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Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)

Profile

Country/TerritoryPalestinian Authority
Websitehttp://pchrgaza.org/en/
Founded1995, in Gaza City
In their own words“Dedicated to protecting human rights, promoting the rule of law, and upholding democratic principles in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Funding

Activities

  • Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is a leader in anti-Israel lawfare campaigns, ignores the existence of terrorism against Israeli civilians, and presents a distorted version of the conflict based only on the Palestinian narrative.
  • Regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid” and accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” and the “Judaization of Jerusalem.”
  • Refers to Israeli security measures as “collective punishment” and promotes the “nakba” narrative.
  • PCHR was one of the NGOs that formed the basis of the UN Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry report on the 2014 Gaza conflict, although it lacks the proper evidence and fact-finding methodology to make claims of Israeli wrongdoing.
  • On September 27, 2017, held an international conference titled “The Threshold from Occupation to Annexation: Assessing the Legality of Israel’s 50-year Occupation of Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.” The conference marked “50 years since the establishment of the first Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion and the revelation of Israel’s true intentions regarding the territory it occupied after the Six-Day War of 1967.”
  • On July 25, 2017, PCHR organized a workshop on “Consequences of Former Prisoners’ Salary Suspension on their Economic and Social Rights.” PCHR director Raji Sourani stated that “the decision of suspending former prisoners’ salaries was shocking to the prisoners, their families and all Palestinians as it is illegal, immoral, and violates the Basic Law and the international human rights law.”
  • On April 17, 2017, PCHR, 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 a March 22, 2017 press release, PCHR lauded the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) report on the “Question of Apartheid” that accused Israel of being “guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid,” and “called upon the ICC Public Prosecutor to open an investigation into Israel’s commission of the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people and to bring those responsible into justice.”
  • In March 2017, following the news that Hamas planned to form an administrative committee in Gaza, PCHR called upon the Palestinian President and Hamas Movement to “work together to guarantee the unity of the Palestinian land and confront the Israeli schemes aiming at dismantling and making a Jewish majority in the occupied Palestinian territory.”
  • In December 2016, in response to passage of the Regularization Law, Raji Sourani accused Israel of “ethnically cleansing Palestinian people and imposing new terms of apartheid,” and “when this coincides with the 50th anniversary of a criminal belligerent occupation this is the worst.”
  • In November 2016, PCHR co-authored a submission to Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Palestinian Territories, 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.”
    • Tamimi frequently utilizes antisemitic and violent rhetoric and imagery on social media. In August 2015, Tamimi tweeted, “I do hate Israel, i (sic) wish a thrid Intefada (sic) coming soon and people rais (sic) up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere.”
  • As a member of the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), PCHR 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.
  • In a November 28, 2013 press release, together with Palestinian NGOs Al DameerAl-Mezan and Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), accused Israel of “systematic policies against the civilian population” and “human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces… as a form of collective punishment.”

Terrorism

  • Regularly ignores the existence of terrorism against Israeli civilians, portraying a narrative of Palestinian suffering. PCHR completely ignores the context of terrorism, referring to attacks as having “allegedly” taken place, and condemns Israel for actions taken to protect its civilians. In describing Israeli security measures put in place, including checkpoints and closures of Gaza Strip border crossings, PCHR does not make mention of attacks by terror groups on Israeli civilians.
  • Raji Sourani, founder and director of the PCHR, was “prohibited from leaving Palestine (sic) from 1977 to 1990.” According to a 1995 article in the Washington Report, Raji Sourani served “a three-year sentence [1979-1982] imposed by an Israeli court which convicted him of membership in the illegal Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine…” He was also denied a US entry visa in 2012. Sourani was imprisoned an additional three times “in 1985 and 1986…” and held in administrative detention in 1988. From 1986 to 1987 he was “restricted from legal work for one year by an Israeli military decision issued by the Israeli Military Governor.”
  • In February 2014, the PFLP organized a ceremony in Gaza honoring Sourani for winning the “Alternative Noble Prize.” Rabah Muhana, a member of the PFLP Political Bureau, delivered a speech at the prize ceremony.
  • During the wave of terrorism that began in October 2015, PCHR condemned Israel for “grave crimes” against “Palestinian civilians.” Referring to Israel’s killing of individuals who were in the midst of carrying out attacks against Israeli civilians, PCHR condemned “with the strongest terms the Israeli forces’ disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians.”
  • Throughout the conflict in Gaza in 2014, PCHR regularly condemned the Israeli government and military for its targeting “civilian-populated areas,” not mentioning that Hamas housed rocket launchers in civilian centers exploiting the residents as human shields.
  • Nizar Rayan, a senior Hamas military commander, and members of his family were killed in an IDF airstrike on January 1, 2009 during the offensive. Despite Rayan’s status and the weapons stockpile located at his home, PCHR classified Rayan as a “civilian,” called his death a “heinous crime” and demanded that its “perpetrators and their military and political leaders must be prosecuted.”

