‘Cynical use of human rights’: PFLP operative convicted of fundraising for terrorism through civil organisation

November 11, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Juana Rashmawi, a Palestinian Authority resident with Spanish citizenship, was convicted on Wednesday in a plea deal at the military court in Judea and Samaria after she admitted that she served as a fundraiser for an organization called the “Union of Health Work Committees” (UHWC).

Armed men among the supporters who participating in a rally in Gaza City, marking the 52nd anniversary of the founding of the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). Gaza, Dec 7, 2019

The UHWC operates on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization.

The organization has been serving as a civilian arm of the PFLP, like the Union of Agriculture Work Committees, the Bisan Center, Al-Haq, Defence for Children Palestine (DCIP), and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, six PFLP-linked organizations which have recently been declared terrorist organizations in Israel.

Rashmawi admitted that she dealt extensively with fundraising for the PFLP. Donors, including countries around the world and international organizations, were systematically misled to fund a terrorist organization. She further detailed that the six organizations designated as terror organizations deceived and misled countries and international organizations as they collected funds, which were then used to finance terror.

“The organization’s activities were a significant and important source of funding for the PFLP,” Israel’s Minister of Defence noted.

The indictment states that the terrorist organizations “purposefully conducted their operations under the guise of civilian activities that would serve as a cover for their training, fundraising and other terror activities.”

Responding to the conviction, Defence Minister, Benny Gantz stated that “the State of Israel and the defence establishment respect human rights, and respect the activities of human rights organizations that play an important role in any democratic society.” However, “the cynical use of human rights organizations as a cover, is a ‘double sin’ – it fuels terror, and also hurts organizations that do real, important work for civil society.”

Israel will “continue to respect human rights and the activities of human rights organizations. [At the same time] we will continue to operate against terrorism in all its forms, anywhere it takes place,” he declared.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid added that the admission is “further proof that a cynical and murderous terrorist organization has set up a network of lies and fraud that operates under the guise of humanitarian organizations as a conduit for the inflow of terrorist funds – deliberately misleading donor organizations and countries.”

He called on the “entire international community” to “work with Israel to prevent terrorist organizations from operating in civilian frameworks and to prevent aid funds from reaching terrorist organizations.”

Israel has been facing international criticism after it banned the six-PFLP organizations, with countries demanding proof of these organizations’ connections to terrorism.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US and United Nations Gilad Erdan stated that Rashmawi’s admission “proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the PFLP and these humanitarian organizations are inseparable. Let’s make no mistake, the PFLP is a terror organization regardless of the other activities it conducts.”

Several UN Agencies and the Association of International Development Agencies released a joint statement on Wednesday declaring that they “stand by civil society organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” in solidarity with the six PFLP-linked groups.

Erdan dismissed the statement as “hypocritical and full of lies.”

The six organizations “provide financial support to, and in some cases employ members of the PFLP, a designated terror organization in Israel, the US, and many other countries.”

“The PFLP is responsible for some of the most reprehensible terror attacks in history. Instead of focusing on the continued hatred and incitement stemming from the Palestinian leadership, Israel, a democracy, is attacked once again,” he noted.

He called on the UN, its agencies, and all Member States to “do everything in their power to prevent and combat the shameful trend of terrorist financing.”

He too pointed out that “Israel values the work of Palestinian civil society organizations and their importance to the Palestinian people. However, we cannot and will not allow the financing of terrorism under the pretence of humanitarian and civilian aid. Israel will always defend its citizens, no matter what the rest of the world may say.”

“I wonder what excuse the UN agencies will now find to continue supporting terror organizations disguised as humanitarian ones,” he quipped.

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