Al Mezan is highly active in anti-Israel lawfare campaigns, exploiting courts and international legal bodies to seek arrest warrants against Israeli government officials, file lawsuits against companies and governments doing business with Israel, and lobby for cases against Israelis at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
A number of Al-Mezan officials and employees are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas, terrorist organizations designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. For more information on Al-Mezan’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Al Mezan Center For Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
|In their own words||Stated mission: “to promote respect and protection for all human rights; particularly ESCR [Economic, Social, Cultural Rights], in the Gaza Strip as part of OPT throughout research, legal intervention, advocacy and awareness”|
- Al Mezan does not publish on its website its annual income or funding amounts, reflecting a lack of transparency.
- Al Mezan donors include the European Union, Netherlands, Diakonia, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and Medico International (Germany). (See table below for further funding information.)
- In 2017-2020, Al Mezan received €449,997 from the European Union via EIDHR for “Strengthening monitoring, protection and Rehabilitation of Civilians Victimized by, or at risk of, human rights and IHL Violations in Gaza with Relation to Access Restricted Area and Torture.”
- In 2018-2020, Al-Mezan was part of a $7.2 million “Human Rights Fund Programme” funded by Sweden via the NGO Development Center (NDC). Neither the NDC nor the Swedish government website provides the names of the NGO partners or the amounts received.
- In 2019, Al Mezan received $244,756 from the UN OCHA occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund for “Monitoring and documentation of IHL and IHRL violations in the Gaza Strip.”
- In 2018, Al Mezan was an implementing partner for a project through the Norwegian Refugee Council for “Promoting and Protecting Women’s Housing, Land and Property Rights in The Gaza Strip.” Other implementing partners include Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Gisha, HaMoked, and the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR).
- In 2014-2017, Al Mezan received a core funding grant of $641,700 (2014-2017) from the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (a joint funding mechanism of Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands that closed in December 2017).
- AMAN – the coalition for integrity and accountability, of which Al Mezan is a member, received €961,028 (2013-2017) from the Representative Office in Ramallah (Netherlands). (See below for further information on the Aman Coalition.)
- Al Mezan participates in “CRG-Palestine,” a project (2015-2018) funded by Norway (NOK 4.4 million) that focuses on “the monitoring of child rights including improving state capacity to monitor and report to the UN Committe on the Rights of the Child.” The project is implemented with six other partners including Ma’an News Agency and Defense for Children International-Palestine.
- According to its website, Al Mezan “envision[s] a Palestinian free, sovereign society where all women, men and children enjoy the benefits of social justice, human rights, the merit of the rule of law and good governance fully and equally.”
- Consistently refers to the Israeli army as the Israel Occupation Forces (IOF), delegitimizing Israeli self-defense, and erases the context of Palestinian terror, Hamas’ use of human shields, and illegal rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Al Mezan’s Ties to Terrorism
- On January 30, 2020, Al-Mezan CEO Issam Younis led a meeting hosted by the Independent Commission for Human Rights(ICHR) concerning Palestinian reconciliation. The meeting included representatives from several terror groups, such as senior Hamas official and spokesperson of the Hamas government Taher Al-Nunu and then-leader of the PFLP in Gaza Rabah Muhanna.
- On April 6, 2015, Al-Mezan organized a conference on the International Criminal Court (ICC), featuring speakers from terrorist groupsincluding senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya and Islamic Jihad political bureau member Khaled Al-Batash.
- On November 21, 2013, Al-Mezan organized the “Transitional Justice in Palestine” conference, featuring Hamas Legislative Council member Yahya Al-Abadseh, Islamic Jihad official Khaled Al-Batash, and PFLP Central Committee member Kayed Al-Ghoul.
- For more information on Al-Mezan’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Al Mezan Center For Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
Al Mezan Staff Ties to Terrorism
- A number of Al-Mezan board members, officials, and employees appear to have direct affiliations with Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organizations.
