Immediately after this event, Amnesty issued a press release condemning what it termed “the extrajudicial execution” of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. It stated: “Once again Israel has chosen to violate international law instead of using alternative lawful means. Sheikh Yassin could have been arrested and prosecuted.” Amnesty’s very narrow and unrealistic interpretation of international law failed to take into account the likely loss of both Israeli and Palestinian lives in the event of such a military operation in the Gaza Strip. While calling on Israel to put an end to its “policy of assassinations”, Amnesty also demanded that “Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups …immediately stop targeting Israeli civilians in indiscriminate suicide bombings and other attacks.”
In sharp contrast, Hanan Ashrawi’s Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) continued its exploitation of human rights norms in order to demonize Israel. Ignoring Yassin’s vows to destroy Israel,
MIFTAH cynically condemned “Israel’s cold blooded murder” as a “calculated measure aimed at a quadriplegic wheelchair-bound elderly man” and “an assault on all Palestinians”. Similarly, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which ignored the violation of the human rights of Palestinian children, condemned Israel’s “illegal and excessive use of force” in a press release issued on 22 March which termed the killing of Yassin as “an act of state terrorism”. PCHR, whose political agenda was analyzed in the NGO Monitor (Palestinian Affiliates of ICJ (Vol. 1, No.6)) receives funding from sources that include the Ford Foundation, NOVIB Holland, Open Society Fund, USA, Christian Aid, UK, CAW Social Justice Fund, Canada, Dan Church Aid, Denmark, Grassroots International, USA (covered in NGO Monitor #3), the European Commission, the Royal Danish Representative Office, Representative Office of Norway and Ireland Aid. In both press statements, MIFTAH and PCHR repeat the standard PLO demand for “international intervention”, while ignoring Palestinian responsibility for the ongoing terrorism that continues to destroy the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, which is funded primarily by the European Union, also highlighted the death of Yassin with links on its website to the statement from Amnesty International as well as one from the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), which joined “the members of its network and other partner NGOs in Palestine – notably Al-Haq, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG)” in condemning the Israeli action against Yassin. EMHRN did not offer links to any statements regarding the use of Palestinian children for acts of terror and violence.
In summary, the reactions of these human rights NGOs to these events demonstrates the continuing failure to address gross violations of human rights committed by Palestinians against their own people. Palestinian NGOs, including those supported by Europe, focused on condemning Israeli actions against the leader of a terrorist organization, and remained silent on the exploitation of Palestinian children for terrorism. This behavior further highlights the systematic erosion of human rights norms in the pursuit of the anti-Israel political agendas of these NGOs.