Today, Amnesty International belatedly published a report alleging that “Palestinian armed groups killed civilians on both sides in attacks amounting to war crimes” during the 2014 Gaza conflict. In the report, “Unlawful and deadly: Rocket and mortar attacks by armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict,” In 63 pages, Amnesty claims to examine “The conduct of Palestinian armed groups, including firing from residential areas and the use of indiscriminate munitions” that affected civilians in Gaza and Israel (and the West Bank).
However, this publication, like most of Amnesty’s “investigations” of armed conflict (as detailed in NGO Monitor’s analysis), lacks professional credibility and is of limited value. Its “methodology” and “fieldwork” consist of interviews, studying “relevant documentation,” and “monitor[ing] and analys[ing] public statements by the Israeli authorities during and after the conflict.”
This single “report” on Palestinian war crimes is clearly part of Amnesty’s political strategy in support for the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry (formerly led by William Schabas) and cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Amnesty played a similar central role in the now discredited Goldstone process (2009).
In “Unlawful and deadly,” Amnesty describes how photos and “video footage taken by residents at the scene” were collected by anonymous fieldworkers in Gaza, and then interpreted by an unnamed munitions expert. No independent sources are provided, and in itself, this claim is insufficient to make conclusive determinations about specific incidents.
Amnesty’s speculation stands in stark contrast to the detailed and pertinent information released this week by the Israeli army regarding its investigations. The IDF reports on specific incidents include essential information that Amnesty’s very cursory analysis fails to consider. Despite the absence of systematic and verifiable evidence, Amnesty also repeatedly alleges that “Israeli forces also committed serious violations of international law during the hostilities.”
The official focus on Hamas notwithstanding, Amnesty’s institutional and ideological antagonism toward Israel continues to be reflected in this publication. In a report supposedly devoted to Palestinian war crimes, Amnesty finds an angle – the lack of shelters in unrecognized Bedouin villages during the war – to target Israel. Amnesty also gives Hamas the benefit of the doubt in a way that has no parallel in the organization’s writings on Israel, with Amnesty providing minimalist and unjustifiable definitions of “human shielding” and attempting to parse statements by Hamas officials as not encouraging civilians to ignore Israeli warnings.
An NGO that clearly demonstrates the absence of credibility and a professional fact finding methodology in one or more publications, cannot suddenly be granted credibility in other reports. Despite the lack of credibility and methodology, Amnesty continues to prepare “additional reports…in the coming months.”