On December 10, 2020, Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights‘ director, Issam Younis, was awarded the “Franco-German Human Rights and the Rule of Law Prize.” This is a joint French and German prize created in 2016, which “is awarded every year to human rights defenders around the world, but also to lawyers who represent the human rights defenders and journalists who work to make the truth known. Through this prize, France and Germany wish to show their support for the work of these individuals.” The selection is made by the French and German foreign ministries, “based on joint proposals from the French and German embassies around the world” (translation by NGO Monitor).
Al-Mezan ties to terrorist organizations, incitement, and lawfare
In contrast to the lofty language of human rights and the rule of law, the selection of Al-Mezan represents the polar opposite of these principles. This Palestinian NGO, heavily funded by European governments, uses the façade of human rights to exploit courts and international legal bodies and to demonize Israel. Their lawfare campaigns seek arrest warrants against Israeli government officials, initiate lawsuits against companies and governments doing business with Israelis, and lobby for cases against Israelis at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
More disturbingly, a number of Al-Mezan officials and employees have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), while another had been publicly linked to Hamas – both EU-designated terrorist organizations. For more information on Al-Mezan’s ties to terror organizations and celebration of violence by its employees, read NGO Monitor’s report, “Al Mezan Center For Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
Additionally, the group and Younis have engaged with members of Hamas, the PFLP, and Islamic Jihad, including by hosting them at a public event to discuss strategies for attacking Israel at the ICC. In 2015, Al-Mezan’s “Palestine and the Expected Justice: The International Criminal Court” conference featured as speakers representatives from all three of these terrorist groups. In 2016, Issam Younis participated in a meeting hosted by the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), which included senior Hamas official and spokesperson of the Hamas government, Taher Al-Nunu, and then-leader of the PFLP in Gaza, Rabah Muhanna.
As detailed in NGO Monitor’s report, Al-Mezan employees and officials regularly engaged in the glorification of terrorism and incitement of violence:
- Hussein Hammad, responsible for Al-Mezan’s “North Gaza District” and a “Delegate to the Mobilization and Technical Assistance Unit,” celebrated the murder of an Israeli civilian, supported stabbing Israeli civilians, praised a PFLP terrorist who murdered Israeli civilians, and posted the terrorist organization’s logo (see page 4).
- The head of Al-Mezan’s Rafah branch Mohammed Abdullah praised a PFLP terrorist who murdered an Israeli civilian (see page 6).
- Al-Mezan’s accountant, Wa’el Ahmad, used social media to celebrate the assassination of the Israeli Tourism Minister by the PFLP, to explicitly call for bombings and kidnappings, and to assert that “The right will be returned by the sword and machine gun (see page 8).”
This record is incompatible with human rights advocacy. The NGO’s associations and activities, as well as those of its officials and employees, should disqualify the NGO’s leader from this prize.