Analysis of Statements by Political NGOs on Gaza Crisis - November 2012
The following statements have been made by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) since the killing of acting Hamas military chief of staff Ahmed Jabari on November 14, 2012 and the massive barrage of missiles into Israel. None of these groups condemned the rocket attacks from Gaza – each one a war crime – targeting Israeli civilians, which had intensified in the week before and triggered the Israeli response.
Updated November 22, 2012
Table of Contents
Joint NGO Statements
Alternative Information Center (AIC)
Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA)
Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ)
Human Rights Watch
Independent Jewish Voices
International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)
Reporters Without Borders (RWB)
Save the Children
United Civilians for Peace (ICCO, Cordaid, Oxfam-NOVIB, IKV Pax Christi)
War on Want
World Council of Churches (WCC)
Excerpts from NGO statements:
♦ AIC/CWP/Yesh Gvul/New Profile, “No to the Elections War!,” appeared as advertisement in Ha’aretz, November 16, 2012
“No to the Elections War! We refuse war and the spilling of blood. We refuse the wave of hatred and incitement against the residents of Gaza. We refuse the abandonment of the South for political spin. Join us for demonstrations and protest actions throughout the country.”
♦ Joint NGO statement (PCHR/PCATI/FIDH/EMHRN/CCR), “Call for Special Session of the Human Rights Council in the Gaza Strip : Violations of International Law Must End,” November 16, 2012
“The undersigned national, regional and international human rights organisations call upon the international community to urgently convene a Special Session of the Human Rights Council in order to address the escalating situation in the Gaza Strip. The intensification of hostilities in recent days and hours has resulted in widespread death and destruction, and concrete evidence indicating the commission of war crimes by both parties. Due to the nature of the situation, precise casualty figures are unavailable, as fieldworkers continue to investigate both previous and ongoing attacks…During the last large-scale offensive on the Gaza Strip, civilians paid the price of political inaction. We must not allow history to repeat itself.”
Analysis: In fact, these NGOs do not, and cannot, produce evidence that supports the claim that Israel has committed “war crimes.” Instead, as part of the “Durban strategy,” they are now turning to the biased UN Human Rights Council, controlled by the world’s most abusive regimes, in the hope that it will establish yet another condemnation and Goldstone-esque investigation of Israel.
♦ Joint NGO statement (PCHR/Al Mezan/Al Dameer/Gaza Community Mental Health Programme), “Palestinian civil society organisation call on international community to stop the offensive on Gaza,” November 18, 2012
“Contrary to claims by the Israeli government that Israeli forces do not target civilians, the outcome of this offensive so far has indicated that only civilians pay the price….We, Palestinian civil society organisations in the Gaza Strip, condemn the ongoing offensive by Israeli forces, and warn of further deterioration of the situation and its catastrophic impact on the lives of Palestinian civilians. We are concerned that the worst has not yet come, and unless the international community intervenes to stop this offensive, only Palestinian civilians will pay the price of this escalation.”
♦ Oxfam, Diakonia, DanChurchAid, Medecins du Monde France, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Medico International, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), Save the Children and others from AIDA, “38 aid agencies warn of humanitarian disaster in Gaza if military confrontation is not stopped,” November 19, 2012
“The agencies said the international community must apply immediate pressure on the government of Israel to keep the crossings to Gaza open to allow in supplies of essential humanitarian aid and push all parties to the conflict to end violence and uphold their obligations under International Law.”
♦ CIDSE (Broederlijk Delen, CAFOD, CCFD, Cordaid, Misereor and Trócaire)/PAx Christi/APRODEV,) “Christian development and peace groups call on Europe to act urgently against new escalation of Gaza violence,” November 19, 2012
“Amid the trauma and damage caused by the 2008 – 2009 war, the people of Gaza have been trying to rebuild and recover, even as the Israeli closure continues to cut them off from the West Bank and largely isolate them from the world…Gaza is still considered occupied, and remains under a five year-long Israeli closure, which primarily affects civilians and is contrary to international humanitarian law.”
