Israel’s army raided the offices of a prominent Palestinian NGO early Thursday, its director said, in an operation Amnesty International said aimed to “crush peaceful activism.”
Israeli soldiers forced their way into the offices of prisoner support group Addameer in the West Bank city of Ramallah at around 2:00 a.m., the organization’s director Sahar Francis said.
No staff were in the office at that time, she said, but Israeli forces seized thousands of dollars worth of equipment, including five computers.
“They searched the whole office,” Francis said.
Addameer works to support Palestinian prisoners in both Israeli and Palestinian prisons.
Israeli right-wing activists accuse it of links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
The Israeli army did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the raid.
Israeli occupation forces raid Addameer's office todayhttps://t.co/RN1ur4Psgg
— Addameer –الضمير (@Addameer) September 19, 2019
Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East Director Saleh Higazi condemned the “chilling raid,” labeling it an Israeli attempt “to crush peaceful activism and silence NGOs.
“This was a sinister and calculated attack designed to curtail Addameer’s vital human rights work,” he said in a statement.
The NGO, which documents allegations of abuse in Israeli prisons, has been raided twice before, most recently in 2012.
Francis said that time they had smashed the door and also seized computers.
“We never got back the things they stole in 2012, despite making a request,” she said.
An Addameer employee has also been detained without charge since last year under Israel’s administrative detention laws, Amnesty said.
Higazi said the raid was part of an intensifying Israeli campaign against civil society organizations.
Human Rights Watch’s local director is currently fighting an Israeli expulsion order over allegations he called for a boycott of Israel.
The country in 2017 passed a law banning entry to foreigners supporting a boycott.
Israel has controlled the West Bank since 1967, when it captured the area from Jordan in the Six Day War.
The office is in a part of the West Bank nominally under full Palestinian control, but the Israeli army regularly carries out raids in such areas.