Key Findings

  • The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-oPt) acts as one of the primary coordinators of NGO (non-governmental organization) funding and activity in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
  • OCHA oversees and facilitates government funding to some of the most biased and politicized regional NGOs, including a number that are very active in promoting BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and “lawfare” campaigns against Israel. Some even engage in blatantly antisemitic activities.
  • In addition, OCHA organizes “Thematic Clusters,” where UN agencies, government donors, and NGOs coordinate anti-Israel campaigning on issues including water, housing, and armed conflict.
    • These “Clusters” serve to amplify the claims of NGOs that lack the necessary research methodology and military and legal expertise to draw reliable conclusions.
    • During the 2014 Gaza war, the OCHA Protection Cluster designated Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al Mezan, and B’Tselem, to provide “data” regarding casualty statistics. These NGOs lack credible methodologies for analysis of casualty claims. Moreover, in producing and publishing these casualty statistics, the NGOs in OCHA’s “Protection Cluster” as well as OCHA itself are largely dependent on the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, which is under the control of Hamas and thus not reliable.
  • OCHA also publishes numerous reports, factsheets, and informational databases, parroting the false and distorted claims of these NGOs, thereby seeking to give credence and credibility to highly misleading accusations.
  • Furthermore, OCHA rarely, if ever, cites relevant Israeli government information, including detailed statistics published by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israel Defense Forces, or the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • OCHA’s politicization and bias appears to go beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example, on December 29, 2015, it published a “2016 Syrian Arab Republic Humanitarian Response Plan.” According to media reports, after consulting the Syrian government, OCHA “altered dozens of passages and omitted pertinent information to paint the government of Bashar al-Assad in a more favorable light.”


The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Palestinian territories (OCHA-oPt) acts as one of the primary coordinators of NGO (non-governmental organization) funding and activity in the Arab-Israeli conflict. These NGOs are highly active in promoting international BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and “lawfare” campaigns, and some even engage in blatantly antisemitic activities.

Based on the resources and impact of its status as a UN agency, OCHA amplifies their politicized and distorted claims by publishing numerous reports, factsheets, and informational databases that parrot NGO allegations. The NGO sources lack the credible research methodology and necessary military and legal expertise to draw credible conclusions. These claims are then repeated by journalists and diplomats, feature prominently in official UN reports, such as the discredited 2009 Goldstone report and the Commission of the Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza War, an provide fuel in the ongoing international delegitimization campaign against Israel.

UNOCHA Worldwide

Founded in 1998 by the UN Secretary General, with offices in over 30 countries, OCHA claims to: “Mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies,” “Advocate the rights of people in need,” “Promote preparedness and prevention,” and “Facilitate sustainable solutions.”

In 2015, UNOCHA worldwide received $233,419,698 in “Paid & Pledged” international do-nations (accessed January 27, 2016).

OCHA receives much of its funding from the 27-member1Donor Support Group (ODSG),” which is composed of “government donors who act as a ‘sounding board’ and a source of advice on policy, management, budgetary and financial questions.”

Donors can also “choose to fund humanitarian projects that are implemented by third parties (UN partners and NGO’s) through so-called SDCs [Specially Designated Contributions].”

One such SDC, called the “Protection Standby Capacity (ProCap) and Gender Standby Capacity (GenCap) Projects,” is specifically designed to “cover[] the Norwegian Refugee Council’s management and deployments of senior protection officers and senior gender advisors, as well as related training programmes.” (See below for additional information on the Norwegian Refugee Council.)


OCHA established a Country Office in 2002 ostensibly “to support international efforts to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territory].”2

According to its website, OCHA-oPt works with “a range of operational partners on the ground, including UN agencies, international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, to assess the needs of people affected by conflict and disasters across the region.” It claims to seek regular dialogue with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities at various levels in order to promote what it claims is, “respect for international humanitarian and human rights law.” OCHA also maintains an “NGO Dialogue Platform,” which “complements the existing dialogue between OCHA and NGOs at the country level” and aims “to inform global policy issues.”


On its website, OCHA states that it “relies on the generosity of donors to fund its key activities in coordination and advocacy.” The only funding listed there is from 2013, with income of $4.9 million3.

