Spanish Citizen Pleads Guilty to Funneling Funds to Palestinian Militants, Israel Says
A Spanish resident of the West Bank pleaded guilty in Israeli military court on Wednesday to diverting European aid to a Palestinian faction that is on the European Union’s terrorism list, Israel’s Foreign Ministry and military said.
Israeli leaders held up Juana Ruiz Rishwami’s conviction as evidence supporting their designation in October of six Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations, also accusing them of diverting EU funds to militants.
Rishmawi, a fundraiser for the Health Work Committees (HWC), a Palestinian aid group, was convicted on charges that included activity in a proscribed organization and illicit money transfers.
Israel said Rishmawi “duped” European donors using financial records doctored to hide cash diversions to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a left-wing Palestinian faction with an armed wing that has carried out deadly attacks against Israelis.
Rishmawi’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment. The PFLP has denied the Israeli allegations, as do the six Palestinian civil society groups, whose designation as terrorists drew condemnation from the United Nations.
The Israeli military said Rishmawi will be sentenced on Nov. 17.
“The entire international community must work together with Israel in order to prevent terrorist organizations from using the veneer of civilian cover, and to prevent aid funds from reaching terrorist organizations,” Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.
Kayed al-Goul, a senior PFLP official in Gaza, accused Lapid of trying to use Rishmawi’s conviction to deflect international criticism.
“Israel has been embarrassed by the international response to its decision to label six Palestinian civil society groups as terror groups and Lapid’s statement and the so-called conviction is a helpless attempt to respond,” he said.