In July 2016, the UK House of Lords Library posted a briefing paper: “Living Conditions, Health and Wellbeing of Palestinian Children,” which was “withdrawn” without explanation on July 19, but is available on unofficial websites. The authors present a narrative of Palestinian suffering as a result of Israeli security policies, without examining the means available to protect Israeli civilians from Gaza-launched rocket barrages and terrorist attacks. In addition, the role that Palestinian violence, corruption, and mismanagement contribute to the wellbeing of Palestinian children is ignored, as is the widespread exploitation of children (child soldiers) for attacks against Israelis.
This narrative reflects an ongoing, multiyear political campaign in which political advocacy NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are central participants. The objective is to demonize Israel by alleging abuse of Palestinian children.
The withdrawn House of Lords library note promoting this agenda is a prime example, relying heavily on publications from UN agencies and media platforms that largely cite NGOs to make their claims. These NGOs are highly politicized and biased, lack credibility, and suffer from basic and documented methodological flaws.
For example, the note repeats the entirely unverified allegation of Defence for Children International- Palestine Section (DCI-PS) that “detained children were subject to physical violence” and “interrogators used position abuse, threats, and isolation to coerce confessions.”
Similarly, a BBC article (1 September 2014) quoted in the report echoes claims regarding child casualties, referencing the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), B’Tselem, and Amnesty International. These NGOs had no means of verifying these statements. Similarly, the report on similar issues compiled by a group of British lawyers is based on unverified allegations from B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Hamoked, Addameer, Defense for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-PS), the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), and No Legal Frontiers.
These and others organizations that provided data for the publications cited by in the library note, as well as many other reports on this topic, have repeatedly been shown to be unreliable. These organizations include Human Rights Watch, Norwegian Refugee Council, PalThink, Gisha, Save the Children, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Medical Aid for Palestinians, and Military Court Watch.
As documented in detail by NGO Monitor, these organizations advance politicized agendas, at the expense of best practices in fact checking and research methodology, and do not represent credible sources of information. The NGOs are active partners in the campaigns to apply political, economic and legal pressure on Israel through demonization. Some promote anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions) tactics, while other employ “lawfare” strategies designed to bring Israeli officials before international courts. The attempts to demonize Israel through false allegations regarding children is particular egregious.
We urge all bodies, including the Library of the House of Lords, to employ valid methodologies in the evaluation of alleged human rights violations, regardless of the specific area or conflict zone. Documents that rely on UN documents and media publications that aggregate data taken from biased NGOs are not credible and are readily manipulated for objectives that are inconsistent with the moral principles of universal human rights.