Allegations regarding Israeli treatment of Palestinian prisoners – a group that comprises primarily convicted terrorists guilty of murder; bombings of buses, malls, and cafes; and other atrocities – are often accompanied by hunger strikes and other stunts to attract attention. As part of this campaign, the PLO instituted an annual “day of solidarity with prisoners” on April 17, to mark the release of a Fatah terrorist in exchange for a kidnapped civilian. Featured prisoners include members of terrorist organizations including Fatah terror groups, the PFLP, and Islamic Jihad.
In 2017, the media campaign included an op-ed by Marwan Barghouti in The New York Times, accusing Israel of a “dual legal regime, a form of judicial apartheid” and an “inhumane system of colonial and military occupation aim[ing] to break the spirit of prisoners and the nation to which they belong.” Barghouti was the leader of the armed wing of Fatah and a founder of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and was convicted in 2004 on five counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. (See here for Barghouti’s statement of indictment and list of terror activities.) The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade was responsible for dozens of suicide bombings and shooting attacks, most notably at a Bat Mitzvah in 2002 and at the Tel Aviv bus station in 2003, killing dozens. The group also employed children to carry out attacks including suicide bombings. The failure of the Times to note this information drew significant condemnation of the op-ed. His criminal history and confinement in an Israeli jail notwithstanding, Barghouti is considered a leading candidate to replace Mahmoud Abbas as head of the Fatah organization.
As in previous years, NGOs played a central role in disseminating campaign propaganda. Many of these NGOs receive foreign government funding, and support discriminatory BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel and some have alleged ties to terror groups. These statements falsely accuse Israel of legal violations, and omit the violence and terror for which these prisoners are in prison. Many of these NGO claims were repeated by the media.
Addameer, an official affiliate of the PFLP terrorist organization (funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and others), led media efforts this year. It published infographics, and launched a social media campaign urging people to engage in BDS and organize protests and demonstrations. Human Rights Watch’s new Israel and Palestine Director and many other NGOs and activists that claim to promote universal human rights retweeted the PFLP affiliate’s materials.
Other PFLP-linked NGOs intensely engaged in promoting Prisoner’s Day include the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, European Union, and Ireland), Defense for Children International – Palestine (funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, European Union, and others) and the Alternative Information Center (funded by Sweden, France, and the European Union).
International Solidarity Movement, which has sent volunteers to serve as human shields for and otherwise protect terrorists, also tweeted.
Pro-BDS NGOs were also integrally involved in the social media campaign:
- War on Want, (funded by the European Union, United Kingdom, and Ireland)
- American Muslim for Palestine
- Amnesty International
- Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC) (funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, and Ireland)
- Al Mezan (funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, European Union, and Germany)
- Jewish Voice for Peace (funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tides Foundation, Firedoll Foundation, and Schwab Charitable Foundation)
- US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund)
- Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) (funded by World Council of Churches and HEKS)
In addition to JVP and US Campaign, several other NGOs funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation participated in the campaign, including Adalah (also funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, and the European Union) and +972 (funded by Germany, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Foundation for Middle East Peace).