NGO Monitor research has identified more recent funding listed in other OCHA documents. Donors for 201516 include EU ($2,369,026), Switzerland ($5,099,434), Sweden ($1,399,406), Germany ($4,210,682), Belgium ($5,530,974), Ireland ($640,649), Norway ($1,064,729), Spain ($549,451), and Canada ($385,208) (last accessed May 3, 2016). (Some of these figures include pledges that may not have been received by OCHA at time of publication. See Appendix I for detailed funding information.)

Political Advocacy

OCHA regularly places sole blame for the continuation of the conflict on Israel, alleging that the “situation is characterized by a protracted occupation,” “the systematic denial of Palestinian rights,” and a “lack of respect for international law, and a lack of accountability for violations.”

As part of its agenda, OCHA publishes weekly reports on “Protection of Civilians,” monthly “Humanitarian Bulletins,” fact sheets, case studies, and various other publications that promote a narrative based solely on Palestinian victimization and Israeli aggression, while minimizing Palestinian terror, rejectionism, incitement, and legitimate Israeli national security concerns.

These publications often repeat the unverified and unreliable claims of political advocacy NGOs, as well as information provided by the PLO and Hamas. OCHA’s claims are subsequently referenced, cited, and quoted at an extremely high volume by international media and government officials, as well as in official UN documents, including 60 references in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the 2014 Gaza War.

While OCHA publishes numerous resources on casualties claims and “Gaza Crossings’ Operations” (including the amount of people and goods allowed into and out of various border crossings), repeating the claims of politicized NGOs, it rarely, if ever, cites relevant Israeli government statistics, such as information published by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israel Defense Forces, or the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, OCHA regularly presents data in a manipulative way that erases the context of terrorism and distorts law and morality. For example, OCHA fails to make distinctions between Palestinian civilians and attackers, thereby amplifying Palestinian casualty claims, and drawing a false symmetry between legal Israeli self-defense and illegal attacks by terrorists. In its February 2-8, 2015 report, OCHA presents pie-charts purporting to show the number of “Palestinian fatalities by Israeli forces in the oPt”. Yet, this data as presented does not provide any information as to how the fatalities took place, including how many of the fatalities occurred while Palestinians were attempting to murder Israeli civilians or engaged in violent confrontations with Israeli law enforcement. As a result, it is impossible to make any meaningful assessments from OCHA’s figures.

OCHA similarly publishes a “Vulnerability Profile,” claiming to provide “the most comprehensive information on physical protection” of the Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank. According to OCHA, an estimated 297,900 Palestinians live under full Israeli security and administrative control. This claim, however, is nearly six times higher than the actual population, based on verifiable evidence. Shaul Arieli, a retired IDF colonel and prominent activist on the left of the Israeli political spectrum, including membership in an NGO known as the Council for Peace and Security has stated that OCHA’s report is “deception. Practically speaking, this [data] is meaningless. What [OCHA] did is completely political…”

Further illustrating OCHA’s biased agenda, its website features a “Demolition System,” which serves as “an inter-agency tool which tracks Israel’s demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian property in the West Bank.” This “system” omits the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including legal processes underway, disputed claims relating to ownership, illegal building, and terrorist affiliations of residents.

OCHA’s website also highlights a number of biased videos reflecting the Palestinian narrative, including “How long does it take to demolish a house?,” “Gaza: Only Rubble Where Homes Once Stood,” and “Walled Horizons.” These videos show scenes of destruction and despair, while completely omitting Palestinian terror, including rocket attacks against Israeli population centers and tunnels running beneath the border into Israel. The videos are devoid of all context and are aimed solely at demonizing Israel.

Similarly, OCHA repeatedly accuses Israel of maintaining a “blockade” on Gaza, causing an “acute water and energy crisis,” as well as other such allegations that distort the situation in Gaza.

In sharp contrast, reportedly, OCHA intentionally removed passages in its “2016 Syrian Arab Republic Humanitarian Response Plan” in order to paint the government of Bashar al-Assad in a more favorable light. According to Foreign Policy Magazine, after comparing the final document to an earlier draft “it is evident that 10 references to ‘sieged’ or ‘besieged’ areas, such as that in Madaya — the town in southwestern Syria that saw 23 people die of starvation over several months before the arrival of a U.N. aid convoy in mid-January — were removed.” In addition, OCHA failed to mention the “barrel bombs” that the Assad regime drops indiscriminately on populated areas.

