Founded1989 by “a group of prominent academics, attorneys, journalists, and Knesset members,” largely from the Meretz and Labor Parties.
In their own words“acts primarily to change Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories and ensure that its government, which rules the Occupied Territories, protects the human rights of residents there and complies with its obligations under international law.”



  • Actively pursues its political agenda in the Israeli courts and the Knesset.
  • B’Tselem’s publications reflect its political agenda – “dissent” and opposition to Israeli policy. Under the leadership of Hagai El-Ad, beginning May 2014, dissent was prioritized claiming, “little room is left among the Israeli public to allow for criticism of government policy.”
  • In October 2016, Hagai Elad appeared before a special session of the UN Security Council initiated by Egypt, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Angola, asking the UN to take “decisive international action” against Israel. In his presentation, Elad made no mention of Palestinian terror attacks or incitement.

Apartheid Rhetoric

Political Activities


  • In April 2021, B’Tselem welcomed the decision of the ICC to launch a formal investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the “State of Palestine.” According to B’Tselem, “This is a long-awaited and a critically important step towards ensuring the rule of law and ending impunity, while ensuring accountability for Israel’s crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.”
  • On April 13, 2020, B’Tselem participated in a webinar on “Israel-Palestine at the International Criminal Court,” featuring speakers from Human Rights Watch (HRW), Al-Haq, and Center for Constitutional Rights(CCR).The webinar advanced the NGOs’ long-standing campaign to pressure the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation of Israelis over alleged war crimes.
  • In March 2020, B’Tselem stated that “The ICC can – and must – investigate the situation in Palestine.” According to an email, “Israel may finally have to start considering the price for its crimes against the Palestinians. We hope the court will make the right decision to back the Prosecutor’s position and rule: there is jurisdiction, and there will be an investigation.” B’Tselem also published  a press release and position paper that accused Israel of using the Holocaust to justify its policies vis-a-via the Palestinians, “the very values that the ICC is meant to safeguard – the values that the world has been trying to promote since the end of World War II, in response to the unspeakable atrocities committed during that dark chapter in history. With shameless cynicism, Israel is trying to use these very horrors to justify continued oppression, land grab and killings at its own hands.”
  • In a January 2020 Ha’aretz op-ed, Hagai Elad alleged that the Israeli legal system “works to ensure impunity for Israeli security forces who kill, abuse or torture them [Palestinians]” and claiming that “For Palestinians, quite literally, the International Criminal Court is their court of last resort” (emphasis added).

Supporting 2009 and 2014 UN Investigations

  • B’Tselem contributed to the campaign for a United Nations investigation into Israel regarding the 2014 Gaza War, stating that “Israel’s law enforcement system, in its present form, cannot investigate alleged violations of international law by Israel in its recent operation in Gaza.” B’Tselem called for an investigation “[i]nvolving independent international observers.”
    • Following the release of the UN Commission of Inquiry report (“Schabas/Davis”), B’Tselem criticized Israel for “whitewash[ing] suspected wrongdoings” and blamed “senior government and military officials” for “lethal policy.” NGO Monitor’s review shows that B’Tselem was the most referenced NGO in the report, with 69 citations.
  • B’Tselem, which campaigned for an “independent and credible investigation” of the 2009 Gaza War, “provided assistance to the investigative staff of the Goldstone mission from the beginning to the end of its research.” Following the publication on September 15, 2009, which referenced B’Tselem more than 56 times, B’Tselem continued supporting Goldstone and lobbying the governments of the United States, the European Union, and others to legitimize the report’s extreme biases and endorse its recommendations.

