Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR)
|In their own words
|“to follow-up and ensure that different Palestinian laws, by-laws and regulations, and the work of various departments, agencies and institutions of the State of Palestine and the Palestine Liberation Organization meet the requirements for safeguarding human rights”
- The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) does not include any financial data on its website, reflecting a complete lack of transparency and accountability.
- Donors include Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. (See table below for further funding information.)
- According to its website, “Since the beginning of 2008, ICHR receives 5% of its budget from the Palestinian Authority (PA).”
- The Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) was established by former PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. While purporting to be an National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) that monitors PA compliance with human rights standards, the ICHR also serves as a vehicle to produce and promote PLO political propaganda.
- ICHR’s first Commissioner General was Hanan Ashrawi, founder of MIFTAH and Chair of its board of directors. According to ICHR’s official website, Ashrawi is an “honorary” member of ICHR’s board of directors.
- In a January 2017 interview for Deutsche Welle, founder and chair of the MIFTAH board of directors Hanan Ashrawi claimed that Palestinian “attacks and their perpetrators are seen by the people as resistance. And you cannot somehow adopt the language of either the international community or the occupier by describing anybody who resists as terrorist (sic).” She further described Wafa Idrees, one of the first female Palestinian suicide bombers, as “the beginning of a string of Palestinian women dedicated to sacrificing their lives for the cause.”
ICHR’S Ties to Terrorism
- ICHR regularly collaborates with and has demonstrated its support for EU, US, Canada and Israel-designated terror groups, such as Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
- In August 2021, ICHR hosted representatives from a number of Palestinian terrorist groups for a panel discussion. These included Hamas’ Khalil Al-Haya, PIJ’s Khader Habib, PFLP’s Kayed al-Ghoul, and Zaki Dababish of the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces (PNIF, an umbrella organization that includes these terror groups).
- In June 2021, the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s Legal Committee and senior Hamas member Muhammed Faraj Al-Ghoul visited ICHR’s office to discuss efforts to encourage an ICC investigation of Israeli officials. Also attending the meeting were the deputy head of Hamas’ parliamentary block, Marwan Abu Ras; the head of Hamas’ Jerusalem Affairs Department, Ahmed Abu Halbiya; and Hamas leaders Muhammed Shihab and Musheer Al-Masri.
- On December 22, 2019, ICHR, PNGO, and Al-Dameer organized a conference on “international accountability mechanisms,” featuring a speech by PFLP Prisoners Committee official ‘Alam Ka’abi. Ka’abi was sentenced to nine life sentences in 2004 for his role in recruiting and sending terrorists to a number of attacks in the early 2000s that resulted in the deaths of several Israeli citizens and injuring dozens.
- In December 2018, ICHR posted pictures from the meeting of several ICHR staff members with the head of Hamas’ Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, to discuss the “prominent human rights violations in the Gaza Strip” and other issues relating to fulfillment of human rights obligations in Gaza. The Hamas insignia was displayed in the meeting.
- In August 2019, ICHR deputy director general and Gaza office director Jamil Sarhan applauded a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, “Palestinian children’s stabbing operations against Israeli occupation soldiers are not considered in any way using children as soldiers…but…an instinctive and improvised action…Congratulations to the Palestinian child who does not accept humiliation and fights with stones, Molotov [cocktails] and knifes [sic] to defend his right of self-determination” (emphasis added).
ICHR Staff’s Concerning Rhetoric
- Numerous ICHR staff members have celebrated convicted terrorists, posted violent images, and made antisemitic comments on social media.
- Issam Aruri
- In March 2021, Aruri, Commissioner General of ICHR’s Board of Directors,· hailed released prisoner Majd Barbar, writing, “Palestine is Fatima [Barbar’s wife] and Majd…In the stacks of failures and stories of corruption and ill management…in all that darkness, Fatima and Majd’s sun shines…a family that resembles an open iris flower that witnessed all the aggressors die, an iris flower that lives only in its embracing environment.”
- According to a September 2016 Nazareth District Court verdict, Majd Barbar, a member of the PFLP, was a “security prisoner serving 20 years in prison for a long array of security offenses, including attempted murder, being a member of a terrorist group, solicitation to commit aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit a crime and [unlawful] carry of a weapon…” According to Al-Jazeera, Barbar and four others were charged with forming a terror cell that smuggled a car bomb into Jerusalem and prepared hand grenades.
