In October 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defense designated six Palestinian NGOs as “terror organizations,” part of “a network of organizations” that operates “on behalf” of the EU-designated Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Israel accused the NGOs with diverting humanitarian funds from European donors to the PFLP and with recruiting members for the terror group.
Two of these NGOs are Al-Haq and Bisan Center for Research and Development.
Mitigating the Impact of the Designations
The explicitly political objective in registering these NGOs in Belgium was articulated in Viva Salud’s 2022 annual report (published summer of 2023). The Belgian NGO, a long-standing partner of Bisan Center for Research and Development, claimed: “Labeling social organizations in Palestine as terrorists is one of Israel’s repressive strategies. This is why Bisan, with the help of Viva Salud, opened an office in Brussels. This is a mitigation measure to strengthen Bisan’s action with political decision-makers.”
Bisan International Europe
Registered officially on December 19, 2022 by the French-speaking Business Court of Brussels, under the name “Bisan International Center for research and development (Bisan International Center),” the group is headed by Fiona Ben Chekroun, a former Program and Policy Officer (2016-2021) for Viva Salud. Ben Chekroun also serves as the Europe coordinator for the BDS National Committee (BNC).
Eleni Moustaklem serves as Administrator for Bisan International Center. According to her Linkedin account, Moustaklem is Board Secretary and a former Board Member (March 2019-July 2021) of the Palestinian entity.
Heide Vercruysse serves as Bisan International Europe’s delegate for Daily Management. According to Viva Salud, “Heide Vercruysse lived in Palestine for 6 months where she worked at Bisan Center for Research and Development, a Palestinian research organisation. Bisan is one of Viva Salud’s Palestinian partners and implements programmes in the West Bank on, among other things, accessible healthcare. Today, Heide still works for Bisan Center and represents their voice and that of the broader Palestinian civil society in Brussels.”
Registered officially on September 27, 2022 by the French-speaking Business Court of Brussels under the name “Al-Haq Human Rights Organisation Europe (Al-Haq Europe),” the group is headed by European anti-Israel NGO activists.
- Nadia El-Farkh – El Farkh serves as Al-Haq Europe’s president. She also serves also as administrator for European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) and secretary general(until 2021 at least) for Association Belgo-Palestinienne (ABP).
- Willem Staes – Staes serves as Al-Haq Europe’s vice president. He also serves from 2016 as 11.11.11’s Policy and Partnership Adviser Middle East. He previously served (2015-2019) as Pax Christi Vlaanderen’s Policy Officer Security and Disarmament and Broederljik Delen’s Policy Officer Middle East (ad interim – January 2015).
- Nathalie Janne D’Othée – Janne D’Othée serves as Al-Haq Europe’s treasurer. Since 2012, she has worked as CNCD-11.11.11’s Research and Advocacy Officer. Previously she was ABP’s Communications Officer (2010-2015).
Additionally, several Al-Haq Europe board members had roles at Al-Haq:
- Ghassan Abdulah – Described as an Al-Haq “board member” in an October 2023 article, Abdullah has served as “Deputy Chairman of the Al-Haq.” Several sources show that Abdullah was Al-Haq’s treasurer until 2014 at least.
- Asem Khalil – According to his CV, Khalil has served as a member of Al-Haq’s general assembly since 2015.
- Maha Abdallah – According to her Linkedin account, Abdallah worked as Al-Haq Senior Legal Researcher and Advocacy Officer in 2014-2020.
- Rula Shadeed – Shaheed who resigned from Al-Haq Europe as Delegate for Daily Management in June 2023, worked as Al-Haq Head of Monitoring and Documentation in 2020-2023 (according to her LinkedIn account).
Al-Haq is an organizational member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). FIDH Vice President Alexis Deswaef is also an Administrator of Al-Haq Europe. Deswaef considers PFLP-linked Al-Haq Director Shawan Jabarin as a “brother” and refers to him as the “lion of Ramallah.”
