Samer Arbid, the alleged leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist cell responsible for murdering 17-year-old Rina Shnerb near Dolev in August, worked for a European-funded NGO linked to BDS, NGO Monitor reported on Wednesday.
Arbid, 44, considered one of the PFLP’s top officials in Ramallah, was previously arrested for preparing PFLP explosive devices during the Second Intifada.
IDF and Border Police forces arrested him on Sunday for allegedly preparing and detonating the improvised explosive device that killed Shnerb and wounded her father Eitan and brother Dvir.
On Monday, Haaretz reported that the Justice Ministry opened an investigation into “potential wrongdoing” by officers of the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) after Arbid was in critical condition in at Hadassah-University Medical Center on Mount Scopus following his interrogation, which involved torture. It was subsequently reported that the agents were authorized to conduct a “violent interrogation” but went “too far.”
Media sources reported on Tuesday that the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and several Joint List MKs sent a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanding a criminal investigation be opened regarding Arbid’s interrogation.
According to the NGO Monitor, Arbid was listed as an accountant for Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian NGO that provides legal representation to Palestinians detained in Israel. The Ramallah-based organization’s mandate includes “ending torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted upon Palestinian prisoners” and “guaranteeing fair, impartial and public trials.” The organization was listed as a PFLP-affiliated institution on Fatah’s website in September 2015.
According to NGO Monitor, Addameer has received funding from numerous EU members and European government institutions, including the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Irish Aid, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Basque Government and the Municipality of Barcelona.
Arbid has also worked for the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which was also identified by Fatah as a PFLP affiliate. It was also identified by USAID as the Popular Front’s “agricultural arm,” and described by Middle East researcher Glenn E. Robinson as an organization established by “agronomics loosely affiliated with the PFLP.”
The UAWC also receives funding from European states and institutions, including Grassroots International, the UN OCHA, and the Dutch and Norwegian governments, according to NGO Monitor. Since 2016, the UAWC has received nearly NOK 39 million ($4.3M) from Norwegian People’s Aid and more than €8 million from the Netherlands.
In 2017-2021, the Netherlands’ Representative Office in Ramallah granted the organization $11.3 million to “implement the second phase of the Land and Water Resource Management program.”
“For years, we have been warning about the phenomenon of European governmental support for Palestinian civil-society organizations linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an internationally-designated terror-group,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, founder and president of NGO Monitor. “This week’s announcement makes clear that the PFLP remains active and deadly.”
“Years of NGO Monitor research shows that Addameer, which advocates itself on behalf of PFLP terrorists, plays an integral role in the PFLP-NGO network,” Steinberg said. “Our reports on the group, which previously identified Arbid by name, leave no doubt that European governments and UN agencies should immediately cease funding Addameer and launch a thorough investigation of how taxpayers’ funds were disbursed to a group with a clear, terror-linked record.”
Since the early 2000s, both Addameer and UAWC have shown deep ties to the BDS movement, having signed a petition to “isolate Apartheid Israel…forging effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.”
In 2014, Addameer and UAWC, alongside other Palestinian civil movements and NGOs, signed a joint call to action against the “apartheid wall,” stating “It is time for a ‘legal intifada,’ an intensified struggle and more boycotts, divestment and sanctions.” The organizations have endorsed the BDS movement, calling upon the public to “expand and deepen the global BDS movement for justice.”Alon Einhorn and Rachel Wolf contributed to this report.