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Terrorist NGOs have taken advantage of Ireland’s generosity

On Nov 17, Juana Rashmawi, a Union of Health Committees (UHC) worker, was convicted of transferring funds to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. She admitted that she had helped defraud donors, even after learning that the organization’s director had financed terrorist attacks.

This latest conviction was one in a long line of activities taken by Israel’s intelligence community after the murder in 2019 of a 17-year old high school pupil. Subsequently, several Irish-funded humanitarian organizations operating in the Palestinian Authority were designated as terror groups, spawning protests from within the Irish NGO industry.

Terror, by any other name …

The  PFLP is a terrorist organization. It pioneered armed aircraft-hijackings in the 1970s (including 5 aircraft to Jordan, where it sparked off a deadly civil war); it perpetrated the attack on Lod Airport in Israel in 1972, killing and maiming dozens; the massacre of the Fogel family (parents and their 11 year old, 4 year old and 3 months old baby) as they slept in their home in 2011; the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in 2014, killing 5 and injuring 12; and indiscriminate rocket fire on civilian communities around the Gaza Strip.

The organization has established humanitarian ‘cover’ to camouflage terrorist activities; even a printing house for fake receipts to defraud donors. Thus, for example, out of over 245,000 Euros earmarked by European donors for vaccinations, only 700 Euros were actually spent purchasing vaccines. Elsewhere, funds received from IMAP-UK to purchase a ventilator were sent directly to PFLP coffers – photos of an older machine sent back as proof of purchase. Instead, the organization diverted funds to programs such as dispensations for currently incarcerated terrorists and families of suicide bombers.

If you’re not part of the solution …

Israel fully supports assistance given to the Palestinians; donor countries have every right to bestow money as they see fit. However, they must be warned that their monies may not be used for the purposes for which they have designated them.

Furthermore, when a terror organization funds additional purposes other than terror, it continues being a terror organization, and providing it with funds is tantamount to funding that terrorist organization. This is also echoed in UNSC resolution 2462 (2019), which states that,

“terrorist organizations exploit some NGOs … (and) create sham charities or engage in fraudulent fundraising for these purposes… The first priority of countries must be to investigate and halt such terrorist financing or support … (and to) establish serious criminal offenses to prosecute and to penalize Human Rights NGOs… 

By supporting terror such organizations are abusing their self-proclaimed title and undermining genuine civil society organizations.

 “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” (Abraham Lincoln)

Accusing someone of murder is never taken lightly, and accusing an entire organization of complicity must be well based in the facts. But, terror is rarely an individual initiative – it is, more often, a planned and complex undertaking.

Israel’s investigation of the six branded organizations began in 2019 after the murder of high-school student Rene Shenrav and the subsequent arrest of the cell leader – a member of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. Following the money trail to Iran, donors were warned to cease funding the organization in May and to investigate the uses of their donations.

The materials were presented to the Minster for Justice on October 10th  with the approval of Israel’s attorney general – all well within UN Security Council and FATF (Financial Action Task Force) regulations. Since then, Israel has held meetings with European representatives, some of whom received classified intelligence materials, leading to investigations by the EU’s anti-corruption unit (OLAF) and others.

… A part of the solution

Ireland, through Irish Aid, provides millions of Euros directly and indirectly to politicized NGOs. Unfortunately, some of them have an anti-semitic mindset, demonizing Israeli Jews and calling for the outright abolition of Israel rather than peace or compromise. Reporting on these funds is limited to grants over 100,000 Euros, and most are diverted through third parties. Auditing is impossible when there is collusion between funder and recipient.

No country is immune to terror attacks. Whether aimed at journalists, cartoonists, underground or plane passengers, or standers-by on the Thames, terror does not need an excuse. It is a tool used by criminal organizations, often laundering money for other criminal organizations, certainly not to generate social justice but rather to terrorize people, as the Hamas organization in Gaza clearly demonstrates.

We want Ireland to remain relevant to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), but it must demonstrate absolute impartiality. More than most countries, Ireland knows the pain of terrorism: it is never productive, merely destructive.

This op-ed was authored by Lironne Bar Sadeh, the Ambassador of Israel to Ireland.

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