Yesh Din- Volunteers for Human Rights
|Founded||March 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.”|
- In 2020, total income was NIS 6.9 million; total expenses were NIS 6.2 million.
- Donors include: European Union, United Kingdom, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam Novib (Netherlands).
- Based on information submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, in accordance with the Israeli NGO transparency law, Yesh Din received NIS 43,327,736 from foreign governmental bodies in 2012-2021 (see chart below for detailed funding information).
- According to annual reports, donations from foreign countries comprised 91.1% of total donations in 2017-2019.
- In 2018-2020, Yesh Din received €664,286 from the German government for “Monitoring Expanding Settlement Blocs and their Impact on Palestinian Communities.” The project claims “to document and challenge methods and policies of land takeover and annexation in the West Bank and to support Palestianians [sic] in legal issues, especially land rights.”
- In 2018, Yesh Din received €170,000 from the Netherlands.
- According to the grant agreement, Yesh Din is expected to ensure that the “Issue of impunity of ISFP [Israeli security forces personnel] in cases of offences committed against Palestinians in the West Bank and in Jerusalem remains on international agenda and in discussions between GOI [Government of Israel] and foreign government representatives. Increased international awareness on systemic impact of law enforcement failure for Palestinian communities, forcible home entries and the human rights situation in the West Bank and in Jerusalem (emphases added).
- In 2017-2023, Yesh Din was granted $260,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for general support.
- In 2015-2020, the New Israel Fund (NIF) authorized grants worth $782,126 to Yesh Din.
- 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).
- The activities of Yesh Din are central to promoting the claim that investigative systems and courts in Israel are unable or unwilling to investigate allegations of wrongdoing. This campaign is part of a broader “legal warfare” strategy, of pushing “war crimes” cases at the International Criminal Court (ICC), and using poor information and convoluted statistics to advance political claims.
- According to Emily Schaeffer, then 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.”
- 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. (Read NGO Monitor’s report “Yesh Din’s Fuzzy Math: A Comparative Analysis of Global Crime Statistics.”)
- On May 6, 2016, Yesh Din Legal Adviser Michael Sfard presented Yesh Din’s data on “law enforcement regarding ideologically motivated crime[s]” to the UN Security Council. The representative of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) to the UN tweeted that Sfard claimed that “settlers violence is aimed at coercive demog[raphic] change by evicting Palestinians.”
- In October 2021, Yesh Din was a signatory on a statement condemning the decision by the Israeli Ministry to designate six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. According to the statement, “The Minister of Defense’s designation of prominent Palestinian civil society organizations, among them our colleagues in the Palestinian human rights community, as terrorist organizations, is a draconian measure that criminalizes critical human rights work.”
- Following the designations, Yesh Din Executive Director Lior Amihai tweeted, “Over the years we have worked closely with several of the organizations included in this designation and are proud of our joint efforts.”
- In December 2021, Yesh Din Legal Counsel Michael Sfard participated in a conference held by the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) titled “Supporting Human Rights Defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Reality, Challenges, and Obligations,” stating that “Under Israeli law and under the military law that prevails in the West Bank, the designation of an entity as a terrorist organization is the NGO equivalent of the death penalty. It’s the legal execution” (emphasis added).
- In February 2021, Yesh Din welcomed the decision of the ICC to launch a formal investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the “State of Palestine.” According to Yesh Din, “As an Israeli organization working to defend the human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, particularly with respect to law enforcement, we lament the Israeli policies and practices that have resulted in this preventable low point. At the same time, we are convinced that given Israel’s ongoing failure to investigate suspected breaches of the laws of war and occupation, an international investigation is unavoidable, and, therefore, welcome the decision of the ICC.”
- In July 2020, Yesh Din published a “legal opinion” titled “The Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and the Crime of Apartheid” alleging “that the crime against humanity of apartheid is being committed in the West Bank” by Israel.
- In 2018-2020, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence, and Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I) were implementing partners on an EU grant regarding Israel’s “forcible home entries.” (See more on the grant above.)
- According to the funding appeal, Yesh Din alleged, “…the military justice system grants nearly complete impunity for Israeli security forces personnel and their conduct” regarding “Forcible Home Entries (FHEs)” (emphasis added). The project intended to address these supposed deficiencies by “Appealing decisions to close investigations on a case-by-case basis” and “Filing petitions to High Court of Justice on specific cases and principled matters” (emphases added).
