Secret Israeli dossier contained no proof to declare Palestinian NGOs ‘terrorists’ – reports
The document, which bears the logo of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service, is the result of its inquiry into six West Bank civil society groups accused of securing foreign funding for a Palestinian militant group.
Despite the severity of the charges, however, Israel has yet to publicly release any evidence backing up its decision to brand the NGOs as terror organizations. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz prompted international backlash last month after he officially placed a terror designation on the six groups on the basis of the Shin Bet investigation.
Accessing the dossier, The Intercept and Israeli outlets +972 and Local Call found that the information used was based chiefly on interrogations of two accountants from another Palestinian NGO, the Health Work Committees, which was also labelled a terrorist organization last year.Also on rt.com Israeli ministers in war of words over ‘problematic’ move to brand Palestinian NGOs as terror organizations – reports
The accountants’ lawyers told the outlets that Israeli authorities had “distorted” their testimonies, which were allegedly gathered under threats to family members and harsh interrogation methods that might be considered “torture.”
Shin Bet reportedly used a single statement from one accountant, about forging fake receipts for Health Work Committees, to accuse the other organizations of being involved in a similar scheme to fund the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) militant group. The men apparently described a number of educational and humanitarian initiatives which could be affiliated with the organization as “PFLP activities,” but they did not describe any financing of violent activities.
The outlets said that none of the testimonies cited in the 74-page dossier were backed up by any documents or receipts. The dossier was apparently delivered in May to a number of EU countries that have funded the organizations, prompting independent audits and public criticism from Dutch and Belgian ministers, who stated that the allegations did not contain “even a single concrete piece of evidence.”
“Since the Europeans didn’t buy the allegations, [Israel] used unconventional warfare: declaring the organizations terrorist groups,” Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer representing Al-Haq, one of the accused Palestinian NGOs, told The Intercept. He added that the charges were a “political [attack] under the guise of security.”Also on rt.com Here's what's wrong with Israel branding human-rights groups 'terrorists'
Meanwhile, senior officials from two unspecified European countries told the outlet that since Gantz’s announcement, Israel has ignored all requests for more information. While the Israeli Ministry of Defense did not comment, two US sources told the outlets that an Israeli delegation had presented similar dossiers on Capitol Hill.
The six NGOs accused by Israel are Al-Haq, Addameer, Bisan Center, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Defense For Children International-Palestine and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.
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