Lack of Verifiable Sources Regarding Fighting in Gaza 2012-2014

  • B’Tselem played a central role in allegations regarding civilian casualties during the 2014 war in Gaza. B’Tselem presented “initial” and “preliminary” data, which were inherently unverifiable and based solely on information from Palestinian sources in Hamas-controlled Gaza. As the Israeli member of the UNOCHA NGO “Protection Cluster,” B’Tselem provided the appearance of credulity to the casualty claims disseminated by UNRWA/OCHA officials and repeated widely by journalists, political leaders, and others.
  • On September 20, 2016, B’Tselem published a report titled, “Whitewash Protocol: The So-Called Investigation of Operation Protective Edge,” arguing that the IDF investigations are illegitimate because “there has been no investigation of policy issues, including the policy of targeting inhabited homes, which resulted in the Israeli military killing hundreds of people….” On this basis, they argue that in the IDF, “there is no accountability [], only whitewashing.”
    • As documented by NGO Monitor, B’Tselem’s arguments in this report were fundamentally flawed and not fact-based nor legally-based.
  • Two years after the 2014 Gaza war, B’Tselem published what it claimed was “data [] based on a meticulous, exhaustive investigation” into the identities of over 2,200 reported Palestinian fatalities during that conflict, and the circumstances of their deaths. B’Tselem states that the number of fatalities “casts doubt on Israel’s claim that all the targets were legitimate and that the military adhered to the principle of proportionality during the attacks and took precautions to reduce harm to civilians.” B’Tselem, however, presented faulty information on civilian casualties in alleged attacks against “families bombed at home,” such as misleadingly portraying a number of combatants as innocent civilians.
  • On January 28, 2015, published a report, “Black Flag: The legal and moral implication of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip,” falsely alleging that there was a “black flag of illegality flying over” Israeli military tactics during the 2014 Gaza War. The report was an expansion of a highly inflammatory infographic during the war on “Families bombed at home, Gaza, July-August 2014. ”As extensively documented by NGO Monitor, the report and corresponding infographic were not based on facts, evidence, or serious legal analysis


  • In March 2019, B’Tselem hired Simone Zimmerman to lead the group’s US political operations. Zimmerman is a co-founder of IfNotNow (INN), a US-based fringe group using highly polarizing tactics in attacking American Jewish institutions citing supposed “support for occupation.”
    • Zimmerman also briefly served as “national Jewish outreach coordinator” for US Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. She was dismissed as a result of profanity-laced social media posts, accusing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of sanctioning “the murder of over 2,000 people” during the 2014 Gaza War.
  • On November 2, 2017, International Advocacy Officer Sarit Michaeli implied that Israel is to blame for sexual abuse of children in Gaza. Commenting on a Ha’aretz article in which a Palestinian psychologist claimed that “more than a third of the children I saw in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza told me that they had been sexually abused,” Michaeli tweeted, “Two million people locked in a big prison for a decade, and they freak out. Who would believe it?”
  • On January 8, 2016, Israeli investigative news program “Uvda” featured an expose showing B’Tselem employee Nasser Nawaja and Ezra Nawi, a radical activist from the NGO “Ta’ayush,” discussing informing the Palestinian Authority security services about a Palestinian man who allegedly intended to sell land to Jews in the West Bank. The sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death under Palestinian law, and according to Nawi, suspects are tortured and then killed.
  • In 2014, journalist Tuvia Tenenbom published a book, “Catch the Jew,” in which he recounts a conversation with B’Tselem “researcher” Atef Abu a-Rub, who accused Germany of “giving money to the Jews” and then referred to the Holocaust as “a lie.”
  • Former CEO Jessica Montell has said: “I think the word apartheid is useful for mobilizing people because of its emotional power. In some cases, the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa.”
  • In April 2010, staff member and NGO activist Lizi Sagie resigned after the organization came under pressure for statements made on her personal blog, including: “The IDF Memorial Day is a pornographic circus of glorifying grief and silencing voices,” “Israel is committing Humanity’s worst atrocities…Israel is proving its devotion to Nazi values…Israel exploits the Holocaust to reap international benefits.”


Foreign donations based on financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non Profits (amounts in NIS)

2016-2019 amounts based on NGO annual financial reports; 2020-2021 amounts based on quarterly financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits.

Bread for the World (Germany)**999,657815,092822,843913,124
DanChurch Aid215,844156,627167,286170,214
Norway 542,849198,771307,988341,224
Diakonia (Sweden)171,077137,020
NGO Development Center (NDC)1,681,4032,632,0582,243,5681,117,288
European Union357,823233,314363,949592,121
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands)*1,444,756
Catholic Relief Services (US)217,600227,816373,033334,244
AECID (Spain)19,64439,57019,926
Christian Aid240,009409,249272,710330,952
ACPP (Spain)74,88819,03514,401
Sigrid Rausing Trust698,1751,394,835
Open Society Foundation485,183544,800
Church of Scotland17,62514,372

*Until 2014, NDC managed the pooled finances of Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands through its Human Rights/Good Governance program; In 2014, NDC was replaced by NIRAS and Birzeit University, which are managing the government funding under the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat.

** On August 30, 2012, Brot für die Welt merged with the Church Development Service (Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst-EED) and formed “Brot für die Welt – Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst” (Bread for the World – Protestant Church Development Service), as part of the new Protestant Agency for Diakonia and Development (Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung).

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