Report based on faulty data calls for sanctions, coincides with annual BDS campaign

Jerusalem – A report scheduled to be released by Amnesty International tomorrow, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, falsely and maliciously accuses Israel of “callous disregard for human life,” according to analysis by NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research organization. The report also repeats Amnesty’s calls for political warfare against Israel, in the form of an arms embargo.

“Amnesty International accusations are reckless, blatantly biased, and reflect the lack of a credible research fact-finding methodology,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “Amnesty lacks the expertise and credibility to analyze or assign blame for deaths in the context of violent confrontations in the West Bank. As in the past, the allegations in this report repeat unverifiable Palestinian ‘testimony.’”

Indeed, in a February 10 interview with Al Jazeera, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty acknowledged that “we are not an expert (sic) on military matters. So we don’t want to, kind of, pontificate on issues we don’t really understand.”

In its report, Amnesty makes numerous non-specific claims without any supporting evidence, such as “Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers did not appear to be posing a direct and immediate threat to life” and the use of “arbitrary” force. In contrast, other monitoring groups such as B’Tselem acknowledge that the majority of Palestinian casualties occurred during combat or violent clashes and confrontations with Israeli security personnel. Amnesty’s removal of this essential context and abuse of the term “civilian” further highlights the lack of credibility. Similarly, in 2009, Amnesty played a central role in the discredited Goldstone report on the Gaza conflict, as well as in a number of other allegations targeting Israel.

Likewise, NGO Monitor has shown that Amnesty’s “research” team on Israel comprises two individuals with backgrounds in anti-Israel political activism, not military and legal expertise. 

In the current report, no definitions or comparative data is provided to support Amnesty’s politicized allegations that Israeli forces are “trigger happy” and “reckless.” In fact, a review of police conduct around the world reveals that Israeli police and military conduct is far more restrained, considering the constant state of armed conflict and the sheer number of lethal situations that justify the use of deadly force, including violent riots and terror attacks. For example, according to FBI statistics, in 2008-12, more than 2,000 people were killed by U.S. police forces. One day of protests last week in Ukraine resulted in 39 to 100 people killed by law enforcement, at least 13 people were killed by police in Venezuela, and four killed and dozens injured in Thailand. Egyptian forces killed more than 500 protestors in a single day in August 2013.

“Once again, Amnesty displays its disproportionate and ideological obsession with Israel,” Prof. Steinberg continued. “The report’s publication coincides with the antisemitic BDS movement’s annual week of anti-Israel activities, using demonization to promote boycotts and sanctions. Amnesty International should be ashamed of its role in exploiting the moral foundations of universal human rights to wage political warfare against Israel.”

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