Coordination with NGOs

Humanitarian Response Plan

The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is one of the primary documents outlining UNOCHA’s agenda and view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is based solely on the Palestinian narrative of victimization and Israeli aggression. The HRP outlines OCHA’s regional objectives, which are aimed, directly and indirectly, at promoting “lawfare” against Israel. (In previous years, OCHA released similar documents under different names, including the “Consolidated Appeal Process” and the “Strategic Response Plan.”)

OCHA’s 2016 HRP alleges that “Violations of IHL [International Humanitarian Law] and IHRL [International Human Rights Law] are at the heart of the oPt crisis, and are the main driver of humanitarian vulnerability of Palestinians…the primary responsibility lies with the occupying power.”

On this basis, OCHA explains that “Legal counselling and representation,” much of which is implemented by OCHA’s NGO partners, “will prioritize victims seeking accountability for IHL and IHRL violations, including violations of the right to life and physical integrity by Israeli security forces and settlers, those at risk of demolitions, forced evictions and displacement.” These services are not offered for Israeli victims of Palestinian violence.

Humanitarian Country Teams (HCT)

OCHA’s approach and agenda are largely informed by anti-Israel political advocacy NGOs. A Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), composed of UN and NGO representatives, acts as the “senior humanitarian coordination policy and decision making forum on issues related to advocacy, access, humanitarian programming and response.” The HCT also informs the activities of OCHA’s Thematic Clusters (see below).

The HCT maintains an Advocacy Working Group (AWG), which coordinates “advocacy ef-forts amongst HCT members” and “develop[s] common messaging on humanitarian con-cerns, focusing on upholding international humanitarian law and protecting civilians, pre-venting forced displacement, and ensuring freedom of movement and humanitarian access.”

Both the HCT and AWG are highly active in promoting political warfare against Israel.

The NGO umbrella groups Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) are represented in the AWG:

  • AIDA regularly engages in international advocacy by acting as “a collective voice of its members and representing their interests to key decision makers.” Many of its member organizations are active in BDS and lawfare campaigns, and demonize Is-rael in the international arena.
  • PNGO is an umbrella organization of Palestinian NGOs, many of which lead anti-Israel BDS and lawfare campaigns, maintain radical anti-peace agendas, and even engage in blatant antisemitism. On February 5, 2015, PNGO published a statement calling upon the international community to “end Israel’s endemic impunity with re-gards their ethnic cleansing policies (sic)… in Palestine.” PNGO has also opposed negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, in part because progress in the peace process harms boycott efforts.

Funding Coordination

OCHA oversees and facilitates government funding via several aid frameworks to some of the most biased and politicized regional NGOs, including a number that are very active in promoting BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and “lawfare” campaigns against Israel:

Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP)

The aforementioned Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is one of the primary frameworks through which OCHA-oPt coordinates funding to NGOs. The HRP outlines OCHA’s politicized approach regarding its activities in the region, as well as which NGOs should receive vast amounts of international government funding.

In 2016, OCHA-oPt requested $571 million in aid from international donors for some of the most highly biased and politicized NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“Participating Organizations & Funding Requirements” in the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan include:

  • Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) – The NRC has funded hundreds of cases via NGOs in Israeli courts. A lawyer affiliated with a 2013 NRC program that funded 677 such cases called this an attempt to “try every possible legal measure to disrupt the Israeli judicial system… as many cases as possible are registered and that as many cases are appealed to increase the workload of courts and the Supreme Court to such an extent that there will be a blockage.” (emphasis added)
  • Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) – On June 19, 2014, Israel’s Defense Minister declared IRW to be illegal, based on its alleged role in funneling money to Hamas, and banned it from operating in Israel and the West Bank. (Hamas is a designated terror organization by Israel, the U.S., EU, and Canada.)
  • Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)- Leader of anti-Israel “lawfare” campaigns, such as an intensive campaign vis-à-vis the International Criminal Court and exploiting courts in democratic countries in order to harass Israeli officials with civil lawsuits and criminal investigations.
  • Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) – Among the leaders of political warfare against Israel, seeking to further BDS campaigns; a Palestinian “right of return”; and inflammatory accusations of Israeli “apartheid,” “racism,” and “ethnic cleansing.”
  • Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) – A leader and mobilizer of anti-Israel BDS campaigns; regularly promotes allegations of Israeli “apartheid,” “collective punishment,” “war crimes,” and “violations of international law and human rights.
  • Ma’an Development Center – Published “Boycotts, Divestment & Sanctions: Lessons learned in effective solidarity,” a guide to grassroots and international BDS campaigns.