- Nafiz Al-Madhoun, member of the Al-Mezan Board, serves as Director General of the Hamas–controlled Palestinian Legislative Council. A number of Arabic-language sources have referred to Al-Madhoun as a Hamas leader, or the head of Hamas’ parliamentary bloc in Gaza. Palestinian government sources have also noted his co-hosting of a September 2011 event for Gaza security personnel with Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri.
- In April 2019, Kamal El-Sharafi, Chairman of Al Mezan’s Board, participated in the memorial service for prominent PFLP figure Ali Darwish. The official PFLP website labels Darwish a “comrade, national leader and historical fighter,” who according to the PFLP, had been arrested by Israel and incarcerated 3 times, for a total of 20 years.
- On February 24, 2019, El-Sharafi paid condolencesupon the death of a prominent PFLP figure, Maher Al-Yamani, who helped plan the hijacking of an Israeli plane in Greece in 1968 and served as the associate secretary of PFLP founder George Habash.
- On October 13, 2018, El- Sharafi participated in a memorial service for the PFLP’s Rafat Al-Najjar (“Abu Uthman”). The PFLP described Najjar as “one of the pioneers who took up arms through his membership in the first military apparatus of the PFLPin the Gaza Strip, and was one of the first fighters in the front and revolution who lived the experience of detention… and repeated arrests… A role model.” Sharafi also wrote a short obituary, “To you the solace and the glory… you will remain an eternal national symbol.”
- Jamil Sarhan, Al Mezan Treasurer, is part of the Democratic Union of Lawyers and Jurists, which the PFLP defines as a “PFLP union framework.”
- An August 2009 Palestinian Information Center article refers to Sarhan as a “member of the central committee of the PFLP.”
- Sarhan regularly shares PFLP posts and press releases on his personal Facebook page. On December 9, 2017, Sarhan shared a post concerning a PFLP rally in Gaza, which said; “first pictures of the PFLP march today, More than 100 thousand participants anger for Jerusalem. The blood is coming from Gaza.”
- In August 2016, Samir Zaqut, Director of Al Mezan’s Monitoring, Awareness and Documentation Unit, spoke at a rally in support of Bilal Kaid, a PFLP member, who was sentenced in 2002 to 14.5 years in prison by Israel for perpetrating and planning terrorist attacks.
- In October 2014, the official PFLP website referred to Zaqut as a “comrade” and detailed his participation in a PFLP-organized event, in solidarity with PFLP secretary general Ahmad Saadat and PFLP terrorist George Abdullah, who was convicted for his role in the 1982 murders of Israeli diplomat Yaakov Barsimantov and US Military Attaché Charles R. Ray.
- In May 2017, Hussein Hammad, North Gaza District Officer and Delegate to the Mobilization and Technical Assistance Unit, received an awardfrom a PFLP branch in honor of his receiving his M.A. According to the PFLP website, Abdullah Mheisan, joined “the PFLP at the beginning of the First Intifada and played a fundamental role in the uprising by resisting the occupation in all forms, and participated in many military operations that hurt the enemy, believing that armed struggle against the Zionist enemy is the shortest way to achieve victory.”
- In December 2018, Wa’el Mohammad Ahmad, Al Mezan’s accountant, posted a picture of himself with a PFLP flag, adding: “The revolution is strong as steel… red as embers… steadfast as an oak… deep as our brutal love for the nation” – Che Guevara. Happy anniversary to my brothers and comrades, long live our resistance and we will remain in the pledge of the martyrs.”
- Regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid,” accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes,” promotes the “nakba” narrative and refers to Israeli security measures as “collective punishment.”
- In March 2020, Al Mezan, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) published a report titled “Chronic Impunity: Gaza’s Health Sector Under Repeated Attack.” The report dealt with 2018 protests along the Israel-Gaza border, yet ignored and whitewashed the context of Hamas terrorism, repeated assaults on Israeli civilian communities, and attempts to sabotage the border fence and infiltrate into Israel to commit violence.
