The Israeli government has recently designated Palestinian rights organizations as "terrorist organizations," sparking a wave of criticism against the decision. According to Israel's Ministry of Defense, all of the six groups operate as an organized network led by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP), which is considered by Israel as a terror entity.
CBN News reported that the groups Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Bisan Center, Union of Palestinian Women's Committees and Union of Agricultural Work Committees are the groups that have been named as "terrorist organizations" by the Israeli government. The country's Minister of Justice remarked that "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."
The 1967-founded Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP) is a a secular Palestinian Marxist-Leninist and revolutionary socialist organization that was started by Palestinian Christian politician George Habash. The group has taken a hard line on Palestinian national issues and has opposed the moderate stance of Fatah, the nationalist social democratic political party. PFLP is known to carry out terrorist attacks and is recognized as a terrorist organization by countries such as the U.S., Japan, Canada, Australia, and the European Union.
According to Al Jazeera, Israel's Defence Minister Benny Gantz on Friday signed a military order officially outlawing these six organizations. Al-Haq director Shawan Jabrin was one of the first to decry the decision, claiming that this would affect the six organizations' "work on a daily basis...programs...[and] staff." He argued, "This will corner, and put I think, particularly I think put Palestinian Authority in a corner."
"The baseless allegations represent an alarming and unjust escalation of attacks against the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice and the right to self-determination," Al-Haq said in a statement. The group added that the decision of the Israeli government to declare the six Palestinian NGOs as "terrorist organizations" is "no coincidence" because it "has come in the immediate aftermath of the opening of an International Criminal Court investigation into Israel's crimes in the Situation in Palestine."
Defence for Children International-Palestine general director Khaled Quzmar echoed the same sentiments, remarking that despite "years of delegitimization and disinformation campaigns" against them, the groups never wavered with their work. However, the Israeli authorities are now opting to "escalate repressive tactics by labelling civil society organisations as terrorists."
Quzmar sent a message to the international community, saying, "We demand that the international community use all available means to hold Israeli authorities accountable...and act to end complicity and support to the Israeli apartheid regime."
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department Spokesman Ned Price admitted that Israel did not give an advance warning on the decision to declare the six Palestinian NGOs as "terrorist organizations." Price underscored the importance of "fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society" in "responsible and responsive governance" and pledged to engage with Israel with regards to the new "terrorist organization" designations.