UNSC members condemn IDF raids on Palestinian NGO offices

A majority of the United Nations Security Council members condemned the IDF raid last week.

Members of the United Nations Security Council observe a moment of silence at the beginning of a meeting about Afghanistan at United Nations Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 10, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI)
Members of the United Nations Security Council observe a moment of silence at the beginning of a meeting about Afghanistan at United Nations Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 10, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/CARLO ALLEGRI)

A majority of United Nations Security Council members condemned the IDF raid last week on seven NGO offices, noting that Israel had not provided information to back up its claim that these were terrorist groups.

“Norway has clearly stated that the information Israel has provided does not sufficiently justify designating the organizations as ‘terror organizations,’” Norwegian Deputy Ambassador Trine Heimerback told the UNSC on Thursday.

“We will continue our support for Palestinian civil society,” she added, adding, “We are troubled by subsequent reports of threats against the employees of these organizations and their families. Such actions are unacceptable.”

France, the United Kingdom and Ireland issued similar statements at the 15-member UNSC’s monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other UNSC member states such as Albania, Mexico, China, Ghana and Gabon also spoke out. France and Ireland also signed onto a statement issued by nine European countries against the raid earlier this week.

US Deputy Ambassador Richard Mills took a softer tone at the UNSC, explaining that this country “values the role that independent NGOs play in monitoring human rights violations and abuses in the West Bank and Gaza, in Israel, and elsewhere.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, US, September 27, 2021 (credit: JOHN MINCHILLO/POOL)Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, at the UN headquarters in New York, US, September 27, 2021 (credit: JOHN MINCHILLO/POOL)

The US “firmly believes they must be able to continue this important work. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a strong civil society, are critically important to responsible, responsive and democratic governance,” Mills added.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman raised the matter with Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata when they met on Wednesday.

Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters in New York after the meeting that this issue “was a big test” for Western countries that support civil society.

US Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland “described for the UNSC how On 18 August, Israeli forces ordered the closure of the offices of seven organizations, including all six NGOs designated as terrorist organizations in [October] 2021, and searched their offices in Ramallah.”

“Equipment was confiscated, in some cases destroyed, and confidential files were seized. Israeli authorities also summoned the directors of three of these organizations for questioning,” Wennesland said.

The arguments made

Israel has argued that the NGOs are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which the US and the EU recognize as a terror organization. However, Israel’s allies have argued that when it comes to the six NGO designated as terrorist groups in 2021, Israeli has not given sufficient proof to back up its claim.

In Ramallah on Thursday, EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff made his second visit to the Al-Haq human rights organization in Ramallah since the raid.

The EU Ambassador to Israel along with representatives of 18 European countries met with the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Wednesday to express their concern.

At issue for the international community are six of the NGOs. These are: Al-Haq, Addameer, the Bisan Center, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.