- In February 2017, Aruri posted on Facebook, “I am connected to February 22, the day the Democratic Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] was established, great memories. My fighting life began and I was arrested for being a member in it. I congratulate the comrades of the front and the masses of our people on this anniversary, and we wish the struggles of our people will not be neglected…”
- Issam Younis
- In a September 2012 letter, Isaam Younis, then ICHR’S Commission General, wrote, “I have advocated in the past [for] Hamas movement’s right to govern [Gaza]…and I shall continue to do so in the future, utterly protesting the international community’s double standard towards the [Hamas] movement…Hamas movement is a deep seated part of the political system and a national necessity regarding all it has provided and its public consent and active presence. It shall endure and its existence contributes to the interests of us all…This year presented me two opportunities to meet Khaled Mashal, Hamas Movement Head of Political Bureau…I was very happy to meet the man and we heard what was new in the political arena” (emphases added).
- Younis, ICHR’s Commissioner General until July 2021, is also the CEO of Al-Mezan. A number of Al-Mezan officials and employees are members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization 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 September 2020, ICHR Board Member Asem Khalil published a review of “The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank” on his blog. Khalil wrote, “While reading I could not stop recalling and imagining the people of Gaza, as they live in similar conditions. They are sealed from all sides and are targeted at all times…This is not the legacy that Anne Frank tried to promote through her diary.”
- In April 2020, ICHR Deputy Director General and Gaza office Director Jamil Sarhan posted on Facebook,“The fighting activity against the Israeli occupation is an activity that accepts [the reality of] thousands of failed military operations in exchange for hundreds of successful ones, and which causes thousands of [Palestinian] victims in exchange for hundreds of casualties of the Zionist enemy. Without daily and repeated attempts [to execute military operations] and the death of victims we will not have gradual success, until the Palestinian people achieve the inevitable success of freedom and self-determination. Stopping the attempts to strike the enemy and executing military operations, for any reason, is equivalent to a tacit agreement to the continuation and entrenchment of the occupation on our land” (emphasis added).
- In December 2018, ICHR Deputy Commissioner-General Faiha Abdel Hadi posted pictures on Facebook of Shadia Abu Ghazaleh, a PFLP member who died while preparing a bomb for a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in 1968. In her post, Abdel Hadi wrote, “I miss you so much, beloved Shadia. This is the picture of the martyr Shadia Abu Ghazaleh…We have an obligation towards her and towards all our men and women martyrs, to place their pictures in our hearts and in the collective people’s memory…#palestininanmartyrs…#pflp.”
- In December 2017, ICHR Board Member Shawqi Issa posted on Facebook, “A Palestinian throws a rock at a soldier because the soldier stole their land so the ‘Israeli’ soldier is supposed to shoot the Palestinian dead so they don’t get ‘god forbid [rolling eyes emoji]’ hurt by the pebble that might hit their bulletproof vest?…We have the right to be mad, we have the right to fight, we have the right to kick them out…They must go.”
- In November 2023, in the aftermath of the brutal Hamas attack, ICHR was a signatory on a letter to Third States calling to “Recognise Israel’s colonial settlement enterprise as one policy designed to maintain an institutionalised regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people as a whole, and address the root causes of Palestinian dispossession and domination, and the undermining of the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people, inherent in Zionist settler colonialism,” and to “Recognise Israel’s judicial system as part and parcel of Israel’s apartheid regime, and provide full cooperation to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC and the UN ongoing Commission of Inquiry, to ensure justice and accountability.”
- In October 2023, ICHR was a signatory on a letter to ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan to “Issue Arrest Warrants, Investigate Israeli Crimes and Intervene to Deter Incitement to Commit Genocide in Gaza.”
- In May 2023, as a member of PHROC, ICHR was a signatory on a statement “condemn[ing] the calculated and cold-blooded slow-killing of 45-year-old Khader Adnan—father, husband, Palestinian activist, and former prisoner—by the Israeli occupying authorities in the early hours of Tuesday, May 2, 2023. Khader was a reputed, revered, and resilient resistance actor within the Palestinian Prisoners’ Movement…PHROC views the killing of Khader Adnan as a premeditated murder by the state of Israel…”(emphases added).
