The Chief of the Israeli army's Central Command signed an order on Sunday declaring six Palestinian NGOs to be "terrorist groups", Haaretz has reported. The same six organisations were designated as "terrorists" by Defence Minister Benny Gantz on 22 October.
General Yehuda Fuks said that the organisations are now illegal in the occupied West Bank. He signed the order after being shown "extensive, varied and reliable information" that these organisations are arms of the "terror organisation the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP]."
The six are Al Haq; Addameer, which represents Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli military courts; Defence for Children-International, a group that advocates for Palestinian children; the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees; the Bisan Research and Advocacy Centre; and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees.
Gantz's declaration did not have an immediate effect on the work of these organisations. However, Haaretz said that the military order will seriously hinder the groups' ability to operate because the army can act against them immediately, arrest their employees on suspicion of membership of a "terrorist group", raid their offices and confiscate equipment.
Gantz claimed last month that the organsations take orders from the PFLP, which is also designated as a "terrorist" entity by Israel due to its resistance against the occupation.
The designation of the six NGOs sparked a major backlash in Europe and the United States and was condemned by a senior UN official. "[This is] an attack on human rights defenders, on freedoms of association, opinion and expression and on the right to public participation," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. She pointed out that the organisations designated as terror groups "are some of the most reputable human rights and humanitarian groups in the occupied Palestinian territory and for decades have worked closely with the UN."
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