In previous years, OCHA made appeals on behalf of:

  • BADIL promotes a so-called Palestinian “right of return,” which, if implemented, would in effect mean the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. In 2015, BADIL published a cartoon depicting a tsunami of keys rising up and washing over what is supposed to be the “negotiation table” and two people, one of whom is wearing a kippah with a Jewish star on it. Another 2015 cartoon shows a clenched fist rising up through a map of the State of Israel with the caption reading “Return is our Right and our Destiny.”
    • In addition, on May 5, 2010, BADIL awarded a prize to a blatantly antisemitic cartoon, featuring a grotesque caricature of a Jewish man standing over a dead Arab child and holding a pitchfork dripping with blood.
  • Medical Aid for Palestinians promotes distorted and false narratives and demonizing rhetoric under the guise of medical expertise and scientific fact. MAP founder Dr. Swee Ang was one of the main authors of the “Open Letter for the People of Gaza,” published in The Lancet medical journal (July 23, 2014), which accused Israel of “war crimes” and carrying out a propaganda campaign that “justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre.” Swee Ang also promoted a video made by American white supremacist David Duke, who was expelled from Italy for “allegedly trying to establish a pan-European neo-Nazi group.”

2014 Gaza “Crisis Appeal”

Following the 2014 Gaza war, OCHA facilitated a “Crisis Appeal” to aid NGOs in acquiring their requested funding amounts from international donors. The requests totaled over $300 million. A number of the NGOs are highly active in publicly and falsely condemning Israel’s self-defense measures, including making unverifiable claims, distorting international law, and fueling the international delegitimization campaign against Israel. (See Appendix III for partial list of 2014 “Gaza Crisis Appeals.”)  

Humanitarian Pooled Fund (HPF)- formerly known as the Emergency Response Fund (ERF)

The goal of the HPF is to support the delivery of aid identified under Humanitarian Response Plan, while also allocating funds to “unforeseen events or special requirements.” The HPF also aims to “foster[] cooperation and coordination” within and between OCHA’s thematic clusters (see below) and humanitarian partner organizations.

OCHA claims that “[i]nterventions supported by the HPF are to be consistent with the core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.” In contrast to these stated objectives, the HPF coordinates funding to highly biased, pro-BDS NGOs, including Islamic Relief, ARIJ, Ma’an Development Center, Medical Aid for Palestinians, DanChurch Aid, and World Council of Churches.

Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)

CERF pools donor government contributions into a fund to be used to provide “immediate use at the onset of emergencies, in rapidly deteriorating situations and in protracted crises that fail to attract sufficient resources.”

In emergencies, “humanitarian organizations apply jointly for funding. Funds are immediately released if these proposals meet CERF’s criteria, i.e. the needs are urgent and the proposed activities will save lives.”

In 2014, CERF allocated $10,825,145 to the Palestinian territories.

“Thematic Clusters”

Thematic “Clusters:” Bringing together UN Representatives, NGOs, and Government Donors to Amplify Distorted Allegations

OCHA coordinates several “Thematic Clusters,” whereby UN agencies, government donors, and NGOs collaborate on campaigning. In essence, these “Clusters” serve to amplify the biased and distorted claims of political advocacy NGOs in order to bolster OCHA’s agenda of promoting the Palestinian narrative of victimization and Israeli aggression.

OCHA operates Clusters in the areas of Protection; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Shelter; Health and Nutrition; Education; and Food Security.

