Israeli troops raid civil society groups in occupied West Bank

Agricultural group condemns Israel for 'absurd targeting of human rights organisations'

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Israeli troops raided a dozen civil society and human rights organisations in the occupied West Bank overnight on Thursday, including an agricultural group.

CCTV footage posted on the Twitter account of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees showed soldiers removing computers and equipment from its offices.

Israel said the organisations were linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular left-wing group that in the past has attacked civilians in Israel.

The groups deny any connection to the group.

“They destroyed office equipment, confiscated materials,” the union said.

“The international community should take serious action against the absurd targeting of human rights organisations.”

The union describes itself as “one of the largest agricultural development institutions in Palestine”.

It said the other raided groups were involved in documenting alleged human rights abuses by the Israeli military, such as shooting civilians during raids.

They also collected evidence of alleged abuses by the Palestinian Authority.

Al Haq, an independent human rights group, also said its office was raided.

Shawan Jabarin, the director of Al Haq, said he found out about the raid when he arrived at his office on Thursday morning.

“They searched our files. They broke some closed doors inside,” he told AFP.

“They cut off the cameras inside the office and they put a warning, a military order, outside of the door. We found it on the floor, that this organisation is closed, it's an illegal organisation.”

Mr Jabarin said his organisation had not broken any laws.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur for Palestine, expressed "full solidarity to the Palestinian NGOs who just had their offices raided by Israeli forces".

"This new illegal action bears testament to their outstanding work for justice and human rights," she said.

Another group, Defence for Children International, which has branches in more than 30 countries, said its West Bank office office raided.

“Israeli forces raided and sealed shut our Ramallah area office early this morning, leaving a notice taped to the door ordering the office closed,” the organisation said.

He said the note called the organisation an illegal group.

Defence for Children International was formed to “defend children’s rights by offering free legal aid, documenting violations of international law, and advocating for greater protections", its website said.

On Wednesday, the office of Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said the groups “operate under the guise of performing humanitarian activities to further the goals of the PFLP terrorist organisation, to strengthen the organisation and to recruit operatives”.

Updated: August 18, 2022, 4:01 PM