[Opinion] Findings, But Few Facts
Click here for NGO Monitor’s Analysis, “Another Amnesty Gaza Report Fails All Credibility Tests,” November 5, 2014
‘Fact finding” in armed conflict has become an industry. Despite the nearly ubiquitous presence of NGO fact-finding in armed conflict situations, few responsible consumers of NGO products have actually examined the methodologies and factual bases underlying NGO claims. Surprisingly, no agreed standards exist for NGO fact-finding, and NGOs have largely rejected efforts to regulate it.
In early November, the Amuta for NGO Responsibility, an Israel-based non-profit whose projects include NGO Monitor, co-sponsored a lecture by Professor Asa Kasher at the UN Library in Geneva, discussing these very issues.
A November 2014 publication issued by Amnesty International, “Families Under the Rubble,” exemplifies the problems laid out by Kasher. In the document, Amnesty draws broad conclusions that Israel showed “callous indifference” to civilians and “fail[ed] to take necessary precautions” in its targeting. The NGO superpower further claims that due to the “expected” civilian harm, which was well known according to Amnesty, Israel should have canceled, postponed or revised the “choice of means and timing” of its attacks.
Amnesty provides no analysis as to how it drew these conclusions. Amnesty does not explain how it knows what “harm” Israel “expected,” what intelligence Israel received prior to its operations, or how an attack could be equally effective if its timing were changed. Amnesty does not entertain the possibility that Israel was returning enemy fire, targeting rocket launchers, or destroying weapons depots or tunnel entrances. It does not state whether it considered the impact on Israeli civilians in recommending postponing or canceling attacks.
Amnesty claims that it vetted its work with “military experts,” yet these individuals are unnamed. Amnesty admits it did not have access to Gaza and so relied on two unnamed “field workers.” Again, information as to affiliations or expertise is not provided.
Amnesty has not issued reports detailing attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinian terror groups, describing mass displacement of hundreds of thousands in southern Israel, and documenting the extensive economic and property damage caused to Israeli civilian infrastructure.
…it is clear that Amnesty has failed to live up to professional fact-finding standards and ethical norms.