As leading corporations and industries from fashion to automotive production look to retool and adapt their operations to meet the global threat of COVID-19, human rights NGOs (non-governmental organizations) remain committed to the only strategy they know, reflexive Israel-bashing. In their recent observations on Gaza’s preparedness for a potential virus outbreak, many such groups promote ideas that are at best irrelevant and divorced from reality, and at worst reflect malicious intent.
The Israeli organization Gisha illustrates this phenomenon well. Elevated to greater prominence when a March 29 tweet from Democratic presidential hopeful, Senator Bernie Sanders promoted one of its recent statements, the group has long lobbied for abandoning policies designed to protect Israeli civilians from Gaza-based terrorism. In particular, Gisha has sought to drastically reduce Israeli oversight over the passage of materials into Gaza, including on dual-use items that can be utilized for military purposes.
The statement shared by Senator Sanders highlights how at a time of acute crisis, many well-funded NGOs have nothing meaningful to contribute. At a time when millions of Israelis are confined to their homes, prevented from going to work in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus, Gisha continues to demand an end to Israeli restrictions on dual-use items, bemoaning the effects of Israeli security policy on Palestinian unemployment. Surely, Palestinians facing the prospect of a Corona outbreak would not deem these as their most pressing immediate challenges.
Worse than irrelevant press releases is how Gisha and others have adopted a wildly irresponsible two-pronged approach to the issue of Gaza’s public health capacity in a flailing bid to capture the issue for their own political goals. On the one hand, they blame Israel categorically for any harm that may come to the territory as a result of the global pandemic. On the other, these actors accuse Israel of deliberately weakening Gaza’s health infrastructure.