See Archive of Lebanon Reports

Contents:

Following NGO Monitor's July 18 report, "NGOs quick to exploit Lebanon Crisis to attack Israel," a number of NGOs have issued further statements, many of which focus disproportionately on condemnations of Israel.

Common themes among the NGO statements include:

  1. Accusations of "disproportionate force" by Israel, with no explanation of what would comprise a proportionate response to Hezbollah terror attacks.

  2. Criticism of Israel's targeting of bridges, major roads and the Beirut Airport as "collective punishment," despite the clear military rationale of sealing off air and sea ports, roads and other such targets to prevent the re-supply of arms from Syria and Iran.

  3. No mention that Hezbollah's concrete reinforced military headquarters are located under buildings in southern Beirut, and that the positioning of military/guerrilla installations in residential areas is considered a war crime, as defined by Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Convention, article 51(7), relating to human shields. Hezbollah also stores and launches missiles from civilian villages (link has expired)  in southern Lebanon, but no NGO explores the human rights implications of Hezbollah's use of human shields.

  4. Few NGOs call for the release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers.

The following is an alphabetical list of the major NGO statements since the outbreak of hostilities (including material published in NGO Monitor's earlier report). Not all of these publications are completely one-sided. However, the quotes below give an indication of how NGOs are characterizing the conflict.

Amnesty International

  • July 13 press release, "Israel / Lebanon: End immediately attacks against civilians".

    • Both Israel and Hezbollah's actions described as "war crimes."

    • Israel must "respect the principle of proportionality when targeting any military objectives or civilian objectives", but no standard provided for determining proportionality in the wake of Hezbollah's attacks.

    • "Israel must put an immediate end to attacks against civilians", falsely asserting that Israel deliberately targets civilians, in a manner similar to Hezbollah.

    • IDF strikes on infrastructure targets constitute "collective punishment."

    • Also says "Hezbollah must stop launching attacks against Israeli civilians."

  • July 17 press release, "GAERC: Commit to review EU [association] agreement with Israel in light of Human Rights"

    • "This review is necessary not just because Israel is systematically and deliberately breaching international law by targeting civilians..."

    • Also calls on the Lebanese government and Hezbollah to "end attacks against civilians."

  • July 18 press release, " UN: Security Council must adopt urgent measures to protect civilians in Israel-Lebanon conflict"

    • Demands that UN Security Council suspend "all military supplies to Israel and Hezbollah until each party institutes the appropriate measures to ensure that civilians and civilian objects are not attacked." Promotes moral equivalence between a democratic-country acting in self-defense and a terrorist organization.

B'Tselem

  • 23 July press release, "Lebanon and Northern Israel"

    • "B'Tselem's mandate is limited to human rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The organization is therefore not documenting human rights violations in this conflict."

    • "However....Over the past week, Israel has killed hundreds of Lebanese civilians in its attacks against targets in Lebanon . There is a concern that at least some of them were disproportionate attacks, which constitute war crimes"

    • Acknowledges that "Hezbollah has been launching numerous deliberate attacks against Israeli civilians in the north of the country, which have killed and injured many civilians."

Christian Aid

  • July 13 News report, "Middle East in crisis"

    • Legitimizes Hezbollah's attack by stating that it was "an attempt to negotiate the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails."

    • No mention that the three Lebanese prisoners (Link has expired) held by Israel are terrorists, one of whom, Samir Kuntar, was convicted by an Israeli court in 1979 of two murders, including the beating to death of a four year old girl.

    • "Days of dread and despair long-lived by the Lebanese during the war seem to have returned." No mention of emotions of Israelis under rocket fire. As in other recent CA reports, the text was emotive so as to direct the reader to a clear political agenda.

    • One sentence about attacks on Israel: Hezbollah "fired rockets from Lebanon today, killing one Israeli civilian and injuring 29 others."

  • July 18 press statement, "Middle East in crisis "

    • "The stability of the entire region is under threat as Israel responds to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers by the militant group Hezbollah with aerial attacks on Lebanon. Hezbollah has retaliated with rocket attacks on Israeli towns." Israel is responsible for destabilizing the Middle East and Hezbollah's actions are portrayed as "retaliation" rather than unprovoked aggression.

    • One of CA's partner NGOs, Ittijah, said that "from a peaceful and secure country, Lebanon has become a shattered country", but did not illicit any such sympathy for the citizens of northern Israeli towns who have been under regular rocket fire since July 12.

    • Statement recognizes that "civilians in northern Israel are also spending much of the day in air-raid shelters to avoid Hezbollah rockets."

