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Rights council condemns Israeli raids on NGOs

Dec. 13, 2012 4:47 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 15, 2012 3:22 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council on Wednesday condemned Israeli military raids on NGO offices in Ramallah.

Israeli soldiers seized seven computers, servers, cameras and 3,000 shekels ($793) from the Union of Palestinian Women's Committees in Qaddura refugee camp, the council said.

Israeli forces took four computers, a hard drive, a video camera and business cards from the prisoner rights organization Addameer. It is not known if soldiers also copied files from the group's servers during the hour-long raid.

The office was ransacked and soldiers ripped posters from the wall, PHROC said.

The council said the office of the Palestinian NGO Network office was also ransacked.

"PHROC recognizes this brutal raid as part of the continuous campaign to target and hinder the work of human rights organizations and their supporters, as well as to gather information on the employees of civil society organizations," the council said in a statement.

Urging the UN to pressure Israel to end attacks on civil institutions, the council said Palestinian civil society would not be deterred and would continue working "as long as human rights are being violated in occupied Palestine territory."

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which also condemned Tuesday's raids, says 22 civil and charity associations in the Gaza Strip were targeted in Israel's recent 8-day war on the enclave.

Human rights organizations in Israel protested the raids in Ramallah and demanded the return of all property to the civil society groups.

"A free civic space within which Palestinian individuals are able to organize is critical for the protection of Palestinian's basic rights.," a joint statement by Israeli organizations said.

"Actions such as those taken by the Israeli military threaten this free civic space and damage the protection Palestinian human rights."

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