Israel's domestic spy agency, Shin Bet, has ordered the directors of two Palestinian rights groups to stop their work and sever their connections with their organisations, Haaretz has reported.
"They told me that I need to know that the organisation that I work for is illegal, and that it is illegal for me to keep working there either in or out of the country, and that if I continue, they will act against me," said Khaled Quzmar, director of Defence for Children International â€“ Palestine.
Quzmar told Haaretz that he received a call from a man who identified himself as a Shin Bet investigator and called him in for interrogation. The agency told him that this was the last warning that it would give. Nevertheless, he insisted to Shin Bet officers that the allegations were untrue.
"I said that I know my organisation 100 per cent and that it's a lie, and that if they have evidence that they can take me to court," he explained to Haaretz. "They said that if I continue to work at the organisation, they will take me to court." There was a clear threat from Shin Bet, he added.
The director of Al-Haq rights group, Shawan Jabarin, also told Haaretz that he received a call from a man who called himself Fahed and said that he was from Shin Bet. He too was called for interrogation.
"I told him that I am a man of the law, and that if he wants to, he needs to send me an official letter via a lawyer or to come to my home," said Jabarin. "He told me that continuing to work at Al-Haq and opening its offices is terrorism, and that I am a member of the PFLP. I told him that I am not, and that he is a liar who represents the forces of the occupation.
"He told me that I will pay a high price and that I will be detained and investigated. I asked him if this was a threat, and he said 'Yes'."
The Shin Bet order came just days after Israeli occupation forces raided the offices of seven Palestinian rights groups which were declared by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz last October to be "terrorist entities".