EU expresses concerns about Israel’s raids, closures of Palestinian CSOs

Offices of 7 Palestinian civil and human rights organizations were stormed and sabotaged by Israeli forces in Ramallah on August 18. The forces also confiscated office items and machinery from the headquarters

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The European Union has expressed “concerns” about recent raids and measures taken by Israeli occupation against several Palestinian Civil Society Organizations in the occupied West Bank.

In the early morning of 18 August 2022, Israeli occupation forces forcibly entered, raided, ransacked and damaged properties of six designated Palestinian civil society organizations: Al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center for Research & Development, Defence for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees (UPWC).

According to the groups, the armed military forces bashed through the front doors of the offices, welded iron slabs over their entrances, and affixed to each a military order for the immediate closure of the organization and their offices.

Private property and information from three of the offices were seized, adjoining properties damaged and military debris, including sponge-grenades, teargas canisters, and rubber coated and live bullets, were left around the properties. The violent enforcement of these designations impose financial and safety risks upon these organizations, as their finances and assets may be confiscated and their staff members directly targeted, arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned.

The office of Health Work Committees (HWC) was also broken into and raided.

According to the military orders, having been previously designated by Israeli occupation as “terrorist” organisations on 19 October 2021 under Israel’s domestic Counter Terrorism Law, 2016, and later under military order on 3 November 2021 as “unlawful associations” per Article 319 of the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, the offices of the six organisations have been ordered shut as illegal.

In addition, the military order also considers the work activities conducted inside the organizations as illegal.

In a statement issued on Friday, the EU said it “always treats accusations of terrorism or links to terrorist groups with the utmost seriousness, and has been in touch with the Israeli authorities seeking substantial information regarding the designations. On the basis of information provided thus far, allegations of misuse of EU funds by these organisations have not been substantiated.”

“A free and strong civil society is indispensable for promoting democratic values and for advancing towards the two-state solution,” the 27-nation bloc added.

The EU also said it is “committed to its continued support to civil society that contributes to this purpose and to confidence building between Israelis and Palestinians. It is essential that such organizations are allowed to pursue their legitimate and peaceful activities.”

“As stated before, it is crucial to ensure that anti-terrorism legislation does not lead to undermining civil society and its valuable work and contributions to building fairer and more peaceful societies.”

The EU noted it will continue to support civil society organizations “that seek to promote respect for international law, human rights, and democratic values.”

On Friday, the Foreign Ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden also slammed Israel’s actions, expressing deep concerns and calling the actions as “not acceptable.”

On July 12, the nine countries also stated that “no substantial information was received from Israel that would justify reviewing our policy towards the 6 Palestinian NGOs on the basis of the Israeli decision to designate these NGOs as ‘terrorist organisations’. Should convincing evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly.”

(Source / 21.08.2022)

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