar said.


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