- The report also refers to Sajed Mizher, a 17-year-old Palestinian killed by the Israeli security forces, as a “first aid volunteer.” The NGOs neglect to mention that Mizher was a “comrade“ of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine(PFLP), a terrorist organization designated as such by the U.S., EU, Canada, and Israel. Mizher’s funeral procession featured many individuals wearing military gear, PFLP paraphernalia, and PFLP banners. Mizher’s body was also adorned in PFLP paraphernalia. (For more details, see NGO Monitor’s blog “Palestinian NGO Medic Killed in Bethlehem Clashes Had Ties to PFLP Terror Group.”)
- On May 18, 2019, Al Mezan was a signatory on a statement referring to all of Jerusalem as “occupied,” and called for the UN to “take a firm stand against…unlawful unilateral measures to be taken by the U.S. in favor of an unveiled attempt at legitimizing Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, occupation and colonization.” The statement further called to “Ban Israeli settlement products” and “Impose individual sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on individuals that are identified as responsible for or complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
- In March 2019, Al Mezan published a statement to mark the one year anniversary of the violence on the Gaza border accusing Israel of “serious violations of international law in their response to the Palestinian protests, including by applying lethal and other excessive and unnecessary force.” Al Mezan ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
- On April 17, 2017, Al Mezan, as a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), released a statement on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day stating that “This year marks 50 years of torture of Palestinian political prisoners through a military system which has historically been endemic and various forms of physical and psychological torture and ill-treatment,” and calling on the International Criminal Court to “open an investigation into the case of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and bring those who have tortured, extrajudicially executed, forcibly transferred, and arbitrary (sic) detained Palestinians to be held to accountable.”
- In March 2017, Al Mezan and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) held a side event at the UNHRC titled “Health Under Occupation,” placing blame on Israel for Palestinian health issues and entirely ignoring Hamas diversion of medical aid and the effects of intra-Palestinian infighting on the health sector in Gaza.
- In November 2016, Al Mezan co-authored a submission to UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories Michael Lynk on “Human Rights Defenders in the OPT…highlight[ing] the repressive environment within which human rights defenders (HRDs) work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The submission referred to Manal Tamimi, a fieldworker for the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), as a “human rights defender.”
- In June 2015, Al-Mezan, alongside Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), released “No More Impunity: Gaza’s Health Sector Under Attack.” The publication was characterized by one-sided accounts, a total lack of verifiable sources, and lack of context. In addition, Al-Mezan and its partners erased the terror affiliation of three “paramedics” and “medical volunteers” who were killed in an Israeli strike.
- Al Mezan’s highly unreliable statistics on civilian casualties and building demolitions were cited in the discredited Goldstone report, as well as the UNHRC Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza war. Al Mezan’s director has also “testified” before UN committees, “especially [about] the willful killing of civilians committed by the IOF [sic].” Al Mezan, together with a number of other highly biased and politicized NGOs also issued a statement repeating the Goldstone report’s highly inflammatory conclusions and called on states to “re-evaluate their relationship with Israel” because “normal relations [could] not be conducted with it.”
- During the 2014 Gaza War, Al Mezan was designated by UN-OCHA to provide casualty statistics. These statistics originated with the Hamas Ministry of Health, and many individuals identified by Al-Mezan and others as “civilians” killed during the conflict were actually found to be combatants and members of terror groups.
- In January 2015, Al Mezan is listed as having provided “Fieldwork and research coordination” for a report by Physicians for Human Rights -Israel titled “Gaza, 2014: Findings of an Independent medical fact-finding mission,” alleging Israeli violations of human rights and international legal norms during the 2014 Gaza War.
- The report provides no proof or evidence for the serious charges contained within it. The report contains fundamental methodological flaws, ignores Hamas violations, and relies on “experts” that have demonstrated anti-Israel biases.
- As a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), Al Mezan referred to the resignation of William Schabas as the head of the UN inquiry into the 2014 Gaza war as a “charade put up by Israel” and “condemn[ed] in the strongest terms Israel’s latest and unfortunately far too common attempt to obstruct the work of the international human rights and justice mechanisms in investigating Israeli violations of international law against the Palestinian population.” In fact, the resignation followed revelations that Schabas had previously done legal work for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) – a clear conflict of interest that would have disqualified him from the beginning if it had been disclosed. Furthermore, Schabas’ record of anti-Israel biases includes repeated calls for prosecuting Israeli officials for alleged “war crimes” at the International Criminal Court.
