International

Israel's government has declared six Palestinian civil society groups supported by the international community as terrorist organizations, prompting dismay among human rights campaigners.

a statue of a flag: Israeli youths wave their national flag as they take part in the © JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images/FILE Israeli youths wave their national flag as they take part in the "flag march" through Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's old city during celebrations for Jerusalem Day on May 17, 2015 which marks the anniversary of the "reunification" of the holy city after Israel captured the Arab eastern sector from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War. AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Among the groups are Al Haq, one of the longest-established human rights organizations in the West Bank, and Defense of Children International-Palestine (DCI-P), which documents violations of child rights.

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A statement from Israel's Defense Ministry said all six "constitute a network of organizations active undercover on the international front on behalf of the 'Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP],' to support its activity and further its goals."

The statement accused the groups of masquerading as civil society organizations when in fact, it said, they were controlled by the banned PFLP and employed many PFLP activists.

It said the groups amounted to fundraising entities for the PFLP, in particular through the receipt of donations from European countries and international organizations.

The General Director of Al Haq, Shawan Jabarin, told CNN the accusations were "nonsense."

"This is a political move and not a security one. [Israel's] occupation has no limits to its injustice and insanity. But it will never stop us from defending our people and expose the crimes of the occupation," he said.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which enjoys limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank, called the announcement "unhinged."

"This fallacious and libelous slander is a strategic assault on Palestinian civil society and the Palestinian people's fundamental right to oppose Israel's illegal occupation and expose its continuing crimes," a statement from the PA Foreign Ministry read.


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