On August 12, 2008, Amnesty International released a statement headlined “Trapped – collective punishment in Gaza.” This is one of numerous misleading Amnesty statements focusing on this contentious and highly politicized issue, including a July 4 “briefing.” The deficiencies in this report include:

Evidence and Credibility: The evidence presented is entirely unverifiable and un-sourced. Numbers and percentages are included without the citation of independent verifiable references. The opening quote from an anonymous Gaza resident is meant to provide authenticity to the “facts” and figures that follow. The lack of credibility is further highlighted by the failure to include any mention of the daily transfer of truckloads of basic supplies from Israel, or of reports regarding the confiscation of basic goods by the Hamas leadership. In the allegations regarding students, the claims are distorted (see below) and lack sources, suggesting that Amnesty simply copied them from reports by other NGOs, which also lack credibility.

Context of terrorism: The context of terrorism from Hamas-controlled Gaza is almost entirely erased. When this key dimension is mentioned in a single sentence, Amnesty immorally equates Palestinian terror attacks targeting Israeli civilians with justifiable Israeli responses aimed at ending these attacks (Amnesty’s casualty comparison fails to distinguish between Israeli civilian deaths and Palestinians involved in the attacks.) The demand that Israel “immediately lift the blockade” also entirely ignores Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

Exploitation of international humanitarian legal terms: As NGO Monitor has demonstrated, Amnesty and other NGOs grossly misrepresent international humanitarian law by labeling the Gaza blockade “collective punishment.”

Selective use of data: Amnesty refers to “students who have scholarships in universities abroad are likewise trapped in Gaza, denied the opportunity to build a future” as one of the consequences of Israel’s “collective punishment.” This is a very selective and distorted version that erases many of the facts, including the US government decision to deny visas to the students following security checks. Amnesty also refers to “the ceasefire holding…” without documenting continuing attacks, including on the day before the update, August 11, 2008, when Palestinians in Gaza fired rockets at Sderot.

Distinct focus on Israel: Egypt, which denies passage through its border crossing with Gaza, remains unmentioned in the update. Similarly, Amnesty’s stated reason for issuing an update, “Gaza has fallen off the international news agenda,” while war crimes are likely being committed in the Russia-Georgia conflict, indicates a relentless and disproportionate focus on Israeli “violations.”

For additional sources, see: