Release Date: April 30th 2008

NGO Monitor Reveals Human Rights Watch’s Exclusive Condemnation of Israel over ‘Collective Punishment’

(Jerusalem) – Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor this week released its report on the 2007 activities of Human Rights Watch (HRW). The report provides a detailed analysis of HRW’s publications and statements in 2007, revealing that, while there is some improvement from 2006, there remains a clear, identifiable political bias in both the quality and quantity of HRW’s coverage of Israel.

The report notes in particular HRW’s repeated allegation that Israel is inflicting “collective punishment” on the inhabitants of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. As legal experts have stated, the use of such terminology in this context has no basis in international law.

More tellingly, only Israel has been charged with this ‘crime’ by HRW for implementing such a blockade.  As the report notes, HRW does not apply this term to any other similar situation.  Russia’s 1999 policy of denying power, water food or any humanitarian supplies to Chechnya – a far more widespread action than Israel’s towards Gaza – was condemned by HRW but was not referred to as collective punishment.  Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s blockade of Armenia in 1994 was actually supported by HRW on the grounds that Armenia was “financing” a war.  In contrast, HRW condemns Israel as guilty of “collective punishment”, despite the Hamas regime’s continued rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians.  These attacks, while condemned by HRW, are repeatedly referred to as “retaliatory”, with Israel implicitly culpable for the violence on both sides.

NGO Monitor’s report also reveals the continued lack of balance in HRW’s reporting, with quantitative analysis showing that the focus on Israel is far greater compared to the attention given to the Palestinians.  This is particularly revealing in a year that saw Hamas’s violent takeover of Gaza, and widespread Palestinian factional fighting which led to scores of Palestinian deaths, including those of many non-combatants.

Commenting on the release of the report on HRW’s 2007 activities, NGO Monitor’s Executive Director, Professor Gerald Steinberg said, “This report shows, yet again, that any claim of even-handedness by Human Rights Watch is hollow.  Their exclusive condemnation of Israeli ‘collective punishment’ is discriminatory, and should end immediately.  HRW’s continued disproportionate focus on Israel is not only an injustice, but it also allows some of the worst human rights abusers in the Middle East, countries like Syria and Libya, to escape serious scrutiny.

“HRW has a responsibility to end their bias against one particular state and to act with genuine objectivity and a consistent standard.  Until they do so, they will continue to undermine their own stated agenda of promoting the universality of human rights.”

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Editors Notes:

Please click here to view the full NGO Monitor report on HRW’s 2007 activities or see the link below:

NGO Monitor was founded to promote transparency, critical analysis and debate on the political role of human rights organizations.  For more information, see our website at

Other recent publications and reports by NGO Monitor include:-

Analyzing the NGO Campaign on Gaza – Beyond the Rhetoric – Jan 22, 2008

Human Rights Watch’s Cluster Munitions Report: Under the Façade – Feb 17, 2008

Durban 2009 Update: European Responses on NGO Funding – April 16, 2008

NGO Monitor’s Executive Director is, Prof. Gerald Steinberg.  

For further information, comment or interviews, contact Dan Kosky

+972 (0) 546-305-504  

NGO Monitor – 13 Tel Hai St. – Jerusalem 92107 –   Israel – T: +972-2-566-1020 F: +972-2-5619112