The Israeli regime’s forces have stormed the headquarters of several Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations in the occupied West Bank, in yet another crackdown on rights groups in the Palestinian territories.
Palestine's official Wafa news agency said the raid took place in the early hours of Thursday and targeted seven human rights NGOs in the occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh.
“The heavily-armed soldiers stormed the offices of the organizations, muscled inside, tampered with the contents, seized office equipment and documentation, shut down the main entrances with iron plates, and leaving behind military orders declaring the organizations unlawful,” Wafa reported.
The Palestinian news agency said the organizations raided were Al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center for Research & Development, Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI-Palestine), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Union of Health Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women.
Local media reports said the Israeli soldiers and police officers "closed seven institutions and confiscated property" in the overnight raids, adding that at the Ramallah offices of human rights group Al-Haq, the front door had been welded shut and an Israeli notice left saying it would remain closed for "security reasons.”
The Thursday move led to heavy clashes between Palestinians and Israelis, with the regime’s force firing teargas canisters at protesters outside Al-Haq's office and Palestinians responding with rocks and Molotov cocktails over the overnight raids.
In a tweet, senior Palestinian Authority official Hussein al-Sheikh described the raids as "an attempt to silence the voice of truth and justice.”
In October last year, the Israeli regime issued a military order declaring the Ramallah-based Al-Haq, along with the other six rights groups, as “terrorist organizations.”
The occupying regime accused the groups of funneling donor aid to Palestinian resistance fighters and of having links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The groups have strongly denied the claims.
Last month, nine European Union states rejected the Israeli regime’s terrorist designation of the Palestinian civil society groups, saying they would continue their cooperation and strong support for the organizations as the regime had failed to prove the allegations.
The foreign ministries of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden said they had received no "substantial information" from Israel that would justify reviewing their policy.