Palestinian children hold banners as they gather to release balloons during a protest against Israeli blockade in front of Beit Hanoun border crossing in Gaza City, Gaza on August 24, 2021. [Ali Jadallah - Anadolu Agency]

Finnish Christian charity cuts ties with Palestinian NGO accused by Israel of aiding militants

A Finnish Christian missionary group has cut ties with a Palestinian children’s rights NGO which Israel labelled a terrorist organisation, the charity’s executive director said, citing concerns about possible banking sanctions.

Defence for Children International-Palestine is one of six Palestinian groups Israel accused of funnelling donor aid to militants. It rejects the charge and says it has asked the missionary society Felm to reconsider cutting funds.

Israel says the six accused groups have close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which has carried out deadly attacks on Israelis and is on US and EU terrorism blacklists.

Felm executive director Rolf Steffansson said his organisation had seen no evidence its funding had been misused.

“We have actively monitored the use of the money and it has been used for work advancing children’s rights,” Steffansson, whose organisation provided DCIP with 30,000 euros annually from 2015 to 2021, told Reuters.

But the Israeli designation had made it impossible to maintain ties with the group, Steffansson added.

“It could have impacted the work we do in 30 countries through banking services for example,” he said.

DCIP, which relies on European aid to fund its advocacy and rights monitoring work in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, told Reuters no other donors had moved to cut off funding since the Israeli designation.

Read the article by Essi Lehto and Rami Ayyub in Sight Magazine.