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Yesh Din- Volunteers for Human Rights

Profile

Country/TerritoryIsrael
Websitewww.yesh-din.org
FoundedMarch 2005, by members of Machsom Watch
In their own words“to oppose the continuing violation of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory... documenting and disseminating accurate and up-to-date information about the systematic violation of human rights in the OPT, by raising public awareness of such violations, and by applying public and legal pressures on government agencies to end them.”

Funding

Activities

  • Yesh Din regularly petitions the High Court of Justice to alter Israeli policy (for example, to cancel the law prohibiting the transportation of Palestinians in Israeli vehicles within the West Bank and to gain access to military court records).
  • Engages in advocacy campaigns, such as briefings to foreign diplomats and encouraging Palestinians to claim compensation for seized land.
  • Publishes statistics and findings related to what it calls “ideologically-motivated crimes” against Palestinians, as well as what it claims is a lack of Israeli law enforcement in the West Bank. According to NGO Monitor research, these oft-cited statistics are misleading and misrepresentative when taken in context.
    • Yesh Din’s categorizations are not used by Israel or other jurisdictions around the world, thus making it impossible to properly evaluate the claims and compare the rates to other areas.
  • On May 6, 2016, Yesh Din Legal Adviser Michael Sfard presented these data to a meeting on the sidelines of the UN Security Council to discuss “the protection of the Palestinian people.” The representative of the International Federation for Human Rights to the UN reported that Sfard claimed that “settlers violence is aimed at coercive demog[raphic] change by evicting Palestinians.”
  • During the 2014 Gaza War, Yesh Din was one of a number of NGOs that condemned Israel for possible “violations of international humanitarian law.” Yesh Din was one signatory on a letter to Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein accusing Israel of violating international law.
  • Yesh Din was among the organizations that formed the basis of the UN Human Rights Council report on the 2014 Gaza War (“Schabas-Davis report), although it lacks the proper evidence and fact-finding methodology to make claims of Israeli wrongdoing.
  • In 2013, the organization published a report calling for Israeli legislation to codify “war crimes” in Israeli law. The organization did not specify that the report was “commissioned” by the EU. However, in its reporting of 2011 grants, the EU described a grant of €150,000 from 2011-2013 in order to “change Israeli policy vis- a- vis criminal accountability of Israeli Security Forces Personnel in the occupied Palestinian Territories, in such a way that acknowledges and takes into account the severity and the different nature of War Crimes, as distinguished from regular, domestic crimes.”
    • Yesh Din’s report was part of a wider “lawfare” strategy of pressing “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials in foreign courts and in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
  • The IDF responded to a Yesh Din report in 2008, claiming that it was flawed due to “an inaccurate interpretation of data, problematic research methods which include relying on anonymous questioned people…use of a partial database, partial or defected understanding of certain legal aspects with regard to military court activities, lack of appropriate familiarity with the criminal law in the Judea and Samaria areas and with the procedures of administrative detention.”
  • After the 2008-2009 Gaza War, seven Israeli NGOs including Yesh Din submitted a joint report to the Goldstone Commission claiming that “Israel’s failure to conduct an independent investigation of the totality of events, there is also a systemic-intrinsic flaw in the investigation of concrete events.” According to the NGOs, this “failure to investigate instances in which civilians were wounded or killed has led to a sense of impunity and immunity from sanctions among soldiers and commanders.”
  • In its submission to the Turkel Commission on the Gaza Flotilla (April 2011), Yesh Din claims that “Israel fails to meet its duty to investigate complaints of violations of justice by soldiers.” Yesh Din also alleges a “weakness of the rule of law in the West Bank,” and criticizes the enforcement of Israeli court decisions and police investigations into settler violence. ).
  • According to Emily Schaeffer, a lawyer on Yesh Din’s legal team, “Yesh Din was founded to use law as a tool to fight the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
  • Michael Sfard, Yesh Din’s primary legal counsel and an editor of many of the NGO’s reports, claims, “If war crimes are committed and an apartheid system is being deployed under our eyes, it is the moral duty of a citizen of the country responsible, to combat this, even if it means using external legal means.”

Michael Sfard

  • Michael Sfard, Yesh Din’s primary legal counsel and an editor of many of the NGO’s reports, claims, “If war crimes are committed and an apartheid system is being deployed under our eyes, it is the moral duty of a citizen of the country responsible, to combat this, even if it means using external legal means.”
  • In 2015, Sfard testified as an expert witness for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). In the case, Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization, victims of terror and their family members sought damages due to alleged PLO attacks that occurred between 2001 and 2004.
    • In 2010, Sfard provided paid testimony on behalf of the PLO (Saperstein v. Palestinian Authority).
  • Together with his associate Emily Schaeffer, Sfard authored a European Union-funded report “No Home, No Homeland” (2011), on behalf of radical Israeli organization the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
  • Sfard has also represented the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement and the Human Rights Defenders Fund, both funded by foreign governments.
  • Sfard worked with Al-Haq, a leading anti-Israel “lawfare” NGO funded by European governments, on a lawsuit filed in Canada seeking a judicial declaration of Israel’s guilt in committing “war crimes” and deeming the security barrier illegal.
    • The case was dismissed with partial costs (September 18, 2009).
    • In February 2013, Sfard represented the “victims” in a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee against the government of Canada, alleging that Canada violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) when its courts ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the case.

Foreign donations (amounts in NIS)

2013-2014 amounts based on NGO annual reports; 2015-2016 amounts based on financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits

Donor20172016201520142013
Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)437,413483,677602,638731,334763,509
Britain 690,1891,045,2051,139,1711,816,040
Norway 403,462483,4251,026,000
Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) 319,720564,838353,091490,614
Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands) 156,700293,015
CAFOD156,550136,800 143,400
European Union 129,57883,145945,445456,220
Germany465,508
Ireland 363,942425,700428,330
Belgium
HEKS-EPER (Switzerland)77,52584,505
Holland 29,700
Oxfam (UK) 1,036,875
UNDP 78,330
United Kingdom690,189
NOVA (Spain)85,765

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