Examples of Pro-Violence Rhetoric by Al-Haq and Bisan after the Oct 7 Massacre
- On October 10, Al-Haq Head of the Training and Capacity Building Unit Ziad Hmaidan wrote on Facebook, “It is written in the Hadith: ‘You must wage jihad. The best jihad is preparing for war, and it is best to prepare for war in Ashkelon’.”
- On October 10, Al-Haq Legal Researcher and Advocacy Officer Ahmed Abofoul tweeted, “It is outrageous to call on Palestinian resistance (permitted by international law) to CEASE its attacks while asking the occupying power ONLY to respect IHL.”
- On October 12, Al-Haq Legal Researcher and Advocacy Officer Aseel Al-Bajeh tweeted, “We don’t need to speak of our right to resist, for it is not a right, but a way of being & survival for Palestinians. We don’t demand our right to narrate. Our ability to narrate was never out of our hands & resistance doesn’t need the pre- approval of static int’l law codes. Its not ‘our duty to expose the bloody barbarism of zionism, their actions as a fascist state & a ruthless army are more than sufficient to undertake this task. We remain attached to our land & in our humanity, as Pal Arabs no need to prove our humanity to those who have lost it.”
- On October 9, Hmaidan shared a picture on Facebook of a Palestinian terrorist Ibrahim Nabulsi aiming a gun, and wrote, “A message of intense love. The picture of one of the men of the ‘flood’ [referring to the name ‘the flood of Al-Aqsa’ given by Hamas to the murderous October 7 attacks], during a confrontation in one of the [israeli] bases that was stormed [by Palestinian terrorists]. This picture carries a thousand signs and meanings. Observe the picture that the sniper of the flood stuck on his rifle. Do you recognize who is in the picture? This is the intense love is for Ibrahim [Nabulsi].”
- On October 9, Hmaidan posted on Facebook, “To Palestine alone we give everything, until it is pleased. And for what the world wants – may it go to hell.”
- On October 11, 2023, Al-Haq Legal Researcher and Advocacy Officer Aseel Al-Bajeh tweeted, “‘The process of liberation is irresistible & irreversible & in order to avoid serious crises, an end must be put to colonialism & all practices of segregation & discrimination associated therewith’ UN resolution 1514, binding on all states!”
- On October 7, Al-Bajeh tweeted by quoting Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh, “Leave our land, get out of our faces.”
Bisan Center for Research and Development
- On October 10, Bisan Board Member Nadia Habash shared a statement on Facebook by the Order of Engineers & Architects – Beirut, writing, “Much respect for the Order of Lebanese Engineers and the president of the union Aref Yasin for this respected position which supports our legitimate fight, and for their announcement on a demonstration in support of ‘The Al-Aqsa flood…’” According to the statement Habash shared, “The resistance against the occupation by all means is a national, human and moral duty…the Al-Aqsa flood operation, which made the enemy lose its balance is a unique development in the resistance’s methods, in this historic confrontation the resistance has won and has become more powerful…May the resisting steadfast Palestinian people have a blessing of greatness and honor, and may the resistance fighter martyrs and incent martyrs have glory and eternal life. Palestine shall remain Arab and the occupation will be gone…”
- On October 10, Habash published a statement by the Professional Association Complex, which stated, “Today we look with pride on our brave resistance which is writing the most terrifying sights of strength and glory, and trampling the enemies of our nation and returning stolen rights. We congratulate this victory and attest before Allah that we are all soldiers under the command of the Palestinian resistance…Get ready, oh free man of the nation, and support your resistance in all levels, wherever you are, this is your day, a day of Allah…Long live Gaza, and long live Palestine, free and proud. May our beloved resistance go on and be unbreakable.”
- On October 11, Habash shared pictures from a demonstration “in loyalty to the blood of the [Palestinian] journalists and in anger over the criminals who are committing massacres against journalists in Gaza,” in which she participated. Habash wrote, “the engineers association [which Habash heads] participated in this demonstration in support of the brave resistance in the revolutionary Gaza [Strip] and to affirm the support in the Palestinian narrative and image and to protect journalists…”