- Highly active in anti-Israel lawfare campaigns, exploiting courts and international legal bodies to seek arrest warrants against Israeli government officials, file lawsuits against companies and governments doing business with Israel, and lobby for cases against Israelis at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- In 2009, Al Mezan partnered with Al Haq in an attempt to secure an arrest warrant against Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in the UK for “war crimes” allegedly committed during the 2009 Gaza War.
- At a June 2017 CEIRPP conference, “United Nations Forum to Mark Fifty Years of Occupation,” Al Mezan International Advocacy Coordinator Nuriya Oswald remarked, “Al Mezan cooperates with the office of the prosecutor at the international criminal court and we also coordinate and work with the UN. We have cases in third states in Europe and we do exhaust all of the legal avenues available to us to achieve accountability and justice for Palestinians.”
- Conducts “legal training” courses emphasizing “the important role of lawyers in achieving justice and the need for lawyers to be knowledgeable in international humanitarian law and human rights law in order to be able to confront the flagrant violations committed in the context of the Israeli occupation.”
- Al Mezan has submitted various documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- In March 2020, alongside Al-Haq, Al-Dameer, and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al-Mezan submitted an amicus brief “welcom[ing[ and support[ing] the findings of the Prosecutorthat there is a reasonable basis to believe that international crimes have been committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, comprising the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.”
- In December 2017, Al Mezan, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Haq, and Al-Dameer submitted a document to the Prosecutor of the ICC examining “Israel’s inability and unwillingness to conduct effective investigations ” and called for “investigation into the serious international crimes committed during the July-August 2014 Israeli military offensive.”
- On September 20, 2017, these NGOs submitted a “substantive communication” to the Prosecutor of the ICC alleging that “high-level Israeli civilian and military officials have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem.”
- On November 22, 2016, the four NGOs delivered a submission to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, “Requesting Investigation and Prosecution of The Illegal Closure of the Gaza Strip.”
- In February 2016, the NGOs claim to have “provided evidence of the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity” and concluded that “high-ranking Israeli military and civilian officials committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during Operation Protective Edge.”
- On November 23, 2015, the four NGOs submitted a document claiming evidence and testimonies of alleged Israeli “war crimes” perpetrated during the 2014 Gaza war.
Allegations of ‘war crimes’
- Utilizes highly biased and politicized rhetoric accusing Israel of “massacres,” “slaughtering civilians,” “scandalous war crimes,” and “despicable disregard to civilian life.”
- During the 2014 Gaza war, Al Mezan, together with the other members of PHROC, submitted a letter to the EU accusing Israel of “blatant violations of international law,” “indiscriminately and disproportionally killing Palestinian civilians,” and “evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.” The letter urges the EU “to resort to all operational measures at its disposal with a view of bringing Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law to an end.”
- As a member of the PHROC, submitted a July 16, 2014 “Open Letter to UN Secretary-General on Hostilities in the Gaza Strip,” accusing Israel of “collective punishment,” “ongoing indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against Palestinian civilians and civilian objects in the Gaza Strip” and “intentionally target[ing] Palestinian civilians and homes.”
- In a November 28, 2013 press release, together with Palestinian NGOs Al-Dameer, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al-Mezan accused Israel of “systematic policies against the civilian population” and “human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces… as a form of collective punishment.
- Al Mezan has lobbied intensively in support of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel. Al Mezan has published numerous statements and letters to the UN calling to “make public the database of businesses illegally operating in and profiting from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around occupied East Jerusalem” (emphases added).
- In May 2020, Al-Mezan was a signatory on a statement calling for “Immediate targeted sanctions to stop Israel’s annexation and apartheid.” The statement further called for “A ban on arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” “Suspension of trade and cooperation agreements with Israel,” and “Investigation and prosecution of individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid.”