  • July 20 emergency appeal

    • "'We hope that we can help keep a lid on this crisis. But of course, the longer this military campaign continues the worse the situation will get." No mention of Hezbollah, only Israel's "constant attack and ... the beginnings of a potential humanitarian crisis."

  • July 21 press release,

    • CA joins with Save the Children, Oxfam, Islamic Relief, CAFOD, World Vision and CARE International UK to "urgently call for an immediate ceasefire by all sides." This opens the door to further attacks by Hezbollah. 

Euromed Non-Governmental Platform (an NGO network working with the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership)

  • Declaration about the situation in Lebanon and Gaza, July 13

    • "Detainees and captured persons should be liberated, and we condemn and reject all acts of violence against civil populations."

    • "The Euro-Mediterranean Non-Governmental Platform strongly condemns the Israeli aggressions which are a striking violation of International Law."

    • "Nothing could justify the collective punishment inflicted to the Palestinian people or the destruction of the Beirut airport’s tracks or bridges."

    • EU "should intervene quickly and firmly in order to stop the Israeli government’s military operations which are threatening the entire region with its dangerous escalation.

Human Rights Watch (8 statements between July 13 and 27)

Correction: The original version of this report stated that HRW's July 18 press statement was not sent out to its mailing list. This was a mistake. HRW have confirmed that it was indeed mailed to its subscribers.

  • July 13 press release, "Lebanon/Israel: Do Not Attack Civilians"

    • "Israeli military officials and Hezbollah leaders traded threats to attack areas populated by civilians," erasing the facts and context.

  • July 17 report, "Questions and Answers on Hostilities Between Israel and Hezbollah"

    • See detailed analysis of selective and distorted application of International Law in this HRW publication, by Dr. Avi Bell.

    • Charges that IDF actions "open the door to deliberately attacking civilians and civilian objects themselves - in short to terrorism," and that Israel's "destruction seems aimed more at...preventing [the civilian population] from fleeing the fighting and seeking safety,"

    • Also states that the IDF's arguments for bombing Beirut airport "are at best debatable", which follows a noticeable trend in which HRW makes assertions that require a level of military expertise that it does not possess and is not part of its mandate.

    • States in a number of places that it "sets out these rules before it has been able to conduct extensive on-the-ground investigation," demonstrating the primacy of its political agenda over accurate analysis.

    • Discusses the use of human shields but does not state that Hezbollah has contravened this precept of international law by placing its headquarters in a residential area of southern Beirut.

  • July 17 press release, "Israel: Investigate Attack on Civilians in Lebanon"

    • Calls on Israel to investigate the mistaken targeting of a civilian convoy by the IDF without including the context of the response to missile attacks, and despite the IDF's expression of regret for the casualties.

  • July 18 statement, "Lebanon: Hezbollah Rocket Attacks on Haifa Designed to Kill Civilians"

    • Hezbollah rocket attacks are "at best indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, at worst the deliberate targeting of civilians." "Attacking civilian areas indiscriminately is a serious violation of international humanitarian law and can constitute a war crime...Hezbollah's use of warheads that have limited military use and cause grievous suffering to the victims only makes the crime worse."

    • This one statement specifically addressing war crimes by a terror group but is ignored in the numerous other HRW statements that condemn Israel for "disproportional force," "war crimes" and "violations of international law" revealing the NGO's core bias.

  • July 20 statement, "Lebanon/Israel: Israel Must Provide Safe Passage to Relief Convoys"

    • "If attacks are hitting relief and medical convoys, the implications for civilian protection are serious. Such attacks would indicate that Israel is failing to take appropriate precautions to avoid targeting civilian objects." Another statement without context.

  • July 21 press release, "Lebanon/Israel: Israel must allow civilians safe passage"

    • "Israel should warn people of attacks, but those warnings can't be used to justify harming civilians who remain," said Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch

    • Cites IDF statement that describes Hezbollah's use of civilians as human shields in Southern Lebanon, but does not explore the implications.

  • July 24 - HRW issued a statement and email headlined Israeli Cluster Munitions Hit Civilians in Lebanon (Cluster Munitions are not prohibited by international law, and have only been banned by Belgium. Norway has committed to a moratorium on their use.)

  • Letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on the Crisis in Lebanon, July 22

    • "We are communicating our concerns to the governments of Syria and Iran...to urge them to use their influence to persuade Hezbollah to conduct itself in a matter [sic] that complies with international humanitarian law."

    • "We urge you to request that Israel immediately re-examine its military practices to ensure that they strictly comply with the requirements of international humanitarian law."

    • 94 words criticize Hezbollah. 1,413 words explicitly condemning Israeli actions.

