Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS)
|Founded||1979 by a group of doctors and health professionals as a “grassroots” and “community-based” health organization.|
|In their own words||“Health is viewed as an entry point for social change and community development."|
- Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) does not include any financial data, donor information, or sources of funding on its website, reflecting a complete lack of transparency and accountability.
- In 2022, Italy granted $3,853,485 to the World Health Organization for a project with the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO).
- PNGO is an umbrella framework with 142 NGO members based in Gaza and the West Bank, many of which support BDS campaigns and have ties to the PFLP terror group. Multiple PNGO officials have ties to terrorist organizations, and at least five PNGO members have ties to EU-designated terror organizations, including through their employees and/or board members who are directly involved in activities and programs.
- In 2020-2022, PMRS is an implementing partner on a €1.1 million project funded by the European Union for “Safeguarding Palestinians living in east Jerusalem lives and their livelihoods.” Other partners include Ma’an Development Center, Palestinian Vision Organisation, and Treatment & Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Torture.
- In 2020-2021, Sweden granted $2.3 million to PMRS.
- In 2021, the UN oPt Humanitarian Fund provided $649,999 in a joint grant to PMRS, Abdel Shafi Community Health Association (ACHA), and the Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA).
- ACHA (formerly known as the Red Crescent Society for the Gaza Strip – RCS4GS) was founded and is directed by senior members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Other employees have demonstrated support for Palestinian terror groups and their actions. On multiple occasions, ACHA facilities were used by the PFLP to hold events.
- In 2020, PMRS received $1.5 million from UN-OCHA’s “occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund” for “Improving access to adequate health and nutritional care services for children under five and women in Access restricted areas of Gaza Strip,” “Emergency WASH intervention to improve the water supply chain in unconnected communities in Area C to mitigate the negative impacts of the COVID-19 crisis,” and “Providing home care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 during home isolation and scale up COVID-19 infection prevention and control.”
- In 2018-2020, PMRS is receiving €764,664 from France for “strengthening the resilience of Palestinian youth in East -Jerusalem and its mobilization around citizen and solidarity initiatives.”
- In 2016-2020, Sweden granted $5.3 million to PMRS.
- President of Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), Mustafa Barghouti, ran as an independent candidate in the Palestinian presidential race in 2005, served as the Palestinian Minister of Information in 2006, and is currently serving as the Secretary-General of the Palestine National Initiative (PNI).
- PMRS regularly invites “delegations of consuls and country representatives to vulnerable areas… [and] international solidarity groups to witness and document human rights abuses.”
- The “Advocacy and Networking” section of the PMRS website states that it is dedicated to “lobbying and advocacy with the aim to influence national policies.”
- PMRS runs a “youth program” that claims to aid in “empowering young people and enabling them to take on an active role in shaping public health awareness and culture. This goal is sought by PMRS through the operation of a number of community-based youth centers located throughout the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).” The program includes:
- “Participation in marches on national events.”
- “Providing first aid and emergency response in confrontation sites,” including “transporting martyrs from confrontation.” “Additionally, the Program helps in creating first aid teams in villages adjacent to the apartheid Wall in order to be available in situations of emergency, such as in public anti-Wall marches.”
Ties to the PFLP
- In February 2022, Mustafa Barghouti participated in a conference, “Colonialism Will Go Down,” organized by Hamas.
- In May 2019, Mustafa Barghouti attended a memorial event organized by the PFLP. It centered on PFLP political bureau member Rabah Muhanna, who, according to information posted by the PFLP, “contributed to the establishment” of several PFLP-affiliated NGOs. The hall was decorated with PFLP paraphernalia.
- On March 27, 2019, Sajed Mizher, a “first aid volunteer” for PMRS was killed by the Israeli security forces “during confrontations…in the southern West Bank district of Bethlehem.” According to PMRS, Mizher was shot “as he was performing his duty, in his first aid uniform, during a raid by Israeli force on the camp” (emphasis added).
- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist organization –designated as such by the EU, US, Canada, and Israel, posted about the “pride and honor of the death of our comrade the medic Sajed Abd Al-Hakim Mizher (17 years old) from Dheisheh who was martyred of his wounds caused during his attempts to help those wounded in the clashes, ignited in the camp by the occupation soldiers who invaded the camp.”
- Mizher’s funeral procession featured many individuals wearing military gear, PFLP paraphernalia, and PFLP banners. Mizher’s body was also adorned in PFLP paraphernalia, as well as a PMRS orange reflective vest. (For more details, see NGO Monitor’s blog “Palestinian NGO Medic Killed in Bethlehem Clashes Had Ties to PFLP Terror Group.”)
- In January 2019, Mustafa Barghouti, president of PMRS, participated in a conference organized by the PFLP titled “The crime of normalization and ways of confrontation,” which was held “in honor of the 11th anniversary of the departure of its founder, Dr. George Habash.” During the conference, Barghotui presented a paper on “The role of parties and factions in promoting the boycott concept.”
Demonization of Israel
- PMRS rhetoric includes accusations of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” and “war crimes.”
- Participates in discriminatory campaigns such as “Love in the Time of Apartheid Campaign: The Palestinian Campaign for Repealing Israel’s Racist Law Denying Family Reunification.”
- PMRS runs “Palestine Monitor,” an “independent news website” meant to “expose life in Palestine under occupation to the West.”
- Palestine Monitor’s publishes lengthy “Factbooks.” The latest, published in 2015, features virulently antisemitic cartoons that trivialize the Holocaust; Barghouti personally signed off on the publication with the statement “We will obtain our freedom, in two states or in a one state solution.”
- The cartoons featured in the 2015 Factbook include a depiction of a pile of emaciated dead bodies in striped uniforms under the caption “Gaza”; a cartoon of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stamping Palestinian babies with the word “terrorist,” as they are transported on a conveyor belt into a smoking oven; and a drawing of an elderly Palestinian woman with a blood-dripping “1948” tattooed on her arm, invoking the numbers that were tattooed on the arms of Jewish prisoners in concentration camps (see Appendix 1 for caricatures below).
- In September 2022, PMRS endorsed a campaign titled “Investigate and Dismantle Apartheid.” The campaign is a “global Palestinian-led anti-apartheid effort…directed towards activating UN mechanisms to investigate and dismantle Israel’s apartheid regime by mobilizing grassroot efforts.”
- In May 2022, PMRS was a signatory on a petition titled “The Return Appeal” calling on the United Nations to “take all necessary steps and measures for immediately holding the occupation’s state accountable for all the crimes, the latter has so far committed against the Palestinian people, within strict legal means that would not allow the occupation’s criminals to evade interrogation or possible trials.”
- In November 2021, PMRS was a signatory on a statement urging the United States to condemn the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the statement, “The main task of our institutions and of Palestinian human rights defenders is to work towards an end to the occupation, the dismantling of the apartheid regime and towards the realization of our collective human rights to self-determination and the right of return…The undersigned organizations therefore declare that they will not meet with the U.S. Ambassador. We further call upon all other Palestinian organizations to adopt a similar position and demonstrate their clear and principled refusal to refuse the normalization of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.”
- In May 2021, in the context of the fighting in Gaza and Israel, Mustafa Barghouti stated in an interview with Democracy Now that Israel’s actions “really is an act of genocide.”
- In May 2021, PMRS published an article titled “A timeline of Palestine- How a land with an indigenous population was and continues to be ethnically cleansed.”
- In April 2021, Barghouti participated in a “Global Online Rally” for “#Nakba73 Week of Action” as “The Nakba continues today… Palestinians living abroad and their descendants, uprooted by Israel’s ethnic cleansing, are denied their right of return, enshrined in international law.”
