Israeli occupation forces raided, sealed and imposed closure orders on the offices of several prominent Palestinian human rights, feminist and social services organizations in the West Bank early Thursday, August 18.
Hours earlier, soldiers shot in the chest and killed Wasim Nasser Khalifa, 18.
The teen was fatally injured during confrontations that erupted when Jewish worshippers, escorted by the Israeli military, infiltrated the northern West Bank city of Nablus to pray at Joseph’s Tomb. Thirty Palestinians were injured, two of them severely, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.
The Israeli military frequently raids Nablus late at night to allow settlers to access the archaeological site that is considered sacred by Muslims, Christians and Jews.
Israeli soldiers sometimes shoot at Palestinians during those raids, injuring them with live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas. The army also imposes curfews and strict military closures on the city, disrupting people’s lives.
Israel raids prominent groups
Palestinians confronted Israeli soldiers that raided the offices of several human rights, feminist and social services organizations in the Ramallah area in the central West Bank early Thursday, August 18.
Some bullets & sponge grenades we collected this morning outside office.#Israeli military forcibly raided @alhaq_org. They bludgeoned door of Episcopal Church below, leaving long glass shards, sponge-grenades, teargas canisters, rubber coated & live bullets outside#StandWithThe6 pic.twitter.com/5BC8xfPy1x
— Dr Susan Power (@Susanrosepower) August 18, 2022
According to Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights group, the Israeli military entered the Ramallah area at 3 am and raided its offices as well as those of Addameer, the Bisan Center for Research & Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
Israel designated the six organizations “terrorist groups” late last year.
A seventh organization, the Union of Health Work Committees, was also reportedly raided on Thursday.
More than 20 members of US Congress have demanded that the Biden administration publicly reject the designations and pressure Israel to rescind the measures.
Instead, during his visit to Jerusalem last month, Biden pledged to shield Israel from accountability, including at the UN and International Criminal Court.
The US has been silent for too long. @USAmbIsrael must visit @alhaq_org, @Addameer & others today to make clear the US will not stand for the criminalization of Palestinian human rights and legal groups. If using the law is not a legitimate form of resistance then what is left? https://t.co/voFvlnWKE2
— Mike S. Omer-Man (@MikeOmerMan) August 18, 2022
And instead of pressuring Israel to rescind the designations, the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers decided to resume meetings of the EU-Israel Association Council, a high-level forum.
And while nine EU members have rejected the Israeli allegations, the bloc’s headquarters in Brussels has pointedly refused to do so—despite Israel’s failure to back up its charges with evidence.
Israel raided & ordered 7 of Palestine’s premier rights groups closed. This alarming escalation stems from decades-long failure of intl community to challenge Israeli apartheid. Vital that states take action to #StandWiththe6—fate of Palestinian civil society hangs in the balance pic.twitter.com/7aROPBeHsW
— Omar Shakir (@OmarSShakir) August 18, 2022
With no meaningful consequences imposed on Israel over the designations, and instead only rewards, Tel Aviv was seemingly emboldened to escalate its crackdown on the Palestinian groups.
Israeli forces “forcibly blasted through the locked security door of Al-Haq’s offices, bursting the door from its hinges and raiding the premises, setting off the alarms,” the rights group said on Thursday.
This attack threatens the future of Palestinian civil society & is an insult to all those dedicated to upholding human rights.
— Addameer –الضمير (@Addameer) August 18, 2022
The military also broke the front door of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, located below Al-Haq’s offices, “leaving long shards of exposed broken glass, sponge-grenades, and several teargas canisters, rubber-coated and live bullets around the property.”
The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem said that soldiers occupied its entire complex, including “the church sanctuary, parish hall, church offices, rectory and the Arab Episcopal Medical Center.”
The diocese, which condemned the “flagrant attack,” added that “the sound of gunshots, stun grenades and the smashing of doors caused terror among the families living inside the compound.”
Al-Haq said that the Israeli army raided each room in its offices and rummaged through files and trashed its premises.
The army “welded a new reinforced iron door to the outside of Al-Haq’s office,” preventing entry. Soldiers also posted a military order commanding the closure of the office “for the safety and security of the area.”
1. Our team arrived at Al-Haq’s offices this morning & found the door, which IOF had bolted shut early morning, had been opened by the public, protesting against the targeting of civil society organizations!We assure you, Israel's arbitrary & unlawful actions will not silence us. pic.twitter.com/unSJ0Hhk5z
— Al-Haq الحق (@alhaq_org) August 18, 2022
Defense for Children International-Palestine said that soldiers took “client files related to Palestinian child detainees” that it represents in Israeli military courts.
Security camera footage shows that they also removed other equipment, though because occupation forces welded the door shut, “it is unclear exactly what items were confiscated,” DCIP said.
Israeli forces raided the child rights group’s offices in July last year and seized files and equipment.
Israeli apartheid regime shuts down children’s rights organization @DCIPalestine
Israel will get away with such unlawful acts because the Biden Administration, like its predecessors, continue to defend Israel and unconditionally provide military, economic & diplomatic support. https://t.co/HFHXqjICSt
— Jamil Dakwar (@jdakwar) August 18, 2022
Bisan, a Palestinian research group, said that the Israeli military had sealed its doors and posted “a military order declaring the organization unlawful.”
