The chief of the Israeli army’s Central Command, who oversees activity in the West Bank, signed an order Sunday declaring Palestinian NGOs terror groups, extending Defense Minister Benny Gantz's declaration to the West Bank and seriously hindering the groups' ability to operate.
Prior to this decision, the groups could still legally operate in the West Bank, where they were registered and active, regardless of Israel designating them terrorist organizations.
The order means that the army can act against these organizations immediately, arrest their employees on suspicion of membership in a terror group, raid their offices and confiscate equipment.
One of the groups, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, was already declared an unlawful group in the West Bank in 2020. The other five groups are Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center, Defense for Children International Palestine and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees.
The Defense Ministry said last month that the organizations took orders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and served as a front to secure finances for the organization, sparking major backlash in Europe and the United States.
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In a statement on Sunday, the Israel Defense Forces made a similar claim: “Following the declaration by the Defense Ministry last Wednesday, the chief of the Central Command, Gen. Yehuda Fuks, signed the decisions stating that the organizations are illegal [terror organizations] in the area of Judea and Samaria, after he was shown extensive, varied and reliable information indicating that these organizations are an arm of the terror organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
Gantz's declaration, which was seen as mainly an attempt to hamper the groups' fundraising, could dry up the groups funding in the long-term. However, it did not change their status or operations in the West Bank, where they are based. The NGOs have not yet decided whether to appeal the order in Israel's High Court of Justice.
Hagar Shezaf contributed to this report.