Sheldon Kirshner
Sheldon Kirshner

Israel Should Provide Proof Of Accusation

Last month, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz designated six Palestinian civil and human rights groups in the West Bank as terrorist organizations with links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. This is an outfit whose armed wing has hijacked Israeli aircraft and carried out attacks against Israelis since the 1967 Six Day War.

The Israeli government has taken no further action against the Palestinian groups, all of which have condemned Israel’s decision as a calculated attempt to muzzle Palestinians, consolidate its occupation of the West Bank, and silence criticism of its policies toward the Palestinians.

Israel has declined to release the classified evidence linking the PFLP to these groups, citing security reasons. But Israeli officials told reporters that the secret evidence, consisting of documents, photographs and videos, was “ironclad” in terms of its veracity.

Israel’s refusal to provide definitive proof of its allegation has caused an international furore, placing Israel in an uncomfortable position.

The United States, which has branded the PFLP as a terrorist band, has not endorsed Israel’s rush to judgment. Instead, the U.S. State Department is seeking “clarifications” regarding Israel’s ¬†evidence.

At the same time, 288 U.S.-based social justice, civil rights and human rights organizations have called on President Joe Biden to condemn Israel’s move as “a clear attack on human rights.”

European Union countries, having also branded the PFLP as a terrorist organization, have demanded incontrovertible proof of Israel’s accusation.

On November 18, the EU’s chief foreign policy official, Josep Borrell said, “We are asking for answers from the Israeli government, but we have not received convincing answers. We need proof of these claims.”

Earlier this month, Dutch Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag said that Israel had offered “no concrete information” regarding two of the organizations Holland has funded indirectly.

In October, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney expressed concern about Israel’s terrorist designation, saying its allegations have “not been substantiated.”

The six Palestinian organizations targeted by the Israeli government operate openly in the West Bank and maintain ties with human rights bodies in Israel and abroad.

They are: Al-Huq, Addameer, Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Defence for Children International-Palestine, Bisan Research and Advocacy Center, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

Al-Haq, one of the oldest Palestinian civil rights entities, documents Israeli and Palestinian Authority human right abuses, from shootings of Palestinians by Israeli forces to unlawful torture of prisoners in PA jails. Al-Haq’s director, Shawan Jabarin, has been convicted by Israeli courts of being a PFLP member and has been placed under a travel ban by the Shin Bet internal intelligence agency.

Addameer represents Palestinian prisoners in Israeli military courts. Its former director, Khalida Jarrar, is said to belong to the PFLP.

The Union of Agricultural Work Committees assists Palestinian farmers in a variety of fields, from providing water to advising on land development. It is particularly active in Area C, comprising 60 percent of the West Bank, where virtually all of Israel’s settlements are located. Three years ago, two of its employees were indicted on charges of being involved in the murder of an Israeli teenager.

Defence for Children International-Palestine fights for the rights of Palestinian children and lobbies on behalf of Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons. According to the Israeli non-governmental group NGO Monitor, some of its employees were members of the PFLP, while still others spoke at PFLP events.

Bisan Research and Advocacy Center works with youth organizations and feminist institutions in rural areas to advance their socio-economic rights. Its director, Ubai al-Aboudi, was sentenced to a year in prison in 2020 for being a member of the PFLP.

The Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees provides psychological and legal support for women and training for females who want to participate in politics. Its director, Khitai Safin, was arrested by Israel last year after being charged with belonging to the PFLP.

The PFLP, founded by George Habash in the wake of the Six Day War, does not recognize Israel, opposes talks with the Israeli government, and supports a one-state rather than a two-state solution.

Since 1968, PFLP operatives have hijacked several Israeli planes, though its last hijacking took place years ago. The PFLP has also launched a torrent of attacks against Israeli civilians. In 1972, the Japanese Red Army, in conjunction with the PFLP, carried out a terrorist assault at Ben-Gurion Airport which claimed the lives of 28 passengers. In 2001, a PFLP operative killed Israel’s minister of tourism, Rehavam Zeevi, a former army general.

There is no doubt that the PFLP is Israel’s mortal enemy. Nor is there any doubt that many Palestinians support or sympathize with the PFLP. But it is debatable whether the six Palestinian organizations that have been designated as terrorist groups by Israel have explicit formal or informal links with the PFLP.

Israel can remove such doubts by releasing all the alleged incriminating information in its possession. Only then will Israel have an open-and-shut case against these organizations.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal, SheldonKirshner.com
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