BREAKING: This morning, occupation forces raided and forcibly closed Bisan Center for Research and Development by sealing shut the doors of the center with iron, and leaving behind a military order declaring the organization unlawful. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/QC2KtOm6QP
— Bisan Center for Research & Development (@BisanResearch) August 18, 2022
The Union of Agricultural Work Committees posted security camera footage of Israeli soldiers confiscating materials from their office on Thursday morning:
BREAKING 🚨 The Israeli occupation forces raided UAWC’s office early this morning 18th of August, as well as the offices of the other #6organizations. They destroyed office equipment, confiscated materials and left a closing order behind. pic.twitter.com/hVaHrRIaKS
— Union of Agricultural Work Committees (@UAWC1986) August 18, 2022
Addameer, a prisoners rights group, posted photos of the closure orders posted by the military on its doors:
BREAKING: this morning Israeli occupation forces raided the offices of Addameer, as well as @alhaq_org @bisanresearch @UAWC1986 & @of_committees. Our doors were broken down, material confiscated, and a military order left behind. #StandWithThe6 pic.twitter.com/47FvYh3LAC
— Addameer –الضمير (@Addameer) August 18, 2022
Sahar Francis, the director of Addameer, said that her organization and the other targeted groups “will continue in our work in supporting the Palestinian people and defending Palestinian rights in the international arena, especially in front of the International Criminal Court and in the UN.”
Message from @saharfrancis, General Director of @Addameer on the forcible raids and closures on seven civil society organisations this morning and the reponse of the organisations against such illegal attacks #StandWithThe6 pic.twitter.com/hOOlgeDTZz
— Al-Haq الحق (@alhaq_org) August 18, 2022
The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees noted that Thursday morning was “not the first time that the occupation forces stormed our office”:
At dawn today, the occupation forces stormed the office of UPWC, confiscated its property, equipment and files, and closed the office in a brutal manner. It is worth mentioning that it is not the first time that the occupation forces stormed our office. pic.twitter.com/eJwxSjBBaJ
— Union of Palestinian Women's Committees (@of_committees) August 18, 2022
Watch: The office of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC) in #Ramallah after the Israeli army raided the place. The army raided and sealed the doors of 7 NGO's that were declared as ”terrorist groups” last year by Defence Minister Gantz pic.twitter.com/8803E8OvwF
— Oren Ziv (@OrenZiv_) August 18, 2022
“Clear attempt to repress”
Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, said that the raids and closures of the Palestinian groups is “another clear attempt to repress those documenting and pursuing accountability for rights violations.”
Michael Sfard, an Israeli lawyer representing some of the designated groups, said that the attacks on the Palestinian organizations was motivated out of “desire to frustrate the International Criminal Court investigations.”
Three of the groups raided on Thursday – Al-Haq, Addameer and Defense for Children International-Palestine—have provided evidence to The Hague’s investigation of war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Fatou Bensouda, the previous ICC chief prosecutor, authorized an investigation in Palestine during March last year. Her successor, Karim Khan, has so far not commented publicly on Israel’s persecution of Palestinian groups cooperating with the court.
Benny Gantz, the Israeli defense minister who imposed the “terror” designations, is a likely person of interest in the ICC’s probe over his role in Israel’s targeting of civilians during its bombing campaigns in Gaza.
Al-Haq warned on Thursday that there is risk of Israel seizing the targeted groups’ finances and assets, as well as the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of their staff members.
The group called for “concrete measures, such as trade restrictions and arms embargoes,” to hold Israel to account for its “systematic inhumane acts of apartheid, including the persecution of Palestinian human rights defenders.”
The Palestinian Authority foreign ministry condemned the raids and said that lack of international accountability has enabled Israel’s “continued war against [the] international human rights movement.”
Following Thursday’s raids, the European Union tweeted that it would “continue to stand by international law” and support organizations upholding “international law, human rights and democratic values.”
But the EU pointedly failed to condemn Israel’s actions or call for them to be rescinded. The foreign affairs spokesperson for the EU did not respond to a request for comment.
The EU’s tweet attracted skepticism and scorn from observers who pointed towards the EU’s “willful complicity” in Israel’s rights abuses.
Israel raided 6 human rights groups, confiscated their property and welded their offices shut after declaring them “terrorists.” Pathetic response from @EUpalestinians is a photo-op. EU failure to punish the occupier and demand it reverse its criminal act is willful complicity https://t.co/p5FxL1dXLB
— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) August 18, 2022
This won't stop unless concrete action is taken @EUpalestinians. Israel's behavior certainly violates the EU-Israel Association Agreement, and so at very least this year's planned Association Council meeting should be scrapped. Cc @JosepBorrellF https://t.co/siycNVfDEP
— Rohan Talbot (@rohantalbot) August 18, 2022
Looking forward to learn, beyond the critical importance of the optics of this visit, what the European Union intends to do if and when Israel freezes bank accounts, seizes assets and arrests staffers in the 6 NGOs. https://t.co/5Y92MyFc5V
— Sarit Michaeli (@saritm0) August 18, 2022
Likewise, the US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Washington was “concerned” about the raids but did not condemn them.
“He said Israeli officials have pledged to provide further information, without detailing what has been received so far or what conclusions US officials have drawn from it,” the Associated Press reported.
During a press conference on Thursday, the targeted Palestinian organizations pledged to keep working, saying that “we don’t take our legitimacy from an Israeli military commander, but from our people and Palestinian law.”
(The Electronic Intifada) by Maureen Clare Murphy
scorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/sahelicot92/November 26, 2023