JERUSALEM – Israeli soldiers early Sunday raided the offices of a leading Palestinian human rights organization, Al-Haq, in the besieged West Bank town of Ramallah, the head of the group said.
Randa Siniora, director of Al-Haq, said soldiers knocked on the library door and were let inside by a worker who was in duty. Siniora said the worker called her to say that Israeli troops had entered. When she called back, she said, she heard a sound like people going through files before the phone was hung up.
Israeli military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that soldiers had conducted searches in the building. The sources said many buildings in Ramallah were being searched if gunmen fired from them or there was suspicion that militants were hiding there. The sources said human rights groups are not a target, but would not say what the soldiers were seeking in the Al-Haq office.
On Friday, Israeli tanks moved into Ramallah and crashed into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound, taking over all the buildings except for Arafat's office structure, the first step in a declared Israeli campaign to stamp out Palestinian terrorism after a series of suicide bomb attacks.
Al-Haq, founded in 1979, has been monitoring the West Bank, reporting on incidents in which Israel is accused of abusing Palestinian human rights. Siniora said the Israeli raid could compromise the group's work. She said files and computer disks in the office are full of sensitive material. "We don't want all of our work over the years to be lost in a raid," she told The Associated Press.