Spaniard Israel Claimed Was Tied to Six Blacklisted Palestinian NGOs Is Not, Military Court Says

After ministers say Spanish woman's plea deal proves designation of six Palestinian groups as terror organizations was justified, court reaffirms she had no ties to them

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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Juana Rashmawi in custody, last week.
Juana Rashmawi in custody, last week.Credit: Hagar Shezaf
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

A military court refuted on Tuesday a claim by the defense and foreign ministries that the government hoped to use as justification for its labeling of six Palestinian organizations as terror groups.

The Spanish woman convicted of fundraising for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whose case Israel planned to cite as evidence that its decision was valid, was unaware of and did not take part in the six organizations' activities, said the military court at the Ofer military base.

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The court was making a clarification at the request of Spanish citizen Juana Rashmawi's lawyers, after Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid issued a joint statement linking Rashmawi to the six groups by name.

Rashmawi, a fundraiser for the Health Work Committees, a Palestinian aid group not among the six designated organizations, was convicted on charges that included activity in a proscribed organization and illicit money transfers over fundraising for the PFLP. The PFLP is a left-wing Palestinian faction with an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis.

According to the indictment against her, Rashwami "suspected that the organization was acting on behalf of the Popular Front" but was unaware that the funds she raised had been diverted to the PFLP. Israel outlawed the Health Work Committees in 2020 on the grounds that it worked on behalf of the PFLP.

Requesting a clarification, Rashmawi’s lawyers, Avigdor Feldman and Omri Barabash, wrote to the court that “regrettably, the court and military prosecutors became accomplices, whether knowingly or by closing their eyes, to a trick" meant to use Rashmawi to confirm the government's claims. The attorneys added that the statement by Gantz and Lapid, which used her full name, placed their client at risk of being criminally prosecuted in Spain as an activist in a terror organization.

An announcement by the ministries of defense and foreign affairs, issued on the day Rashmawi was convicted, said she had confessed "to being a fundraiser for a terror organization, the Popular Front and that the Health Work Committees she worked for was one of the civilian arms of the Popular Front, along with organizations such as Addameer, Al-Haq, Bisan Center, Defense for Children International Palestine, the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees."

Military Judge Lt. Col. Eti Adar noted in her clarification that Rashmawi had been unaware of a section in her indictment that linked the Health Work Committees to the PFLP and referenced the six blacklisted organizations.

The prosecution and defense have agreed on a 13-month prison sentence, starting from her arrest in April. The court is set to decide on Wednesday whether it will approve her plea deal.

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