IOF Raid UHWC Headquarter in al-Bireh
Date: 09 March 2021
Time: 12:00 GMT
Early Monday morning, 08 March 2021, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided and ransacked the headquarters of the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC) in al-Bireh and confiscated several computers. This incident was conducted simultaneously with the arrest of an UHWC employee from his house in Ramallah. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns IOF’s systematic practices against Palestinian civil society organizations (CSOs) operating in the oPt in a manner that threatens their existence. PCHR hereby emphasizes that these practices are part of campaigns led by Israeli officials against Palestinian civil society organizations and activists to undermine their work, either by distorting their credibility, arresting them, or closing the organizations that provide services to promote Palestinians’ identity and resilience.
According to PCHR’s investigation, at approximately 02:00 on Monday, 08 March 2021, IOF backed by military vehicles moved into al-Bireh and stationed in Sateh Marhaba neighborhood. IOF raided UHWC’s headquarter (2 floors in al-Sartawi building). Israeli soldiers ransacked the offices, removed the main doors with a special device used by IOF to open doors, and raided and searched the 6 offices in both floors. The search included opening the office lockers and drawers, where UHWC’s private files are saved, and threw them all over the ground. IOF also dismantled the PBX (Private Branch Exchange which is a private telephone and internet network used within a company or organization); as a result, it broke down. Before they withdrew at 05:00, IOF confiscated all the hard disks from the computers found in the offices.
Around the same time, IOF moved into Um al-Sharayet neighborhood, south of al-Bireh. They raided and searched Taysir Hasan Abu Sharbak (46)’s house, UHWC’s accountant. IOF arrested Abu Sharbak before their withdrawal from the area.
It should be noted that UHWC is a well-respected Palestinian non-governmental organization that was founded in 1985. UHWC is active in the field of health and community development in the Palestinian territory from a human rights perspective; it has branches in most Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
PCHR hereby strongly condemns IOF’s flagrant attacks against CSOs in the West Bank and reiterates its call upon the international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take serious action in order to stop the Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians and the Palestinian CSOs.