- As part of the project, in November 2020, the three NGOs published a joint report titled “A Life Exposed: Military invasions of Palestinian homes in the West Bank.” The report, which discusses the “practice of raiding Palestinian homes in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem),” falsely claims that “The existence of two legal systems that apply to two separate national groups, as illustrated in this report in the context of the rules governing entry into the private domain, supports the claim that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid in the West Bank” (emphasis added).
- In April 2020, Yesh Din participated in a webinar hosted by Foundation for Middle East Peace titled “COVID-19 and the Settlements.” During the webinar, Yesh Din referred to Israel as an “apartheid regime” and emphasized that there was an Israeli “ideological purpose to take over these [Palestinian] lands and do whatever you need to do to do it.” Yesh Din Executive Director Lior Amihai also claimed, without providing further details, that COVID-19 policies for Israelis are different than those for Palestinians.
- In January 2020, Yesh Din called for the international community to “intervene and take action” in investigating alleged Israeli war crimes as “the State of Israel is unable or unwilling to take resolute action in keeping with its legal duties to eradicate violence and harm to Palestinians and their property. When Israel is heading towards annexation and apartheid, settler violence will not cease.”
- In April 2018, Yesh Din, alongside Emek Shaveh, published a report titled “Appropriating the Past – Israel’s Archaeological Practices in the West Bank” that analyzed “how the State of Israel is trying to use archaeology to prove the historical, religious and cultural affinity of the Jewish people with the West Bank, as yet another means of justifying its ongoing policy of dispossession, occupation and control in the Occupied Territories.”
- In April 2018, Yesh Din, together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Gisha, and Hamoked, petitioned the High Court of Justice demanding that the “Court order the cancellation of open-fire regulations allowing IDF soldiers to fire live ammunition at demonstrators who do not endanger the lives of soldiers on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.” The petition ignores the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel. The Court rejected the petition, stating that the NGOs misrepresented the situation along the border and the applicable international legal framework. The court also found that following the NGOs’ recommended steps would result in more Palestinian casualties.
- According to an article in Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon (January 2018), Murad Jadallah, a field researcher at Yesh Din, tweeted praise for the terrorists Sameer Kuntar, Yihye Ayash, and Hassan Nasrallah, and also shared a photo of himself posing with Salah Hamouri (June 29, 2013) – a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist responsible for planning the assassination of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of Israel.
- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
- On June 14, 2017, Yesh Din, alongside 16 other NGOs, sent a letter to the Attorney General requesting that he “direct the cabinet to immediately rescind its decision” to reduce the electricity supply to Gaza, claiming that it “contravenes Israeli and international law.”
- On February 15, 2017, Yesh Din 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.”
- 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).
- 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.”
- Michael Sfard, Yesh Din’s primary legal counsel and an editor of many of its 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.
- 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 (Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement has since become defunct).
- 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.
- Member of the “Legal Taskforce,” together with other NGOs (including HaMoked, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Addameer, Norwegian Refugee Council), which seeks to “employ lawyers and have legal action strategies in the struggle against the occupation.”
- 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, AIC, ARIJ, Badil, BIMKOM, B’Tselem, CARE Intnl., DCI – Palestine section, Diakonia, EAPPI, Ir Amim, ICAHD, Maan Development Ctr, Medical Aid for Palestinians, Oxfam UK, Oxfam Solidarite – Belgium, PA Govt. Spokesperson, PCHR, RHR, Society of St. Yves, Save the Children UK, Shatil, UNFPA, Stop the Wall, ACRI, UNFPA, and World Vision.
Foreign donations (amounts in NIS)
2018-2021 amounts based on financial reports submitted to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits
|Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)||650,060||920,505||502,230||953,874
|Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) ||53,241||54,387||184,028||132,749
|NGO Development Center||1,206,955||1,456,274||
|European Union ||144,422||424,736||572,028
In November 2017, the EU approved a four-year grant to an Israeli legal NGO, Yesh Din, for a project designed to increase “Israeli security forces personnel (ISFP) accountability for forcible home entries in line with democratic standards and international humanitarian and human rights law.” Yesh Din is carrying out these efforts in partnership with Breaking the Silence and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I).
The Jerusalem Post
October 15, 2013
In The Media
The EU and European governments must openly and honestly explain to the Israeli public and their own taxpayers what motivates funding to highly politicized NGOs.
As part of a wider lawfare strategy of pressing war crimes cases against Israeli officials in foreign courts and in the International Criminal Court (ICC), foreign funded Yesh Din attempts to portray Israel and its security forces as unaccountable to the rule of law.
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