In a pre-dawn raid last year, Israeli soldiers stormed the Ramallah office of the Bisan Center for Research and Development, confiscating files and other office material from the Palestinian NGO. After leaving behind a military order declaring the Bisan Center unlawful, the soldiers welded its office door shut. Israeli forces conducted simultaneous raids on six other Palestinian civil society organizations in Ramallah: Addameer, al-Haq, Defense for Children International-Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Health Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees.
The raids followed the widely condemned declaration in 2021 by Israel’s Defense Ministry that six of those Palestinian organizations were “terrorist” entities. The so-called terrorist designations “are part of a long history of harassment and smear campaigns against Palestinian civil society organizations,” the director of Addameer, Sahar Francis, told DAWN in an interview last year.
As the executive director of the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Ubai al-Aboudi has been working at the center of Palestinian civil society for years. Founded in 1989, the Bisan Center focuses on violations of socioeconomic and cultural rights of Palestinians, “but also on alternative ways and modes for achieving development under occupation,” he explains in an interview. The Bisan Center has also been leading a new initiative, called the Palestinian Popular Conference–14 Million, to bring together Palestinian activists and civil society from across Palestine, Israel and the Palestinian diaspora to push for one unified demand: democratizing the ossified and unaccountable Palestinian political system. [Continue reading…]