♦ Addameer/Al Mezan/Aldameer/Al Haq/DCI-PS/BADIL and others, “Joint statement: Palestinian human rights NGOs condemn violations of international law in Gaza and call for prompt investigations and accountability,” November 23, 2012
“The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) strongly condemns the violations of international law committed during the recent Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip…We express our deep concern over the statements made by leading international community leaders; including the United Nations, United States, European Union and EU Member States. These statements, supporting Israel’s right to self-defense, fail to take into account Israel’s belligerent occupation and policies resulting in the continuous dispossession and forcible displacement of Palestinians….The undersigned organizations call upon the international community to: Taking (sic) swift steps to ensure that the violations committed in the recent offensive are promptly, impartially and transparently investigated with a view to holding those responsible accountable. Adopt immediate measures to implement the recommendations of the Report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2009.”
♦ Adalah and Al Mezan, “Adalah and Al Mezan to Israeli Military Advocate General: Bombing of Civilian Media Building in Gaza Constitutes a Serious Violation of the Laws of War,” November 18, 2012
“Under international customary law, civilian objects enjoy full protection from any attack. Attacks must be limited strictly to military objectives. Insofar as objects are concerned, military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage. According to these criteria “Al-Shoroq Tower” is a civilian building, and therefore it is prohibited to attack it.”
Adalah funding: Oxfam NOVIB (Netherlands), EU, New Israel Fund, Christian Aid (UK), EED (Germany), the pooled funds of Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands via the NGO Development Center (NDC)
♦ Al Haq, “Indiscriminate Attacks Continue to Escalate Against the Gaza Strip,” November 15, 2012
“The Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to an illegal regime of closures imposed by Israel since June 2007, is currently little more than an open-air prison….At present, Israel is granted an unconscionable level of impunity by the international community…. The fact that Israel instigated the present round of violence also undermines the Occupying Power’s claims that it is acting in self-defence against terrorism….Despite the grossly asymmetrical nature of the conflict, Palestinian armed groups are also under the obligation not to target civilians.”
♦ Al Mezan, “66 killed and wounded in a series of Israeli attacks on Gaza, Al Mezan condemns IOF escalation and calls for urgent international intervention,” November 14, 2012
“The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) escalated its attacks on the Gaza Strip today….Most IOF attacks against resistance members and locations occurred in residential areas; therefore, most of the casualties and injuries were among civilians.”
“13 Palestinians killed, 126 injured in the second day of Israeli attacks on Gaza,” November 15, 2012
“Al Mezan condemns the IOF aggression on the Gaza Strip and calls on international community to make urgent intervention to bring it to an immediate halt. International community must condemn the violations of human rights and international law; including the extra-judicial assassinations and targeting of civilians and civilian property.”
“18 Palestinians killed and over 269 injured in three days, Al Mezan calls on the international community to promptly intervene;convening of a special session of the Human Rights Council,” November 16, 2012
“Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights reiterates its strong condemnation of the IOF aggression on the Gaza Strip and calls on the international community to promptly intervene to halt the Israeli aggression ; especially the intentional attacks on civilian targets and those which fail to observe the relevant principles of international law; including attacks in civilian areas and extra-judicial assassinations.”
“28 Palestinians killed and 292 injured in continued IOF attacks on Gaza, Al Mezan calls for convening the Human Rights Council urgently,” November 16, 2012
“Attacks by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Gaza have continued through the third day of the escalation….As the IOF attacks continue and get more violent, Al Mezan calls for international intervention; including convening a special, urgent session of the Human Rights Council, to bring these attacks to an end, and ensure compliance with the rules of international law.”
“On the 4th day of IOF aggression, casualties on the rise: 37 killed, 398 injured, and houses directly attacked,” November 17, 2012
“Israeli occupation forces (IOF) launched an air strike on a house, in a serious escalation of its aggression on the Gaza Strip….As IOF continues its aggression and its disregard to its obligations under IHL by targeting civilians and civilian objects, Al Mezan asserts that IOF commits grave breaches of international law that could amount to war crimes.”
