WINOGRAD REPORT: NGOS USE HUMAN RIGHTS IN PROPAGANDA WAR  

      January 31, 2008 

Summary:

  • “Claims regarding violations of international law were a central part of the political, image, and propaganda war that accompanies warfare in general, and the Lebanon war in particular…. We did not find it appropriate to deal with issues that are part of a political and propaganda war against the State."
  •   The debate about the facts, including the identity of Hezbollah members counted as civilians, cannot be resolved because of the inaccessibility of the areas in real time. NGO claims on this issue are not credible.
  • The evidence shows that the IDF did not target civilians, in contrast to Hezbollah and to the false allegations by NGOs, and terms like “war crimes” are without basis.
  • Amnesty International’s attack on the Commission is an attempt to deflect attention form the evidence that this NGO participated in the propaganda war with false claims and double standards.
 

      The Winograd Commission was appointed by the Israeli government to investigate and draw lessons from the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Its members included Professor Ruth Gavison, a widely respected expert on international law and human rights. In the final report, issued on January 30, 2008, Chapter 14 (pp.480-500) focuses on the issues related to international law during the war, concluding that the IDF did not commit violations or “war crimes”, as alleged repeatedly by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other NGOs. “International law distinguishes between citizens killed accidentally who were in the area of a legitimate military target, and between citizens that were wounded as the result of deliberate attacks on civilians.” (page 484) The evidence shows that the IDF did not target civilians, in contrast to Hezbollah and to the false allegations by NGOs, and terms like “war crimes” are without basis. This report also includes a detailed appendix on the legality of the use of cluster munitions in the war, finding no breach of international law, while recommending a review concerning terms for use of these weapons in future conflicts.

      

    The Commission concluded that “Claims regarding violations of international law were a central part of the political, image, and propaganda war that accompanies warfare in general, and the Lebanon war in particular…. We did not find it appropriate to deal with issues that are part of a political and propaganda war against the State." (p. 485)  This conclusion is consistent with NGO Monitor’s submission to the Commission (Nov. 22, 2007): “The very speed and willingness with which NGOs were willing to convert unverified eyewitness claims and research with dubious credibility into accusations of human rights violations, reveals their core politicization.”  On the question (page 484) of the number of Lebanese civilian casualties, the report concludes that the intense debate about the facts, including the identity of Hezbollah members counted as civilians, cannot be resolved because of the inaccessibility of the areas in real time.

 

      In its discussion of the propaganda war and allegations regarding international law, the report did not name the NGOs involved. But, as NGO Monitor has documented, the most active campaigns using allegations of Israeli “war crimes”, “disproportionate use of force”, and “collective punishment” during and after the war were conducted by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

In attempting to deflect criticism of its role in the propaganda war, Amnesty International issued a press release (Jan. 31, 2008), attacking the Commission, asserting that its reports “disregards Israeli war crimes”, and repeating many of the allegations made during and after the war.  At the end of this diatribe, Malcolm Smart, an official of Amnesty International, included a brief to appeal for the release of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, and called on the Hezbollah terror group to “Renounce its unlawful policy of reprisal rocket attacks against the civilian population of Israel”.  
 

Additional Resources on NGO claims, International Law and the 2006 Lebanon War: 

Abraham Bell, How Should Israel Respond to War Crimes Accusations from the War in Lebanon? Jerusalem Issue Brief (Vol. 6 No. 13), November 9, 2006 

 

'David Frum on the Winograd Report, Hezbollah and Media Bias: Misinformation warfare', National Post (Canada), Feb. 2, 2008.

Israeli Attorney General rebuts NGO charges of 'war crimes' in 2006 Lebanon War, December 25, 2007  

IDF investigation concludes that use of cluster munitions in 2006 Lebanon war did not violate international law, December 25, 2007 

Author of US Air Force Study of 2nd Lebanon War dismisses criticism of Israel 'war crimes' as baseless", Steven Erlanger, The New York Times, October 14, 2007