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Israeli soldiers raid, shut down offices of Palestinian civil society groups

Aug. 18 (UPI) -- In early Thursday morning raids, Israeli soldiers shut down the offices of several Palestinian civil society advocacy groups that the Israeli government has labeled as terrorists -- an allegation the groups deny. Israeli troops raided and shut down the West Bank offices offices overnight, according to one of the groups raided.

According to a statement from Al-Haq, one of the raided groups, "Israeli occupation forces raided Al-Haq's office in Ramallah, confiscated items and shut down the main entrance with an iron plate leaving behind a military order declaring the organization unlawful."

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Al-Haq is a prominent NGO that monitors compliance with human rights in the Israeli occupied territories.

The Al-Haq statement said six Palestinian civil society organizations were raided by Israel. Israel declared the groups "terrorist organizations" on Oct. 19.

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The raided groups were Al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center for Research & Development, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (UAWC), and the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees (UPWC).

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement in 2021, calling the Israeli declaration "an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement."

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Al-Haq posted a detailed description of the Thursday morning raid on their office.

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"At 3:23 am, Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) forcibly blasted through the locked security door of Al-Haq's offices, bursting the door from its hinges and raiding the premises, setting off the alarms," Al Haq said in a statement posted to its website. "Below the premises of Al-Haq, the IOF bludgeoned and broke the front door of the Episcopal Church, leaving long shards of exposed broken glass, sponge-grenades, and several teargas canisters, rubber coated and live bullets around the property."

Al Haq said the groups Israel raided are civil society organizations "who advocate for human rights and international rule of law."

According to Israeli National News, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday ratified the "designation made in October 2021 of six Palestinian Authority Organizations as terrorist organizations."

Israel alleges that all of the organizations in question operate under cover and in agency with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Israel maintains the groups operate under the guise of performing humanitarian activities.

Al-Haq is calling on the international community to "immediately intervene to protect the six designated organizations, whose finances and assets risk being confiscated, and their staff members, directly targeted, arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned."

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