  • Question and Answer Update, July 26.  Four questions added

    • "There is evidence that Israel has used cluster munitions in populated areas in Lebanon and that Hezbollah has launched rockets toward Haifa that contained thousands of metal ball bearings."

    • "…deliberately impeding relief supplies is prohibited, and doing so as part of an effort to starve civilians is a war crime ."

International Commission of Jurists

  • Press Release July 21, "Lebanon and Gaza Strip: UN to take immediate action to protect civilians"

    • ICJ called on the UN "to take immediate action to protect the civilian population in Lebanon, as well as in the Gaza Strip" but did not call for similar protection for Israeli civilians.

    • ICJ is "appalled by the impact of the ruthless military operations."

    • "Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself against hostage-taking and the launching of rockets by the Hezbollah over Israeli territory", but qualified this by claiming that Israel's response constitutes "collective punishment."

    • "[T]he bombing of undefended towns, villages and dwellings that are not military objectives, ... constitute war crimes" distorting current events and international law for ICJ's political agenda.

International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH)
France-based NGO with a budget of over €3m in 2004.

  • July 17 press release, "Ensure security for civilians!"

    • Acknowledges that it was the Hezbollah attack which initiated the crisis and "severely condemns the rocket firing by Hezbollah against Israeli civilian population."

    • "The FIDH considers that the attacks carried out by the Israeli forces ... are disproportionate and constitute a collective punishment " FIDH does not define a "proportional" response.

    • "The FIDH calls upon the Israeli government to urgently put an end to the military operations carried out in Lebanon." Despite condemning Hezbollah rocket fire, FIDH denies Israel's right to take effective military action to defend itself.

  • July 20 press release, "The Lack of Response and the Guilt of the International Community"

    • FIDH "determinedly denounces the unrelenting Israeli military attacks on Lebanon over the past eight days. In addition, the FIDH firmly condemns Hezbollah's firing of rockets against the Israeli civilian population and the use by its militias of arms prohibited under international humanitarian law. Both sides...are evidently targeting civilians."

    • The Israeli Army has perpetrated several types of attacks,...[which ] are to be considered, at the very least, as war crimes."

MIFTAH
A Palestinian lobbying group funded by the EU and the Ford Foundation

  • July 18 press release

  • July 17 editorial,

    • IDF operation described as "relentless brutality against innocent civilians in both Lebanon and Palestine."

    • "[T]he underlying cause of today's crisis in Lebanon is a premeditated Israeli plan to reshuffle the strategic regional equation in its favour."

  • July 23 letter to US Secretary of State, Condoleza Rice

    • "We urge you to hold Israel responsible for its brutality against the people of Lebanon, for its excessive use of force against civilians, for its continued violation of the most basic and fundamental principles of international and humanitarian law."

Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA)

International NGO funded by the Norwegian Government with a total budget of $117.158m in 2004,

  • July 17 statement

    • "Hezbollah launched rockets into Haifa...in retaliation for Israel's furious bombardment of southern Beirut." Distorts fact of Hezbollah aggression.

Oxfam

  • Press Release, July 19, "Oxfam International calls for urgent action on the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Middle East"

    • "[W]hile any state has the right to defend itself against armed attacks, Israel's destruction of civilian infrastructure including bridges, roads and the airport in Beirut is unacceptable", ignoring the military necessity of preventing Hezbollah from being re-supplied with arms.

    • Oxfam was a signatory to the July 21 joint NGO statement calling on UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to demand a cease-fire, see Christian Aid above.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

  • Press Release, July 25, "Stop Killing Civilians"

    • "The fact that the IDF’s actions exact a high toll both in lives and on civilian infrastructure evinces that Israel’s response is not proportional."

    • "The damage to infrastructure, homes and medical establishments is considered to be a grave violation of international law and the international humanitarian law."

    • "We also share the pain and fear in light of the tragic results of Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israel and its harmful effects on Israeli citizens…. We call for a cease-fire that will also put an end to the firing of Kassam Rockets and terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians."

UNICEF

  • July 19 statement and July 21 statement

    • "[A]s the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israel continue, reaching those in need is an enormous humanitarian challenge."

    • In both statements UNICEF refrained from making biased politicized comments about the conflict.

World Vision International

  • July 14 report

    • Israeli casualties mentioned, but the context of Hezbollah aggression omitted.

  • July 20 statement

    • "In the recent fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, more than 200 civilians have died and over 400 have been injured - approximately 30% of whom are children (Source: United Nations Children's Fund)."

    • "Both Israel and Lebanon are signatories to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that states they have an obligation under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflict." World Vision is the only NGO to acknowledge that the Lebanese government (which includes members of Hezbollah) has responsibilities in the conflict.