Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
For more information on PCHR’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
|Founded||1995, 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.”|
- Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) donors include: European Union, Ireland, Spain, France (Consulate General), Open Society Institute, Christian Aid (UK), DanChurchAid (Denmark), Grassroots International, Kvinna Till Kvinna (Sweden), Trocaire (Ireland), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Misereor (Germany), and the United Nations (OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UN Women). (See table below for further funding information.)
- In 2018-2021, PCHR received €320,187 from the European Union for “Promoting improved respect, protection and fulfilment of the right to the highest attainable standard of health in the Gaza Strip.”
- In 2020, PCHR received CHF 289,586 from Switzerland.
- In 2019, PCHR received €80,625 from Ireland (Irish Aid).
- In 2021, PCHR received $194,255 from the UN OCHA occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund for “Advocacy, monitoring and documentation of HR and IHL violations and related trends in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.”
- 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.
- In January 2020, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), of which PCHR is a member, vehemently opposed a new clause in European Union grant contracts with Palestinian NGOs that prohibits grantees from working with and funding organizations and individuals designated on the EU’s terror lists. According to media reports, PNGO claimed that Palestinian terrorist organizations are “political parties.”
PCHR’s Ties to the PFLP
- On June 27, 2015, the PFLP’s prisoner committee participated in a workshop organized by PCHR. The event was held “in solidarity” with Khader Adnan, a member and “leader” of the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, during his two-month long hunger strike. During the event, PFLP prisoner committee member Hani Mezher called on PCHR to “exert a double effort to make urgent contacts with all institutions and raise the issue of prisoners with the international community and the free world so we can save his life.”
- For more information on PCHR’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”
PCHR Staff with Ties to the PFLP
- Raji Sourani
- 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 ceremony Sourani stated that “I was in the ranks of the Popular Front, and there were comrades who taught us with their own hands. This organization has given us much more. We hope that the direction and the sense of belonging that were planted inside us will remain in our minds. We don’t apologize and don’t regret our past, we are proud that once we were members of this organization and we fought in its ranks” (emphasis added).
- Jaber Wishah
- In 1985, Wishah, PCHR Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors until 2017, served as “the head of the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza.” A September 1999 article in Arabic language media similarly states that he was responsible for the PFLP’s military apparatus.
- Wishah was convicted by Israel of “holding a leading position in a terrorist organization of which he was a member, intentionally attempting to kill an Israeli Staff Sergeant in Gaza, configuring a bomb and planting a bomb, possession of fire arms and conspiring to commit murder.”
- Bassam al-Aqraa
- Aqraa served as the head of PCHR’s “Training Unit” until his death in February 2018.
- In February 2018, the PFLP posted an article on its website “People hold a house of condolence for the late Bassam al-Aqra in Cairo,” referring to him as a “companion of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” The PFLP held public mourning events in his honor and called on its supporters to participate in his funeral.
- Anwar Matar
- According to Arabic language media, Matar, PCHR’s administrative assistant, appears to have been active in the PFLP in the late 1980s and was arrested several times by Israel.
- Khalil Shahin
- Shahin, PCHR’s Head of Economic and Social Rights Unit until 2019, spoke at a 2013 seminar organized by the PFLP.
- 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.
- PCHR also promotes the biased conclusions and recommendations of the UN Goldstone Report. Provided 75 minutes of testimony to the mission, and was quoted 50 times in the document.
- In February 2022, PCHR defended a report published by Amnesty International accusing Israel of apartheid. According to PCHR Director Raji Sourani, “Israel has failed to silence our voices and delegitimize us. What we said more than 20 years ago is now repeated by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem. We do not stand alone anymore, and these international voices echo ours. The Israeli Apartheid’s mask fell off, and a new stage of struggle has started at the international level to take down the apartheid and end all its crimes against the Palestinian civilians.”
- In October 2021, PCHR published a press release condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to PCHR, “it is an obvious ploy to silence and end these leading organizations, who expose the occupation’s crimes, aim to prosecute them before international justice, and support Palestinian people’s resilience. PCHR warns that the Israeli decision is an attempt to provide legal coverage to persecuting these organizations, targeting their personnel, and liquidating them.”
- In April 2021, PCHR 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, PCHR was a signatory on 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, PCHR, alongside a number of Palestinian organizations, issued a declaration that the “Vaccine Roll-Out Exposes Israel’s Inhumane Acts of Apartheid.” PCHR 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, PCHR 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, PCHR Economic and Social Rights researcher Dr. Fadel al-Muzaini participated in a conference titled “Israel’s Collective Punishment in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt): Escalated Measures, Impacts, Legal and Advocacy Frameworks,” calling for “the international community to act immediately and assiduously to oblige Israel to adhere to international law and to end its practice of collective punishment.” The conference also discussed “collective punishment and settlement expansion activities that intend to uproot and displace Palestinians from their homeland and to weaken their resilience, by rigging their history and their cultural legacy.”