- In March 2021, PMRS participated in a webinar titled “From the U.S. to Palestine: End Medical Apartheid.”
- In January 2021, PMRS, alongside a number of Palestinian organizations, issued a declaration that the “Vaccine Roll-Out Exposes Israel’s Inhumane Acts of Apartheid.” PMRS falsely claimed that Israel has “legal obligations” to “ensure that quality vaccines be provided to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and control.” The NGOs altogether ignore that Palestinians residing in Jerusalem are part of the Israeli health care system; that under the Oslo Accords the PA is responsible for health care of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; and that the PA has adopted its own vaccine policy for its population.
- In April 2020, PMRS was a signatory on a letter to International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, stating it is “Time to Investigate Crimes in Palestine, Time for Justice” and calling for “perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Palestine” to “be held accountable.”
- In December 2019, Barghouti wrote an article coining the term “Ghettostans,” stating that the “difference between South African Bantustans and those in Palestine is only in that ours are smaller in size, but with an even more hideous Israeli administration.”
- On June 30, 2017, Barghouti spoke at the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) “Forum to Mark Fifty Years of Occupation,” stating that “What we have today is not only occupation. What we have today is a combination of the longest occupation in modern history with a very profound system of apartheid. A much worse apartheid system then what prevailed in South Africa” (emphasis added). He furthered called for individuals to “put every effort you can in contribution to the strengthening of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions. BDS is the most powerful instrument, and it should be used, and it is effective, and that’s why the Israeli government is so crazy and mad about it” (emphasis added).
- In July 2014, PMRS denied Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens by posting on its Facebook account that “under the false pretense of self-defense, Israel launched yet a new deadly massive attack on Gaza…It is time to finally debunk once and for all the Israeli narrative….No, Palestinians are not the aggressors. No, there is no right to self-defense…There is no such thing as restraint…The war Israel is waging on Gaza right now is not about self-defense” (emphasis added).
- In December 2013, Ghassan Zaqout and Aed Yagh, who are affiliated with PMRS, contributed to a paper in the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance titled “Emergency preparedness and response of the Palestinian health system to an Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, occupied Palestinian territory, in 2012: a qualitative assessment,” which blames “Israeli violence” entirely, failing to consider the role of terror groups operating within civilian areas in Gaza that necessitate Israel’s self-defense measures.
- In 2013, in an interview with Raja Shehadeh, a founder of Al-Haq, Mustafa Barghouti stated, “The international isolation of Israel and its identification with the hated apartheid system would open doors for lots of pressure, including from the Jewish communities outside. In a way, they are more sensitive to the description of the country they identify with as an apartheid state than the Israelis themselves.”
- In 2009, in collaboration with Physicians for Human Rights– Israel, participated in a fact-finding mission to document “violations of human rights in the Gaza Strip” and the “80 war crimes and violations committed by IOF troops during the Israeli war on Gaza such as assaults on and wanton killings of civilians.”
- Mustafa Barghouti, president of PMRS, takes part in BDS activities, stating, “We are now in the early stages of a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions directed at this Israeli government for its refusal to abide by international law. Such action successfully overturned Jim Crow laws in the American South and apartheid in South Africa, and we are slowly applying it to Israeli occupation and apartheid.”
- In April 2022, Barghouti participated in a webinar where he drew false equivalencies between Russia/Ukraine and Israel, stating “When you see 6,000 punitive acts and sanctions taken against Russia within a period of two weeks and not a single sanction on Israel over the last 74 years of ethnic cleansing, the longest occupation in modern history and the worst system of apartheid ever, not a single sanction, nothing, not even against illegal settlers.”
- In July 2020, PMRS was a signatory on a statement calling for “Immediate targeted sanctions to stop Israel’s annexation and apartheid.” The statement further called for “A ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” “Suspension of trade and cooperation agreements with Israel,” and “Investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid.”
- In February 2020, following the release of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel, Barghouti stated that “These companies should be subjected to accountability including boycott and divestment for their grave violations.”
