JERUSALEM – In conjunction with the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) claiming a human rights mandate immorally equated Shalit’s situation with that of more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorists and convicted murderers. Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, president of human rights watchdog NGO Monitor, welcomed Shalit’s release while noting that this episode further exposes the moral bankruptcy of international human rights mechanisms.

“Throughout the five years of Shalit’s captivity in Gaza, during which every human rights obligation was blatantly violated, NGOs failed to implement consistent, sustained campaigns to secure his release,” Steinberg stated. “Over the last week, these same NGOs, many of whom receive hundreds of thousands of Euros annually from the EU and European governments, welcomed the release of mass murderers responsible for the deaths of more than 550 Israelis.”

NGO Monitor notes that the mass release of terrorists tried and convicted according to due process of law highlights the continued erosion of international legal principles. Instead of serving their time for these convictions, Hamas has extorted their release based on extreme duress and compulsion, adding to the incentives for similar actions in the future.

“Organizations dedicated to human rights have an obligation to condemn such immoral extortion,” says Steinberg. “International human rights mechanisms such as the UN Human Rights Council, and its leader Navi Pillay, failed to unequivocally condemn this action. European government funding for false flag human rights NGOs needs independent review.”

Examples of NGO statements:

  • Amnesty International stated, “This deal will bring relief to Gilad Shalit and his family after an ordeal that has lasted more than five years. Many Palestinian families will feel a similar sense of relief today when they are reunited with their relatives, many of whom have spent decades under harsh conditions in Israeli detention.”
  • HRW used most of its statement to attack Israel’s policy in Gaza and immorally equate Shalit’s captivity to convicted Palestinian criminals: “The prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas should mark the beginning of an era in which all parties respect basic rights,”
  • Al Haq and Addameer referred to “political prisoners” and stated that “the exchange deal should be a cause for celebration, notably for the 1,028 concerned families.” Regarding prisoners who were released outside the West Bank and Gaza, they claimed, “Unlawful deportation or transfer also constitutes a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV) and qualifies as one of the most serious war crimes.”
  • Gisha wrote, “We join in…of course the relief felt by the Shalit family and the families of the prisoners who will be released.”
  • Adalah, Al Mezan, and Arab Association for Human Rights “consider the release of 1,027 Palestinian and Arab prisoners from Israeli prisons a positive step.”
  • Shawan Jabarin of Al Haq, an alleged senior activist in the PFLP terror group, claimed that “This transfer and deportation of protected persons goes against the Geneva Conventions…This latest deportation is just another step in Israel’s policy to drive Palestinians out…[The Israeli] philosophy behind that is that if you live outside, you won’t come back and you will take your family with you.”
  • Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) released a statement entitled “Closure of Gaza Must Be Lifted as Shalit’s Pretext Diminished.”

“Shalit’s ordeal is emblematic of an NGO network that cherry picks which human rights issues deserve its attention based on biased political and ideological agendas,” adds Steinberg. “This practice makes a mockery of moral claims, international law and justice. Releasing more than 1,000 terrorists and murderers may be a necessary evil. But it remains an evil. Unfortunately, human rights NGOs have refused to speak out against this.”

NGO Monitor also noted that no NGO released a statement condemning the cruel and offensive Egyptian TV interview Shalit was forced to give while still being held against his will and under duress.

“Apparently hundreds of NGOs that claim to care about human rights see nothing wrong with Gilad Shalit being treated in this shocking and humiliating manner while still in captivity.” Steinberg added. “Their silence during that episode, as in the past five years, was deafening.”

NGO Monitor’s full report on NGO statements regarding the release of Gilad Shalit.