- The conference also featured Amnesty International, Al-Haq, Addameer, Al Mezan, as well as the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt Michael Lynk.
- On May 18, 2019, PCHR 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 April 2019, Sourani spoke before the Committee on Exercise of Inalienable Rights of Palestinian People (CEIRPP) stating that the “ethnic cleansing and the efforts to create a Jewish Majority by the Israeli forces in the holy city of Jerusalem aim at imposing the de facto policy, in practice and law, reaching its final stages.”
- 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.”
- 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 a November 28, 2013 press release, together with Palestinian NGOs Al Dameer, Al-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.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- PCHR 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.”
- According to its 2019 annual report, “PCHR has worked restlessly for more than 11 years to reach the ICC, this work was intensified in the past 5 years after the Public Prosecutor announced opening a preliminary investigation [into Israel] in January 2015. Starting in 2020, PCHR will employ all its resources and energy in this trajectory, which will require us to coordinate on multiple levels” (emphasis added).
- According to PCHR, it “has employed all its legal capacities and international networks and played a leading role within its work with the ICC…. Building legal files for the international judiciary; holding meetings with experts and coordinating with partners to the cases that will be presented before the international judiciary; Contacting with the ICC Prosecutor’s Office; providing legal information and submissions for the international litigation mechanisms; Enabling victims and witnesses to appear before international litigation mechanisms; and following up cases before national courts in accordance with international jurisdiction.”
- PCHR has submitted various documents to the International Criminal Court (ICC). According to PCHR, in December 2019, “Lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)… delivered [a] speechat the annual General Assembly.” During his speech, Sourani addressed Bensouda: “we were very consistent in working with the ICC and your office, and we cooperated fully in providing full facts needed in this regard…we were able to bring you tens of witnesses over video conferences…Palestinian human rights organizations provided really significant material to your office.”
- In March 2020, PCHR submitted two amicus briefs to the International Criminal Court.
- Alongside Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and Al-Dameer, PCHR submitted an amicus brief “welcom[ing[ and support[ing] the findings of the Prosecutor that 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.”
- PCHR submitted a second amicus brief “on behalf of hundreds of Palestinian individual victims residing in the Gaza Strip…. who have suffered direct harm as a result of grave crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.”
- 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.
- In March 2020, PCHR submitted two amicus briefs to the International Criminal Court.
- 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.
- In August 2021, PCHR signed a letter to the States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty calling to “put an end to Israel’s notorious use of arms and military equipment…by immediately imposing a comprehensive two-way arms embargo on Israel.” According to the letter, “This systematic brutality, perpetrated throughout the past seven decades of Israel’s colonialism, apartheid, pro-longed illegal belligerent occupation, persecution, and closure, is only possible because of the complicity of some governments and corporations around the world.”
- In May 2021, PCHR 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 July 2020, in response to the “Report of the Special Rapporteur addressing Israel’s Collective Punishment Policy,” PCHR 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 May 2020, PCHR 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 2018-2019, PCHR lobbied intensively in support of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel. PCHR has signed multiple letters to the UN calling for the database to be implemented without further delay.
- In February 2020, following the announcement of President Trump’s “Peace Plan,” PCHR sent a joint written submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council stating that it “entrenches Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people,” and States “must prevent the crime of apartheid and punish its perpetrators, not recognise the illegal situation nor render aid or assistance in its maintenance, and adopt collective measures to bring the illegal situation to an end.”
- In November 2019, PHROC, of which PCHR is a member, signed a statement calling for the “international community to immediately impose sanctions on the State of Israel and illegal Israeli settlements” and “implement domestic legislation to prohibit and criminalize the import of illegal settlement goods and services into their territory.”
- In May 2019, PCHR was a signatory on a statement calling on the German Bundestag to revoke its joint resolution defining BDS campaigns against Israel as antisemitic.
- In May 2019, PCHR called on the “European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime.”
- 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 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).
- 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.
|European Union||€320,187 for a project with PMRS||2018-2020|
|€411,861 for a project with Oxfam Novib||2014-2016|
|Christian Aid Ireland||€70,000||2018|
|Municipality of San Sebastián||€68,921||2014-2016|
|Al Quds Association||€80,000||2016|
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