Lawfare

  • Is a leader in the anti-Israel “lawfare” movement and has tried to have Israelis arrested in England, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, and New Zealand.  The group has filed for punitive damages against Israeli officials and companies doing business with Israel in the US.  All of PCHR’s cases have been dismissed in the preliminary stages.
  • In July 2016, PCHR lobbied the British government to arrest Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes committed during the 2009 Gaza conflict, calling “upon the countries of the world, particularly Britain, to fulfill their international obligations…to fight the impunity granted for war criminals.” PCHR, along with a London-based law firm, represented the complainants in the case, identified as “victims of Israel’s three-week attack.”
  • PCHR has submitted various documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
    • In December 2017, PCHR, Al Mezan, Al-Haq, and Al-Dameer submitted a communication calling for the Prosecutor at the ICC to “open an investigation into the serious international crimes committed during the July-August 2014 Israeli military offensive.” According to Raji Sourani, PCHR Director, “a genuine criminal investigation and prosecution process for these complaints is being systematically avoided…The consequences are that legal accountability and justice will be deliberately denied the vast majority of victims and survivors—as has been the case following the two previous large-scale Israeli military offensives in Gaza.”
    • On September 20, 2017, 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, 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.” Shawan Jabarin, Al-Haq director, claimed, “The ICC Prosecutor has a golden opportunity to bring an end to the suffering of the entire Palestinian population.”
    • In February 2016, the NGOs “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 to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), claiming evidence and testimonies of alleged Israeli “war crimes” perpetrated during the 2014 Gaza war.
  • On May 14, 2016, PCHR organized the “Malaga Legal Experts Conference,” aimed at “reviewing all efforts relevant to employing the principle of Universal Jurisdiction to prosecute Israeli war criminals and how these efforts relate to action before the ICC.”
  • During the 2014 Gaza war, PCHR, 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.”
  • During the 2014 Gaza War, PCHR, along with B’Tselem and Al-Mezan, was designated by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to provide casualty statistics. These statistics were provided by the Hamas Ministry of Health, and many individuals identified as “civilians” killed during the conflict were actually found to be combatants and members of terror groups.

BDS Activities

  • 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 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).

Partners

  • PCHR holds Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.
  • It is an affiliate of International Commission of Jurists-Geneva, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) – Paris, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network – Copenhagen, the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC) – Stockholm, the World Coalition against the Death Penalty, and the Arab Organization for Human Rights – Cairo.
  • Uses its membership in the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC) as a platform to lobby international forums and disseminate statements demonizing Israel.
  • Works with Al-Haq on issues relating to lawfare.
  • 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, Al-Mezan, Alternative Information Center, ARIJ, Badil, BIMKOM, B’Tselem, CARE International., Defense for Children International – Palestine, Diakonia, EAPPI, Ir Amim, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD), Maan Development Center, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Stop the Wall, ACRI, WCLAC, World Vision, and Yesh Din.

Funding

FunderTotalYear(s)
European Union€411,861  2014-2016
UN OCHA$577,0002014
Ireland€80,0002016
€80,0002015
€80,0002014
€80,0002013
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Norway)$710,0002014-2016
Norway1,000,000 NOK2016
1,000,000 NOK2015
Spain€185,581 2015
Christian Aid (United Kingdom)Not disclosedNot disclosed
Kvina Till Kvina (Sweden)Not disclosedNot disclosed
Al-Quds Association Malaga (Spain)Not disclosedNot disclosed
Grassroots InternationalNot disclosedNot disclosed
Oxfam Novib (the Netherlands)Not disclosedNot disclosed
DanChurchAid (Denmark)Not disclosedNot disclosed
Open Society Foundations (US)Not disclosedNot disclosed
Medical Aid for Palestinians (United Kingdom)Not disclosedNot disclosed
Sida (Swedish)Not disclosedNot disclosed

Archive of Articles about Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)