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Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)

Introduction

Under the guise of medical expertise and scientific fact, PHR-I promotes distorted and false narratives, aimed at demonizing and delegitimizing Israel in the international arena.

Profile

Country/TerritoryIsrael
Websitehttp://www.phr.org.il/en/
Founded1988 by Dr. Ruchama Marton
In their own wordsClaims to be “a non-profit, non-governmental organization that strives to promote a more fair and inclusive society in which the right to health is applied equally for all.”

Funding

Activities

  • Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) is not formally affiliated with the U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights.
  • According to its mission statement, PHR-I strives to “put an end” to “Israel’s prolonged occupation over Palestinian territory,” which it views as “the basis of human rights violations.”
  • While using the name “Physicians,” half of the 1,500 claimed members and a number of key staff are not medical professionals.
  • Claims to “stand[] at the forefront of the struggle for human rights” and play a “central role in the struggle of human rights organizations against torture in detention facilities in Israel, particularly against physicians’ participation in the torture of Palestinian detainees by failing to prevent and/or report torture.”

Political Advocacy

  • PHR-I repeatedly argues that the sole impediment to Palestinian development is Israeli policy. According to its mission statement, PHR-I “views the ongoing occupation of the Palestinian Territory as a root cause of multiple human rights violations including the right to health and actively advocates for its end.”
  • PHR-I’s “Occupied Palestinian Territory Department,” which has operated since the organization’s establishment, seeks to take “action against road blocks set inside the occupied Palestinian territory, the separation barrier and other restrictive measures which place physical and bureaucratic barriers between individuals and access to medical care.”
  • In May 2018, PHR-I released a statement during the violence on the Gaza border condemning the “reality in which Israeli security forces shoot unarmed demonstrators,” as well as not providing medical care for those injured in the riots, calling these actions an “outrageously cruel act.” The statement ignored the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel.
  • In September 2017, PHR-I participated in a panel titled “Prisoners’ Health in Israel and Palestine” at Medact’s conference, “Health Through Peace.” The panel, which included Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP) and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), discussed the “various political and social conditions endured by Palestinians” and accused Israel of “breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law.”
  • To mark 50 years since 1967, PHR-I published “Chronicles of Occupation | 50 to 67,” which provided a “historiography of the Israeli occupation” and described “the occupation’s destructive force on the lives of so many.”
  • On February 15, 2017, PHR-I participated in a Knesset conference on 50 Years of Occupation with the message that “Israel must choose between peace with the Palestinians, and the road to apartheid or war.” According to PHR-I founder Ruchama Marton, “We are here to state that we do not possess “the right” to abandon others’ lives. Therefore, we do not want to colaborate [sic] with the laws of the occupation and apartheid.”
  • In December 2016, PHR-I, alongside Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), released a factsheet documenting “limitations on breast cancer care” for Palestinian patients, stating that “The only effective way to remove the obstacles to better care is to end the occupation. As the 50th anniversary of the occupation approaches in 2017, governments like the UK must redouble their effort to bring it to an end. This is not only a moral responsibility for the international community; it is a vital and direct way to save lives and improve the quality of life for all Palestinians, none more so than those suffering ill-health and disease.”
  • In January 2015, PHR-I published “Gaza, 2014: Findings of an Independent medical fact-finding mission,” alleging Israeli violations of human rights and international legal norms during the 2014 Gaza War. PHR-I also set up a special website to accompany the report. Al-MezanGaza Community Mental Health Programme, and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) are listed as having provided “Fieldwork and research coordination” for the report.
    • The report provides no proof or evidence for the serious charges contained within it. The report contains fundamental methodological flaws, ignores Hamas violations, and relies on “experts” that have demonstrated anti-Israel biases.
  • In October 2015, during a wave of violence against Israeli civilians, PHR-I, along with other politicized NGOs in Israel, called upon Israel to end its policy of “extrajudicial killings” and “collective punishment.” The group criticized Israeli policy and actions of self-defense, without even noting the intensification of attacks against Israelis.
  • Issued a June 2013 joint statement with other politicized NGOs Adalah and Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), in light of “UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture,” alleging that “Impunity and a lack of accountability continue to characterise the relationship of Israel’s security services with civilians” and maintaining ongoing “torture-related policies and practices against Palestinian prisoners and detainees.”
  • An October 2011 publication “Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim,” co-authored by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), accused Israeli doctors and institutions of involvement in the “torture and ill-treatment” of Palestinians. Many of the claims were based on unverifiable allegations. The Israel Medical Association denounced the highly selective publication for erasing important details. Based on faulty methodology, the PHR-I asserted that Israeli security officers “routinely employ interrogation methods which amount to torture and ill-treatment” and that “medical professionals are frequently involved either actively or passively in torture or ill-treatment.” Lexical or legal definitions for “torture” and “ill-treatment” are not provided and used inconsistently. Detailed analysis of the sweeping claims demonstrates deeply flawed research – the evidence consists of unverifiable claims by the detainees themselves and not assessments conducted by medically trained observers; some of the suspects were later convicted on terror charges. These basic flaws notwithstanding, the report threatens the Israeli medical community with prosecution in international forums, warning that medical personnel “may find themselves responsible for aiding and abetting the crime of torture.”
  • In 2009, PHR-I’s highly biased political agenda led the Israel Medical Association to halt cooperative activities, and elicited the condemnations of Dr. Yoram Blachar, president of the World Medical Association, who called PHR-I “a radical political group disguised as a medical organization.”
  • PHR-I provided unfounded allegations to the infamous Goldstone report, accusing Israel of war crimes during the 2008-9 Gaza conflict.
  • In February 2003, placed an advertisement in the Ha’aretz newspaper declaring that the “organization will only work with doctors who resist the occupation.”

Staff

Foreign donations (amounts in NIS)

2015-2016 amounts based on NGO annual reports; 2017-2018 amounts based on financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits

Donor2018201720162015
Bread for the World -EED(Germany)*1,102,717571,000662,000
Norway218,000437,000
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands)**131,555603,000301,000
Diakonia (Sweden)76,935201,823285,000309,000
HEKS-EPER (Switzerland)94,300287,000295,000
Medico International(Germany)179,000210,000
Christian Aid (UK) 160,000170,000
Caritas (France)133,000135,000
Medico International(Switzerland)40,00079,000
UNHCR135,240386,010562,000383,000
UNDP98,607279,000153,000
Germany132,253
Switzerland148,738191,000
Sigrid Rausing Trust398,000455,000

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

**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.

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