Samer Arbid, a Palestinian from Ramallah arrested for allegedly leading a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist cell responsible for the murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb had worked in a European-funded NGO linked to BDS, NGO Monitor reported on Wednesday.
44-year-old Arbid, who is one of PFLP’s officials in Ramallah, was previously arrested for involvement in terror activity during the Second Intifada under the direct command of the PFLP leadership, preparing explosive devices.
IDF and Border Police forces arrested Arbid on Sunday for allegedly setting up and detonating the improvised explosive device that killed Shnerb, wounding her father Eitan and her brother Dvir near the settlement of Dolev.
On Monday, Haaretz reported that the Justice Ministry opened an investigation into “potential wrongdoing” by officers of the Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) after Arbid was in critical condition in at Hadassah-University Medical Center following his interrogation. It was later reported that the Shin Bet officers received legal permission to conduct a ‘violent interrogation,’ but went “too far.”
Israeli media sources reported on Tuesday that the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) sent a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and numerous Knesset Members, demanding a criminal investigation be opened regarding Arbid’s Shin Bet interrogation. Joint List MKs have expressed their concerns over Shin Bet’s interrogation techniques, requesting the A-G look into torture claims following Arbid’s hospitalization.
According to the NGO Monitor, Arbid was listed as an accountant for Addameer (Arabic for conscience) Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, a Palestinian NGO that provides legal representation to Palestinians detained in Israel.
Among Addameer’s goals are “ending torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment inflicted upon Palestinian prisoners,” and “guaranteeing fair, impartial and public trials.” The organization was listed as a PFLP-‘affiliated institution’ on Fatah’s website in September 2015.
According to NGO Monitor, Addameer has received funding from numerous EU members and European government institutions, including the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Irish Aid, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Basque Government and the Municipality of Barcelona, among others.
Arbid has also worked for the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), which was also identified by Fatah as a PFLP affiliate. It was also identified by USAID as the Popular Front’s “agricultural arm,” and described by academic scholar Glenn E. Robinson as an organization established by “agronomics loosely affiliated with the PFLP.”
The UAWC also receives funding from European states and institutions, including Grassroots International, the UN OCHA, and the Dutch and Norwegian governments, according to NGO Monitor. Since 2016, the UAWC has received nearly NOK 39 million ($4.3M) from Norwegian People’s Aid and more than €8 million ($8.7M) from the Netherlands.
In 2017-2021, the Netherlands’ Representative Office in Ramallah is granting the organization $11.3 million to “implement the second phase of the Land and Water Resource Management program.”
“For years, we have been warning about the phenomenon of European governmental support for Palestinian civil-society organizations linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an internationally-designated terror-group,” said Professor Gerald Steinberg, founder and President of NGO Monitor. “This week’s announcement makes clear that the PFLP remains active and deadly.”
“Years of NGO Monitor research shows that Addameer, which advocates itself on behalf of PFLP terrorists, plays an integral role in the PFLP-NGO network,” Steinberg said. “Our reports on the group, which previously identified Arbid by name, leave no doubt that European governments and UN agencies should immediately cease funding Addameer and launch a thorough investigation of how taxpayers’ funds were disbursed to a group with a clear, terror-linked record.”
Since the early 2000s, both Addameer and UAWC have shown deep ties to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, having signed a petition to “isolate Apartheid Israel…forging effective solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.”
In 2014, Addameer and UAWC, alongside other Palestinian civil movements and NGOs, signed a joint call to action against the “apartheid wall,” stating “it is time for a ‘legal intifada,’ an intensified struggle and more boycotts, divestment and sanctions.” The organizations have endorsed the BDS movement, calling upon the public to “expand and deepen the global BDS movement for justice.”
The article was published on the JPost