“For decades, Israel has been fighting murderous Palestinian terror. But while soldiers risk their lives on the front lines, organizations within Israel are acting to weaken deterrence and aid terrorists. Introducing HaMoked-Center for the Defense of the Individual,” began a Channel 14 investigative report about the left-wing NGO, that helps terrorists and their families.
The first part of the two-part special aired on April 2. The second installment airs this week.
“When you look at their activities as a whole, the picture is shocking,” said Gilad Ach, CEO of “Ad Kan,” the right-wing NGO which did the heavy lifting behind the expose. Ad Kan sent its people, at personal risk, into Palestinian-controlled areas, using a cover story to gain access to convicted terrorists and their families.
“We wanted to show how HaMoked operates from their perspective,” Ach told JNS.
What emerges is that HaMoked is the first pit-stop for terrorists once in the Israeli system. First, they contact the Palestinian Authority, which sends them to its Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, which “automatically” sends them to HaMoked, said Ach, adding that HaMoked might as well be considered the Israeli branch of the Ministry of Detainees’ office.
Ahad Sabih, the brother of a terrorist, recounted to Ad Kan’s undercover interviewers: “We tried to contact someone, we didn’t know who, because things were very strange to us. Then they told us that there was something called HaMoked in Jerusalem.”
Sabih’s brother, Nahad, has been sentenced to five life terms as one of the planners of a May 2002 attack on Itamar, a Jewish community in Samaria, in which three yeshiva high school students were killed and two others wounded.
HaMoked states on its website that its main goal is to assist Palestinians “living under the Israeli occupation” amid “the severe and ongoing violations of their rights.” The group says it “pushes for policy changes to bring about systemic improvements in human rights.”
However, what HaMoked does in effect is aid terrorism, said Ach. “They send top Israeli lawyers, who are paid a lot of money, to court, which strengthens the families of terrorists, the terrorists themselves, and the next potential terrorist, who understands that if he carries out an attack, there will be this whole system to back him. It very nearly turns the murder of Jews into something legitimate. It’s lunacy and the State of Israel must act against it.”
Although the group claims its work is “funded entirely by individuals and institutions in Israel and around the world,” according to Ach, HaMoked is overwhelmingly supported by foreign state funds.
“Its money comes from the German government, and we all recall their history, particularly now on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. It also comes from the Norwegian government and the Dutch government,” said Ach.
NGO Monitor, an Israeli organization that tracks so-called “human rights groups,” found that HaMoked received close to 40 million shekels (~$11 million) from foreign governmental bodies between 2012-2022. Between 2017-2019, foreign government grants made up 79.8% of HaMoked’s total donations. (The New Israel Fund, a foreign entity in Israel, gave the group $346,377 between 2015-2020.)
Itai Reuveni, director of communications at NGO Monitor, told JNS that the actual amount is only part of the story. State funds come with an imprimatur, a stamp of legitimacy, that an identical amount from private sources doesn’t carry with it, he explained.
“With that money, they now have a government flag, or the E.U. flag, on their publications. It opens doors,” said Reuveni, adding that those governments will go to HaMoked on matters concerning Palestinian rights.
“If an average Israeli had to go to the High Court of Justice because something happened, how long would it take him? How much money would he have to spend? Families of terrorists, and sometimes the terrorists themselves, can petition the High Court, or some other administrative court, in Hebrew, sometimes in a matter of hours, with a huge PR campaign surrounding it,” he said.
Indeed, according to the Ad-Kan/Channel 14 expose, thanks to HaMoked, terrorists are better represented than the victims. “An ordinary person doesn’t have money for lawyers,” Ach told JNS. “He gets what the state offers from the Military Advocate General’s Office. It’s not a 100,000-to-200,000-shekel lawyer.”
Such was the case with Rafi Levengrund, whose daughter Kim was murdered in October 2018. Levengrund said victims receive an IDF-supplied attorney, “a kid who graduated law school, took an officer’s course, and has no clue about anything,” while “the other side receives experienced, shrewd, senior lawyers who know the system in and out.”
Kim was killed along with co-worker Ziv Hajbi by Ashraf Na’alwa, who was tracked down after two months by IDF forces and killed. Na’alwa’s brother and father were arrested and indicted for knowing about his plan to kill Jews and doing nothing to stop it. His father was accused of hiding the getaway car. Feiruz Sharan, Ashraf’s sister, told Ad Kan’s investigators that legal aid her family received from HaMoked helped them obtain visitation permits. HaMoked also tried to delay the partial destruction of the family home. (The IDF considers home demolitions an effective deterrent against terrorism).
HaMoked has operated for 35 years. Asked why Israel has allowed a largely foreign-funded organization to interfere with its efforts to combat terror and erode its deterrent posture, Ach said: “It’s something psychological. It’s like the battered-woman syndrome. You look at other countries, and this sort of thing doesn’t exist. They’d consider it a violation of their sovereignty.
“There are elements within the State of Israel who still feel that Israel is a protectorate. In the past, it was Russia during the [era of] kibbutzim and communism. Now it’s the United States or Western Europe. Part of our group’s call is to shake off this attitude, to take a stand and say Ad Kan—no more.”
To date, no-one has really addressed the issue, he continued.
“Three years ago, many frustrated, bereaved families asked us to take on this issue. Now’s the time. The person in charge of the Registrar of Associations [the group that supervises NGOs] is Justice Minister Yariv Levin.”
Ideally, said Ach, HaMoked should be shut down and “declared a terrorist collaborator.” At the least, Ach says he’d like to see HaMoked lose its standing in court. “There should be a law that an organization that receives more than 51% of its budget from Europe can’t appear in the Supreme Court as a representative of the Israeli public,” he said.
“At every one of the very worst attacks, there you’ll find HaMoked,” he said, noting the group helped the family of the terrorists who murdered the Fogel family, a particularly grisly attack, in which a mother, father and their three children, including a three-month-old, were stabbed to death in their home in March 2011.
“HaMoked is now helping those involved in the killing in Huwara,” he added. Two brothers were shot to death by a terrorist while sitting in traffic in the Arab town in February.
At least specifically when restricting where foreign money goes, NGO-Monitor’s Reuveni said that his group opposes legislation. “Every time that someone tried to legislate on this, it turned out badly for Israel. Also, money is fungible. It’s hard to know exactly where it’s going.”
Exposing the activities of NGOs like HaMoked and bringing it to the attention of European governments will be more effective in the end, he said.