Israel raids Palestinian NGO offices
By Noah Browning
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers raided the offices of three civil society organizations on Tuesday in the heart of Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Entering before dawn, troops wrenched open the doors of the Women's Union, the Palestinian NGO Network and Addameer, an advocate for Palestinians in Israeli jails, confiscating five computers from the latter group.
The sweeps were the first of their kind in a Palestinian city since the West Bank government won an initiative at the United Nations General Assembly on November 29 which recognized a de facto Palestinian state, stoking tensions with Israel.
"This comes in the context of the U.N.'s decision," Allam Jarrar of the Palestinian NGO Network told reporters on Tuesday morning, "boycott Israel" leaflets strewn on the floor of the raided office.
"This a message by the Israelis to the Palestinians, saying that when they take decisions or form patriotic organizations to seek their freedom, the occupation will use aggression to try and stop us," he said.
The Israeli military said the targeted offices were associated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a small leftist faction with an armed wing in Gaza but engaged in peaceful civil activism in the West Bank.
The West Bank has seen mounting clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protestors, leaving two Palestinians dead since the launch on November 14 of an eight-day Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Nighttime arrests of Palestinians Israel suspects of militant activity have awoken small towns throughout the West Bank in the last week, provoking exchanges of gunfire by troops and stones heaved at them by increasingly defiant locals. Continued...