“Roof-knocking employed again by IOF in Gaza, Death toll reaches 44; over 450 wounded before the end of 4th day of aggression,” November 17, 2012
“Today, it was confirmed that the IOF started to use the ‘roof-knocking’ tactic in attacking houses in Gaza. This tactic means that Israeli warplanes fire a rocket or more to pierce the roof of a house and then fire larger bombs or missiles at the houses after a few minutes. This tactic killed dozens of Palestinian civilians during Israel’s aggression in Gaza in the winter of 2008/09, and was condemned by international community….Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights condemns the IOF’s continued violations of human rights and international humanitarian law; especially attacks that directly target civilians and civilian objects, or carried out disproportionally.
“Roof-knocking attacks claim more civilian lives, 53 Palestinians killed and over 550 injured by midday today in Gaza,” November 18, 2012
Analysis: This is a deliberate misrepresentation of the “roof-knocking” technique, which, in fact, goes above and beyond Israel’s obligations under international law to safeguard civilians. Contrary to Al Mezan’s claims, the first round does not penetrate the roof and does not damage the building; rather, it serves as a warning to civilians to leave the area in advance of an attack on a military target.
“Direct IOF airstrike targets media offices and workers in Gaza, Al Mezan condemns the attack and calls for international intervention to protect civilians,” November 18, 2012
“Al Mezan, while appreciating the important role the media plays in the situation in Gaza and the media workers who put their safety and life at great risk to show the world what is happening in Gaza, strongly condemns the IOF deliberate attack on media offices in Gaza. This attack reflects the IOF’s stark disregard to international law and civilian life.
Al Mezan stresses that the continued failure of international community to condemn IOF’s serious violations of international law and seeking to hold those who order and/or commit them accountable has only allowed, even encouraged, Israel to continue these violations. Al Mezan therefore reiterates its calls on the international community to make effective interventions to end Israel’s aggression and protect civilians; including media workers, from the IOF illegal attacks on Gaza.”
“IOF airstrike on a house leaves a family massacred, Al Mezan condemns this crime; calls for immediate intervention to end killing of civilians in Gaza,” November 18, 2012
“IOF crimes increasing and civilians continue to bear the brunt, 69 Palestinian killed and almost 600 injured in Gaza,” November 19, 2012
“These violations, along with other disproportionate attacks and extra-judicial executions, may amount to acts of war crimes and must be investigated and punished without delay. Attacks on homes and the murder of whole families call for immediate international intervention to stop IOF’s aggression and provide effective protection for civilians in Gaza.”
“International community silence give IOF cover to commit more crimes, 89 Palestinian killed and about 700 injured in Gaza,” November 19, 2012
“IOF continue attacking civilians in Gaza under false pretences, 103 Palestinian killed and about 730 injured in Gaza,” November 19, 2012
“Al Mezan strongly condemns the IOF violations of human rights and IHL. Al Mezan notes that as the time passes, the IOF attacks tend to violate international law…Al Mezan reiterates its deploring of international community’s failure to stop IOF aggression and the serious breaches of IHL they entail. Al Mezan calls on international community to intervene and provide protection for civilians under Israeli control and attack in Gaza.”
Al Mezan funding: Core donors (2009) are the NGO Development Center (NDC: Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands), Norway, Diakonia (Sweden), Trocaire (Ireland) and the EU.
♦ Alternative Information Center, “Israeli premeditated offensive against Gaza,” November 15, 2012:
“The operation, Pillar of Defense, was not a reaction to five days of military escalation on the Gaza border, but a premeditated offensive prepared several months ahead by the Israeli army and General Security Services (GSS).”
AIC Tweet, November 14, 2012: “Three #Israelis killed from rocket fire http://bit.ly/TFOi6G #Gaza #supportgaza.”