- In October 2019, Barghouti participated in an event titled “Solidarity with Palestine: Next steps for the UK Trade Union movement” that discussed how the “trade union movement is a crucial part of building lasting solidarity with the Palestinian people.” The event also examined “solidarity campaigns, including BDS, to pressure Israel into complying with international law and the universal principles of human rights.”
- In 2019, Barghouti supported the Irish “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied territories)” bill which would make it illegal for Irish citizens and residents to import or sell “settlement goods” or to provide or attempt to provide “settlement services.” According to Barghouti, the bill is a “great victory for the BDS movement…we will seek to pass similar laws in a number of European countries in the near future.”
- In November 2017, Barghouti participated in a conference hosted by Sadaka Ireland titled “50 Years of Occupation: the Roadblocks to Justice for Palestinians” discussing the “critical role of the international community in bringing about an end to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.” The conference called for Ireland “to compel Israel to cease and reverse its illegal activities rather than merely calling for peace negotiations between both sides to resume.”
- In December 2016, Mustafa Barghouti expressed his support for BDS by stating “I am so proud of the fact that many international activists from the BDS movement…are Jewish activists who themselves believe … this Israeli government policy is very dangerous to the future of their people as well.”
- In March 2016, following Israel “preventing West Bank producers from transporting their goods into East Jerusalem,” Barghouti posted on his Facebook page that Israel’s decision amounted to a “massacre of national Palestinian products” and was the beginning of “an official Israeli boycott against Palestinian products.” Barghouti called on the Palestinian Authority to respond by “impos[ing] an immediate ban on the entry of all Israeli products and a comprehensive boycott.”
- In May 2015, PMRS was a signatory on a letter to the European Union to “Stop funding Elbit Systems,” as any “funding to or cooperation with Elbit Systems represents a form a support for activities and its contribution to Israeli violations of international law.”
- Signatory to a 2015 initiative of the BDS National Committee for “the Nakba Day” to “join and build” the BDS movement and to place an embargo on Israel.
- Was one of the organizers of a BDS conference in Ramallah in 2007, where Palestinian activists, together with activists from Europe and North America, discussed “ways to promote all forms of boycott against Israel among Palestinian community organizations, unions, as well as political, academic and cultural institutions.”
- Member of the Palestinian Network of NGOs (PNGO) which refused to sign the anti-terror clause that is a condition of US government funding, stating “that its members would not sign funding agreements that included the ATC [Anti-Terror Certificate]: this is now a condition for membership under PNGO byelaws (sic)” (emphasis added). According to PMRS’ website, “PMRS helped to found the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), and continues to be an active member.”
- In January 2020, PNGO vehemently opposed a new clause in European Union grant contracts with Palestinian NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists. PNGO claimed that Palestinian terrorist organizations are “political parties.”
- In April 2017, PNGO called on the international community not to “use aid to undermine legitimate Palestinian resistance.” According to PNGO, “We reject all de-legitimization or criminalization of lawful Palestinian resistance, whether in form of allegations of terrorism, anti-semitism or otherwise… We call on all governments and aid providers to respect our right to lawful resistance, support Palestinian human rights defenders, and ensure equal, impartial and transparent access to funding for all.”
- In March 2016, as a member of Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), PNGO stated that “Israel’s current government, its most racist ever, has dropped all pretences of ‘enlightenment’ and ‘democracy’. This has helped to expose Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to world public opinion like never before.”
- Collaborates with Grassroots International, Christian Aid, and Medico International on a variety of projects.
- In the past, PMRS has partnered with World Vision.
Funding to PMRS
Cartoons from 2015 Palestine Monitor Factbook
A video uncovered by NGO Monitor researchers captures the breadth and ongoing relevance of the PFLP’s NGO network. The video shows NGO officials, including those who were subsequently arrested and indicted for orchestrating a deadly terror attack, attending a PFLP event.
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