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Military Court Watch (MCW)

Profile

Country/TerritoryPalestinian Authority
Websitehttp://www.militarycourtwatch.org/
In their own words A “voluntary association established by a group of lawyers and other professionals who share a belief in the rule of law.”

Funding

  • Military Court Watch (MCW) does not release financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • Sigrid Rausing Trust has granted £30,000 to MCW in 2017-2018. (According to Sigrid Rausing Trust, MCW is located in Afghanistan.)
  • Until mid-2016, the MCW website stated that MCW is “fiscally sponsored by Dalia Association, a registered non-profit organization whose mission is to mobilize and properly utilize resources necessary to empower a vibrant, independent and accountable civil society in the region. Donations to MCW are handled by Dalia Association and are tax deductible in most jurisdictions…”

Activities

  • The founders of MWC originally “decided not to establish an NGO as we do not intend that our professional association will continue beyond our limited objectives… If and when [our] recommendations are implemented, MCW will dissolve.”
  • Claims that its work “is guided by a basic principle that children detained by the Israeli military authorities are entitled to all the rights and protections guaranteed under international law… In accordance with these principles, MCW advocates, and where appropriate, litigates, to ensure that all children that come in contact with the military legal system are treated with equality and in accordance with the law.”
  • According to its website, “In order to assess to what extent children are being denied their legitimate legal rights, MCW monitors their treatment from the moment of arrest until final release. This process involves the collection of testimonies from affected children and their families, as well as assessing developments within the military legal system.”

Political Advocacy

  • According to its website, “As part of MCW’s monitoring programme approximately 150 testimonies are collected each year from children detained by the military authorities… In addition to this body of evidence, MCW collects testimonies from parents to assess the impact of the military legal system on the child, the family and the community as a whole.” These testimonies, however, are anonymous, unverifiable, and lack credibility.
  • MCW also “reproduces” testimonies by members of Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence (BtS). As documented extensively in a number of NGO Monitor reports, BtS similarly makes sweeping accusations based on anecdotal, anonymous, and unverifiable accounts of low-level soldiers. These “testimonies” similarly lack context, are politically biased, and erase the complicated reality in the West Bank, in an effort to advance the political and ideological agenda of BtS activists, and contributing to the international delegitimization of Israel.
  • While MCW relies on unsubstantiated data and exploits the language of international law, it is often quoted as fact by international diplomats and policy makers, thereby contributing to the demonization and isolation of Israel. For example, MCW’s allegations were quoted in an EU document, “Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in Israel Progress in 2014 and recommendations for actions.” Official Israeli sources were not consulted.
  • MCW regularly cites reports and publications issued by other highly biased and politicized NGOs including B’TselemDefence for Children International- PalestineAdalahPhysicians for Human Rights- IsraelAl MezanWho ProfitsHamokedPublic Committee Against Torture in Israel, and Yesh Din. A number of these NGOs are highly active in demonization, BDS and “lawfare” campaigns against the State of Israel, and regularly promote the Palestinian narrative of victimization and sole Israeli responsibility.
  • Many of MCW’s publications suffer from multiple methodological and legal flaws. Its October 2017 “Briefing Note” repeats the testimonies of Palestinian minors without verification, with claims that lack factual basis.
  • Relies on its unverifiable testimonies, along with information from politicized NGOs, to make submissions to a variety of UN forums.
  • An April 2015 MCW document alleged that arrests of Palestinian children were “In order to guarantee the protection of nearly 400,000 Israeli civilians living in over 200 illegal West Bank settlements…. In other words, the military detention of Palestinians is an essential element in ensuring the viability of the settlement project” (emphasis added). MCW disregards the circumstances that lead to such arrests, such as terror activity and violence.
  • In November 2013, MCW, alongside other Palestinian NGOs, provided information for a complaint by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) against security company G4S, claiming it has “breached the obligation to respect human rights of those affected by their activities.”  In June 2014, the UK National Contact Point (NCP) of the OECD1 agreed to further examine some of the concerns, and in 2015 it published a statement in favor of the company saying, “The UK NCP does not find any general failure by the company to respect the human rights of the people on whose behalf the complaint is made or any failure to respect human rights in regard to its own operations.

Staff

  • Many members of MCW’s advisory board have a history of ideological bias:
  • Gerard Horton
  • Raja Shehadeh
    • Shehadeh is a founder of Al-Haq, a leader of anti-Israel “lawfare” campaigns.
    • On March 20, 2017, spoke at SOAS on “Is Israel afraid of peace? Reflections on the failures of international law and human rights, and on sources of hope.” Shehadeh spoke about how it “is almost 50 years since the Six-Day War. The end of those hostilities witnessed the Israeli occupation of former Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza, and the displacement of 300,000 Palestinian citizens. After half a century of devastating regional conflicts a resolution to the situation appears no closer.”
    • In a 2012 interview with the ICRC, Shehadeh stated that “the occupation is of a colonial nature. Its aim ultimately is to encourage – certainly not by using force – the Palestinians to leave and to be replaced by Israeli settlers.” He furthered that a structure was introduced to “resolve the problem of how to apply Israeli laws to one part of the population and not to the other, and how to discriminate in an official, ‘legal’ manner between the two groups of inhabitants living on the same territory. This was how apartheid was introduced to the OPT.”
    • According to Shehadeh, “we cannot speak about the occupation without speaking about the settlements and the fact that people do not see Israel only as an occupier that controls certain aspects of their lives, but as a colonizer that is after their land. It feels like a cancerous growth that is eating up their body and making normal life impossible in every way.”
    • In Shehadeh’s book, Occupation Diaries, he states that “There can be no justification, on security or any other pretext, for such a wall.”
  • Sam Bahour
    • Sam Bahour is a policy advisor at Al-Shabaka.
    • In a March 2015 Ha’aretz op-ed promoted on Al-Shabaka’s website, Sam Bahour, writing in his capacity as an Al-Shabaka policy adviser, called on Palestinians to work to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state and implement a “one-state” framework: “If Palestinians redefine their self-determination away from statehood and toward civil rights, the game is over – even if the struggle for full civil rights lasts another 50 years. One day, Jewish Israelis and Jews around the world could find themselves gazing at the erstwhile ‘Jewish State’ and admiring (in spite of themselves) Israel’s new, grand, pluralistic incarnation….”
  • Diala Shamas
    • Shamas is a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.
    • On November 29, 2017, on the occasion of the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” Shamas wrote an article calling on all “who stand with the Palestinian people to call and write to Congress members to urge them to contact the Israeli embassy and to let them know that the demolition of Susiya, and other efforts to expel Palestinians from their lands under false security and planning justifications, will not be tolerated.”
  • Juman Nijim

Footnotes

  1. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an economic organization comprised of 34 countries (mainly in Western Europe and North America, plus Chile, Israel, Turkey, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand). The National Contact Point (NCP) in each country promotes the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The NCP decides on issues pertaining to the guidelines, including complaints lodged against companies.

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