“Stop new massacre in Gaza: boycott Israel now!,” BDS Movement, November 16, 2012
“Despite biased Western media reports to the contrary, it is clear that Israel has initiated and escalated this new assault on the eve of its upcoming parliamentary elections, underlining the time-honoured Israeli formula of Palestinian bodies for ballots…. The 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza have endured the worst of Israeli impunity and violence including being placed under a medieval siege, being subjected to deliberately created food insecurity and frequent acts of Israeli state terrorism. It is the duty of all supporters of international law and universal human rights to hold Israel accountable through effective measures, such as those called for in the global, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
“Gaza attacks as ad for sale of military equipment,” November 18, 2012
“Israel’s latest round of military attacks on the Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip fulfill several Israeli goals, one of them perhaps being increased international sales of the ‘Iron Dome’ air defence system which Israel is deploying to intercept and destroy short-range rockets shot from Gaza.”
AIC Funding: Diakonia (Sweden), Christian Aid (UK), and Spain.
♦ Amos Trust, “A prayer for Gaza,” November 19, 2012
“As attempts to arrange a cease fire become more frenetic, / And world leaders try to justify the unjustifiable / ‘Israel has the right…’ / There is no right / It is all wrong.”
♦ Amnesty International, “All sides must step back from the brink to protect civilians,” November 14, 2012
“Israel’s assassination of Ahmad al-Ja’abari, the head of Hamas’ military wing has placed civilians in Gaza and southern Israel at grave risk by re-igniting the armed conflict there, said Amnesty International… Amnesty International has gathered evidence that suggests at least two of these [Israeli] attacks, on 8 and 10 November, were indiscriminate and, therefore, in violation of international humanitarian law.”
1) Amnesty provides no evidence that Israel has engaged in an “indiscriminate” response.
2) As has been demonstrated repeatedly regarding previous conflicts, Amnesty uses no identifiable methodology in making its claims and lacks the necessary information and expertise, including knowledge of Israeli military intelligence and rules of engagement.
3) Amnesty’s double standards and bias undermine the moral foundations of universal human rights
“Israel/Gaza conflict: UN must impose arms embargo, send international monitors immediately,” November 19, 2012
“As the conflict escalates between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza, Amnesty International is calling for an international arms embargo and for the immediate deployment of international monitors…The Israeli military reports that it has attacked more than 1,350 targets in the Gaza Strip since 14 November. Israeli military forces have fired artillery into densely populated residential areas, attacked government and media buildings, and bombed the family homes of members of Palestinian armed groups, killing and wounding Palestinian civilians…‘The number of civilian deaths in Gaza raises stark questions about the extent to which Israeli forces are fulfilling their obligations to protect civilian lives,’ said Ann Harrison. ‘We have serious concerns that some civilians in Gaza have been killed or injured as a result of indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks by Israeli forces.’”
Amnesty Funding: Although AI claims that it does not accept donations from governments or political parties, in 2008 the organization received a 4-year grant from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), totalling £3,149,000. In 2010, AI received £842,000 from DFID. Amnesty International and its branches have also received funding from the European Commission, the Netherlands, the United States, and Norway.
♦ Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), “The HRA Condemns the Israeli Aggression Against Gaza,” November 15, 2012
“The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) would like to affirm that Israel is not above international law and the current escalating Israeli aggression on Gaza, with its continuing indiscriminate attacks on civilians and densely populated residential areas constitutes a war crime….this aggression would not have happened if the international community had taken a stronger stance following Israel’s war crimes in 2008 and 2009. I would also say to the international community that in failing to meet the legal obligation to criminalize Israeli actions, specifically in the case of the Goldstone Report, Israel has been allowed to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people and humanity.”
Analysis: HRA offers no evidence (and possesses no evidence) that Israel has conducted “indiscriminate attacks on civilians” or “crimes against the Palestinian people and humanity.”
♦ Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), “Civilians Must Not Be Harmed – in Israel and in Gaza,” November 20, 2012
“The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) expresses its deepest sorrow following the severe consequences of the firing of rockets on Israeli citizens, as well as of Israel’s bombings of Gaza. ACRI calls to immediately stop harming civilians. The price paid by civilians due to the use of military means (exacerbated in conflicts such as this) and other aggressive measures, such as the closure of Gaza, is unbearably high. Causing injury to life and limb of civilians, as well as their emotional well-being, dignity, and chances of living a reasonable life, is unacceptable. Living in safety – without the constant threat of an assault and while being able to move freely and to live an adequate life – is a basic human right.”