- In February 2019, Al Mezan was a signatory on a letter to the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund calling to refrain from investing money in “Israel’s unlawful settlement enterprise.” According to the letter, “corporations may be complicit in aiding and abetting the destruction of property and forcible displacement of the Palestinian population, amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
- In February 2017, as a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), released a statement calling upon “the international community to abide by their international obligations” and “act immediately by imposing sanctions against Israel,” as a result of the passing of the “Regularization Law,” which is “another brazen tool for Israel to confiscate privately held and registered Palestinian property for its illegal settlement enterprise.”
- In October 2016, hosted a panel at the European Parliament on “ensuring accountability for violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian Territories and on the UN database of businesses operating in Israeli settlements.” According to Al Mezan, the “panel was held in the context of nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation of Palestine, a situation of international armed conflict, where violations of the applicable international humanitarian law and international human rights law are met with impunity by Israel, the Occupying Power.”
- In August 2016, submitted a joint complaint to the UN Special Rapporteur concerning review of the residency status of Omar Barghouti, a prominent proponent of BDS. The statement falsely describes BDS as “peacefully pursu[ing] a human rights agenda based on an international law framework”; in fact, BDS are tactics of political warfare, based on the exploitation of human rights double standards, comparisons to apartheid South Africa, and false accusations of “war crimes.”
- In February 2016, issued a joint statement that “For decades, Israel has failed to uphold its duties as Occupying Power and has instead deepened its occupation and regime of colonialism and apartheid” and “affirm[ed] the right of all individuals to participate in and advocate for boycott, divestment, and sanction actions, and calls on states and businesses to uphold their related legal responsibilities” and stated that the EU November 2015 labeling move against Israeli settlement products is “insufficient,” calling for a complete ban (emphasis added).
- Signed (together with Addameer, Badil, Palestinian Center for Democracy & Conflict Resolution, and Union of Agriculture Work Committees [UAWC]) on a Joint Call to Action: July 2014 – Month against the Apartheid Wall stating: “….it is time for a ‘legal intifada’, an intensified popular struggle and more boycotts, divestment and sanctions….We ask you to expand and deepen the global BDS movement for justice…”
- Signatory to the 2005 “Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS,” which calls for an end to Israel’s “occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” and promotes the right of “Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.” These goals undermine the fundamental right of the Jewish people to self-determination and would effectually mean the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.
- Al Mezan holds UN ECOSOC consultative status and is a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), the World Organization Against Torture, as well as a number of other organizations; utilizes these platforms to promote and disseminate demonizing statements against Israel.
- Al Mezan is member of the UNOCHA Protection Cluster’s Legal Task Force which coordinates legal responses by 14 Palestinian, Israeli, and international NGOs.
- Member of the “Displacement Work Group,” an initiative of Badil and OCHA to “monitor human rights violations (evictions, home demolitions, land confiscations) resulting in the displacement of people from their lands and communities,” along with: Addameer, Al-Haq, AIC, ARIJ, Badil, B’Tselem, BIMKOM, CARE Intnl., DCI – Palestine section, Diakonia, EAPPI, Ir Amim, ICAHD, Maan Development Ctr, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, PA Govt. Spokesperson, PCHR, RHR, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Shatil, UNFPA, Stop the Wall, ACRI, UNFPA, WCLAC, World Vision, and Yesh Din.
- Al Mezan is a “Coalition Member” of the Aman Coalition.
- Al Mezan is a member of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). The FIDH, which is funded by multiple European governments, is a major leader of BDS campaigns worldwide. The group, composed of 178 member organizations, supported campaigns including the BDS campaign against Orange (2015), promoted the EU product labeling guidelines, and participated in the NGO campaign at the UN Human Rights Council to establish a Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel following the 2014 Gaza War.
2014-2020 Funding to Al Mezan
|Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat||$641,700||2014-2017|
|Save the Children Norway||NOK 1,165,269||2018|
|American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)||N/A||2016|
|Medical Aid for Palestinians||$10,000||2019|