Protection Cluster

The Protection Cluster, which is responsible for “[m]onitoring and document[ing] violations,” “[p]rovision of legal aid,” and “[a]dvocacy and interventions with Israeli authorities (among other issues) is one of the most problematic in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  • During the 2014 Gaza war, three NGOs from the cluster – B’Tselem, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – were designated to provide casualty statistics. In turn, their statistics were repeated without question by OCHA and other UN bodies, the media, European officials, and the Schabas-Davis commission.
    • These NGOs lack credible research methodologies to draw credible conclusions and determine casualty status (i.e. civilian, combatant). It appears that the primary source for much of the information disseminated by the NGOs and OCHA was the Hamas Ministry of Health. In addition to the question of propaganda, other NGOs noted that forensic materials were collected in a “haphazard” and unprofessional manner by the Ministry of Health.
    • PCHR and Al Mezan do not conduct background investigations into allegedly killed “civilians.” Independent review of NGO casualty claims show that many “civilian” casualties were actually found to be combatants and members of terror groups. In addition, it is unknown how many listed as casualties of Israeli operations may have been killed by misfired rockets, executed as collaborators, or died from natural causes. They also fail to condemn Hamas’ violation of IHL by systematically placing civilians in close proximity to combatants and military infrastructure.
    • Al Mezan and PCHR are also leaders in promoting “lawfare” cases against Israelis in Europe and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Their lack of credibility is also reflected in their highly politicized agenda, including accusations that the IDF (“Israeli Occupation Forces” in NGO parlance) is responsible for “massacres,” and “war crimes,” as well as “disproportionate” and “criminal” attacks against civilians.

As the Israeli NGO of the Protection Cluster, B’Tselem provided the appearance of credulity to the casualty claims disseminated by OCHA officials and repeated widely by journalists, political leaders, and others.

  • B’Tselem is heavily involved in the international demonization campaign against Israel and similarly lacks all credibility and research methodology, in general, and in particular on casualty claims in Gaza. As an Israeli organization, B’Tselem is unable to send personnel or verify information in Gaza, particularly during major conflicts. Its only source of independent information is from telephone interviews with Gazan residents, whose claims cannot be verified.
  • On July 27, B’Tselem posted a “Note concerning testimonies about the ‘Protective Edge’ campaign” acknowledging that “With the current military campaign ongoing, B’Tselem is taking testimony from Gaza residents, mainly by telephone. B’Tselem verifies, to the best of its ability, the reliability and precision of the information reported; nevertheless, in these circumstances, reports may be incomplete or contain errors. Given the urgency of informing the public about events in Gaza, B’Tselem has decided to publish the information now available.” (emphasis added). Although many errors were found in B’Tselem’s reporting, the NGO has not corrected its misinformation.

Legal Task Force

The Legal Taskforce, which is a working group of the Protection Cluster, is chaired by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and is responsible for coordinating legal responses by 14 Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs. The NGOs involved in the Legal Task Force include: Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Adalah, Addameer, Al Haq, B’Tselem, Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS), Hamoked, Ir Amim, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), St. Yves, and Yesh Din.

Examples of activities of NGOs involved in the Legal Taskforce:

  • Addameer advocates for Palestinian political prisoners, while altogether omitting the context of terror; Chairperson Abdullatif Ghaith was banned from travelling internationally because of his alleged membership in the PFLP terror organization.
  • Al Haq is a leader of anti-Israel “lawfare” campaigns, exploiting courts in democratic countries in order to harass Israeli officials with civil lawsuits and criminal investigations.
  • JLAC is highly active in promoting BDS campaigns, lobbying international bodies, and utilizing highly inflammatory rhetoric, alleging that “brutality and sadism is the true face of Zionism” and accusing Israel of “savage,” abhorrent and fascist” prac-tices. On August 30, 2009, General Director Issam Abu-Haj wrote an open letter, repeating an age-old antisemitic blood libel, alleging that “Israel is stealing the or-gans of [] dead” Palestinians.
  • Defence for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS) – Highly active in anti-Israel BDS campaigns; lobbying the UN, EU and other international bodies; and promoting a Palestinian “right of return,” which would effectually mean the elimination of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Water, Sanitation and Hygience (WASH) Cluster

The Water and Sanitation Cluster is another highly problematic cluster active in the region. Like its partner NGOs, OCHA plays a major role in promoting a distorted narrative on water rights and availability, ignoring the negotiated agreements (i.e. Oslo Accords) that determine the water arrangements, internal Palestinian dynamics, and other complexities – in order to falsely accuse Israel of violating international law on water rights. (See Bar Ilan University study for an analysis of these false claims.)