♦ B’Tselem, “Learning the Lessons of the Past to protect Gaza civilians,” November 15, 2012
“As was the case four years ago, Israeli officials are now using the conduct of Palestinian organizations to justify harm to Palestinian civilians. The military has committed itself to doing its utmost to minimize harm to civilians. However it also emphasized that it is not responsible for harm inflicted to civilians.However, this position is fundamentally flawed. The fact that Hamas combatants and other organizations operate contrary to the law does not automatically justify Israeli actions that harm civilians. The fact that one side violates the law does not give the other side the right to violate it as well. Israel is still bound by the duty – legal and moral – to use all the means at its disposal to minimize as much as possible harm to civilians, despite Hamas’ illegal conduct.”
Analysis: To date, the collateral damage ratio in the current Gaza hostilities based on the number of IDF operations is the lowest of any conflict in the history of warfare. As a result, in order to maintain its political narrative, B’Tselem tries to raise the specter of violations by Israel since there is no evidence that Israel has violated any of the laws of war. B’Tselem claims that “Israel is still bound by the duty . . . to minimize as much as possible harm to civilians,” and indeed, that is exactly what the IDF has done.
“3 Israeli civilians killed from rocket fire by Palestinian organizations in Gaza,” November 15, 2012
“The Palestinian organizations that fire the rockets and mortar shells into Israel openly declare that their objective is to kill civilians. As B’Tselem has repeatedly noted, aiming an attack at civilians is immoral and constitutes a war crime. The Hamas government in Gaza must take all lawful means at its disposal to stop the rocket and mortar fire. The Palestinian organizations must stop aiming attacks at civilians. The persons who carried out these attacks, were involved in their planning and commission, or whose position obligates them to prevent such attacks, bear individual criminal responsibility for the rocket fire.”
“Initial Investigation: Thirteen of the Palestinians killed in Operation Pillar of Defense, up to the night of November 17, were civilians, among them seven children,” November 18, 2012
“Initial Findings: 40 of the Palestinians killed by the Israeli military up to the night of 19 Nov. were civilians, among them 19 minors,” November 21, 2012
♦ Caritas, “Gaza crisis threatens humanitarian relief efforts,” November 19, 2012
♦ Christian Aid, “Call for restraint in Gaza Crisis,” November 15, 2012
“Christian Aid is deeply concerned about the threat to civilian life in the region following the intensification of violence between Israel and the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip over the last week, and calls for all sides to exercise maximum restraint and protect civilian life.”
Analysis: Christian Aid’s calls for “maximum restraint” may reflect the organization’s religious and political ideologies, but it does not reflect international law.
Christian Aid funding: UK, Ireland, Norway, and EU.
♦ Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), “In conflict, Israel must respect media,” November 18, 2012
“‘Journalists are civilians and are protected under international law in military conflict,’ said CPJ Deputy Director, Robert Mahoney. ‘Israel knows this and should cease targeting facilities housing media organizations and journalists immediately.’”
♦ FIDH, “Suspects of international crimes should not be shielded from accountability once again!” November 23, 2012
“The high number of civilian casualties and destruction in the Gaza strip indicates the direct targeting of civilians and the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by the Israeli Defense Forces, which is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. FIDH reaffirms that the grave human rights violations which may constitute international crimes, should not remain unpunished and those responsible for their perpetration should be duly held accountable.”
♦ Free Gaza Movement, “Internationals Desperately Needed in Gaza,” November 21, 2012
“We are urging internationals to come to Gaza as human rights defenders and solidarity activists and to bear witness to the Israeli crimes against a civilian population trapped in an open-air prison with nowhere to hide, pounded by Israeli drones, F-16s, helicopters and missiles.”
♦ Gisha, “Update on activities at the crossings in the wake of escalation,” November 15, 2012
“We watch with concern as the escalation in Gaza and in the south of Israel claims the lives of and injures civilians and damages civilian property.”