- In February 2023, ICHR was a signatory on a letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor to “Urgently expedite your investigation into the Situation in Palestine, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
- In December 2022, ICHR published a statement “staunchly support[ing] the UN General Assembly Request for an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Consequences of Israel’s Prolonged Occupation of Palestine.” The statement urged the ICJ to “use this advisory opinion to support the Palestinian people as a whole, who remain under the domination of Israel’s discriminatory laws, policies and practices.”
- In April 2021, ICHR was a signatory on a joint submission to the UN Secretary-General on Intimidation and Reprisals for Cooperation with the UN, stating that “Since its establishment, Israel has created and maintained an institutionalised regime of racial domination and oppression, amounting to apartheid, over the Palestinian people as a whole…Israel has sought to fundamentally undermine key human rights and accountability work and thereby further entrenched impunity for its apartheid regime over Palestinians.”
- In February 2021, ICHR published a policy paper titled “United States Policy on Palestine: 2021 and Beyond” calling for the “US to reevaluate its past blanket support of Israel” and “end the decades long environment of impunity that it has enabled for Israel to entrench its settler colonization and apartheid in the Palestinian territory.” The policy calls to “ban the import of all Israeli settlement products and services” and “End all military aid to Israel.”
- In January 2021, ICHR, alongside a number of Palestinian organizations, issued a declaration that the “Vaccine Roll-Out Exposes Israel’s Inhumane Acts of Apartheid.” ICHR falsely claimed that Israel has “legal obligations” to “ensure that quality vaccines be provided to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and control.” The NGOs altogether ignore that Palestinians residing in Jerusalem are part of the Israeli health care system; that under the Oslo Accords the PA is responsible for health care of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; and that the PA has adopted its own vaccine policy for its population.
- In July 2020, ICHR was a signatory on an urgent appeal to the United Nations referring to Israel’s alleged “shoot-to-kill policy” as “contributing to the maintenance of Israel’s apartheid regime of systematic racial oppression and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, which, embedded in a system of impunity, prevents Palestinians from effectively challenging Israel’s apartheid policies and practices.”
- In October 2019, ICHR was a signatory on a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief stating that the IHRA definition “is currently being used to silence human rights defenders speaking out against government policies of repression in territories under effective military control.”
- The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, adopted by nearly 30 countries and counting, represents the international consensus definition of antisemitism, as well as how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and antisemitism. An example of the latter includes denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
- In May 2019, Palestinian Human Rights Organization Council (PHROC), of which ICHR is an observer member, 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 May 2021, ICHR was a signatory on a statement calling to “Ban arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” “Suspend free-trade agreements with Israel,” and “Ensure that individuals and corporate actors responsible for war crimes/crimes against humanity in the context of Israel’s regime of illegal occupation and apartheid are brought to justice.”
- In September 2020, ICHR called for the UN General Assembly to “Launch international investigations into Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, as well as associated State and individual criminal responsibility,” to “Ban arms trade and military-security cooperation with Israel,” and “Prohibit all trade with illegal Israeli settlements and ensure that companies refrain from and terminate business activities with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.”
- In July 2020, in response to the “Report of the Special Rapporteur addressing Israel’s Collective Punishment Policy,” ICHR called on “Third States to adopt effective measures to put an end to Israel’s illegal and inhumane policies of collective punishment, including sanctions and countermeasures, to bring the illegal situation to an end” (emphasis added).
- In July 2020, ICHR 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 2020, Commissioner General of ICHR’s Board of Directors Issam Aruri wrote on Facebook, “I was hoping that the people will not wait for the government’s decision to prevent the entrance of the occupation’s products, but that our consciences will be the ones that prevent us from buying any of the occupation’s products and make us set them aside until they rot.”
- In February 2019, ICHR 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.”
Funding to ICHR
|SEK 4 million
|SEK 12 million
|Representative Office of Norway to the PA
|NOK 6 million (projected)
|NOK 10.7 million
|€1,400,700 (projected, €963,174 already provided)
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