Raid comes two weeks after a researcher in one of the NGOs was indicted for organizing and participating in nonviolent demonstrations.
The offices of Addammeer – the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees and the Palestinian NGO Network were all raided by IDF last night. The offices, located in the heart of Ramallah, where Israeli forces are officially not allowed to enter, were searched, and at least in the case of Addameer equipment was confiscated, including four computer hard drives and filming equipment. Security tapes and a video made by neighbors show four IDF jeeps pulling in under their building and soldiers entering the building at around 3 a.m, and taking boxes full of equipment to the jeeps.
Just two weeks ago, a researcher for Addameer, Ayman Nasser, was indicted for alleged membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, after having been detained and tortured for more than a month. The case against Nasser is based in part on his participation in a nonviolent rally in Ramallah on the Palestinian Prisoner’s Day (17.4), a national event organized by all factions of Palestinian politics which the military prosecution claims to be a PFLP event.
The IDF Spokesperson Unit commented on the raids today, stating that “overnight searches were made in offices serving the terrorist organization PFLP in Ramallah.” The IDF did not comment on the question on its invasion into Area A.
“We have heard such claims made by Israel before and we see it as a way of delegitimizing civil society organizations,” says Gavan Kelly, advocacy coordinator for Addameer. “Of course we reject these claims time after time, and it’s enough to see that the NGO Network – representing more than one hundred Palestinian NGOs – was also raided. It’s simply absurd.”
This is not the first time Palestinian NGO offices in Ramallah have been raided, with a similar event taking place last May. In the case of Addameer, their offices were last been raided in 2002, yet they have since suffered from other sanctions by authorities such as a travel ban placed by Israel on their chairperson, 71-year-old Abdullatif Ghaith. “We see the raid as a continuation of Ayman’s arrest and the travel ban on our chairperson, but insist we will work doubly hard to support the prisoners,” says Kelly. A series of Palestinian and Israeli NGOs have also denounced the military’s attack on civil society.