(Jerusalem) – NGO Monitor today noted the contradictory publications by B’tselem and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), both claiming to provide accurate Palestinian casualty counts during the Gaza War earlier this year. Although publicized as “comprehensive” and “complete” statistics, neither report is credible, and both reflect the underlying political motivations and bias of the organizations, as documented by NGO Monitor. (B’tselem’s funders include the governments of UK, Norway, Switzerland and Ireland and the New Israel Fund; PCHR’s funders include EU and the governments of Norway, Ireland and Denmark)

NGO Monitor highlighted the following:

  • Although both organizations claim to use meticulous research methods, their conclusions differ enormously. PCHR claims 1,167 non-combatants were killed, B’tselem puts the figure at 773.
  • The timing of these publications indicates an attempt to impact the findings of Judge Richard Goldstone’s UN investigation prior to the report’s imminent release.
  • B’tselem adopted controversial International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) guidelines which use a highly disputed and unworkable definition of the standard for those “taking a direct part in hostilities”. This means that people who are closely involved in Hamas’ offensive infrastructure are exempted. Many ICRC legal consultants withdrew support for these guidelines on this basis.
  • Although B’tselem has improved its credibility compared to previous reports, by listing casualties’ affiliations to terrorist factions, these same individuals such as Hamas senior military leader Saeed Sayam are still not classified as combatants.
  • PCHR’s definition of a “non-combatant” is even more problematic, and only includes those holding a weapon at the precise moment of death. Consequently, PCHR classifies known terrorists as civilians, such as Hamas activist Nizar Rayan .
  • PCHR’s consistently hostile agenda towards Israel, including promotion of anti-Israel boycotts, places its’ research in clear contravention of the International Bar Association’s London-Lund Guidelines on fact finding which demand unbiased investigators.

NGO Monitor’s President Prof Gerald Steinberg said, “These two conflicting reports again demonstrate that neither NGO produces accurate information regarding Palestinian casualties. Instead, their publications are the continuation of ideologically motivated campaigns that use human rights as a weapon against Israel. The artificially narrow definition of combatants simply furthers this political agenda.

These publications are further examples of the central role played by political NGOs in the Goldstone “fact finding” inquiry. PCHR and B’tselem have been involved at every step of the process, and if the Goldstone report simply repeats their claims, it will further demonstrate the counterproductive impact of biased NGO in the UN human rights framework.”

Editors Notes:

Other recent publications and reports by NGO Monitor include:-

The Goldstone ‘Fact Finding’ Mission and the Role of Political NGOs – September 7, 2009

The NGO Front in the Gaza War: B’tselem – January 28 2009

The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Debate over Palestinian Casualties – January 27, 2009