“No To Collective Punishment In Gaza,” Sari Bashi, Open Zion, November 16, 2012
“Despite Israel’s withdrawal of settlers and permanent ground military positions from Gaza in 2005, it continues to exercise control over Gaza’s crossings. That control creates obligations, under the law of occupation, to allow people in Gaza the kind of access necessary for normal life, including the ability to market goods in the West Bank and Israel and to travel to the West Bank. International law allows combatants to fight combatants. It does not allow armies to punish civilians in retaliation for the acts of militants.”
Analysis: As with many Gisha statements, Bashi perpetuates the false claims that Gaza is still “occupied” and that all Gaza’s crossings are controlled by Israel, despite Gaza’s shared border with Egypt. She also continues to distort the legal concept of “collective punishment” which addresses collective penal punishments, and has nothing to do with economic trade or entry policies. Bashi fails to provide any constructive solutions for dealing with deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians from Gaza (each one a war crime and collectively, crimes against humanity), and instead, relies on empty slogans and platitudes.
“Ongoing updates on the situation in Gaza: Activity at the crossings and tunnels, prices and shortages,” November 19, 2012
♦ Human Rights Watch, “Israel/Gaza: Avoid Harm to Civilians,” November 15, 2012
“The laws of war require forces to take all feasible precautions to ensure that attacks are only carried out against military targets, not civilians, and attacks should be canceled if it becomes apparent the target is not military. It is unlawful to carry out an attack in which the expected civilian loss is disproportionate to the anticipated military gain. “Israeli forces attacking Palestinian armed groups cannot ignore the presence of civilians, including those seeking to help wounded fighters,” Stork said. “The high number of civilians wounded in the November 10 Israeli counter-attack also raises concerns that it was unlawfully disproportionate.”
“Q & A on Hostilities between Israel and Hamas,” November 20, 2012
“Build on Ceasefire to Address Rights Abuses,” November 23, 2012
“With Fighting’s End, Major Concerns Remain Impunity, Blockade, Freedom of Movement”
♦ Independent Jewish Voices (Canada), “Israel’s attack on Gaza is a ‘Pillar of War Crimes’,” November 14, 2012
“Independent Jewish Voices is condemning Israel’s latest attack on the Palestinians trapped in Gaza by Israel’s illegal blockade… Israel’s latest attack on Gaza is not a ‘Pillar of Defense.’ It’s a Pillar of War Crimes, which we have a moral obligation to oppose…This latest atrocity is compounded by the fact that, thanks to Israel’s illegal and inhumane blockade, for the people who live in Gaza there is no escape.”
♦ International Solidarity Movement, “Assault on Gaza – Letter from ISM activist,” November 14, 2012
“YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. MOVE. ACT NOW TO STOP ANOTHER GAZA BLOODBATH. INACTION AROUND THE WORLD HAS LEAD US TO THIS POINT. ACT NOW.”
“Voices of Resistance,” November 18, 2012
Quote by Haidar Eid: “Apartheid Israel must not get away with its crimes against the innocent civilians of Gaza. What more does the international community need to see to be convinced to act than the dozens of dead corpses and amputated bodies of children and women in Gaza? We no longer count on governments, especially Western, but rather on people of conscience and civil society to exert whatever pressure they can on the fascist government of Israel to stop its war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in broad day light!”
ISM funding: Claims not to “receive any funding from any state, government or association.” Due to non-transparency, further funding information is not available.
♦ Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, “ICAHD CONDEMNS THE ISRAELI ATTACKS ON GAZA,” November 16, 2012
Although Israeli spokespeople never mention the word “occupation” (in fact, Israel officially denies there even is an occupation), this is the context within which the events taking place must be understood. Israel presents its attacks as mere self-defense, as if it is an innocent, peace-loving country undergoing attacks from hostile forces; it often uses the example of missiles being fired at the US from Canada. In fact it is Israel that has held the Palestinians under violent occupation these past 45 years, including the inhabitants of Gaza, who have been systematically impoverished, imprisoned, blockaded, excluded from their agricultural lands, assassinated from the air and killed on the ground – an entire civilian population terrorized by a powerful state with the most advanced military weaponry.
♦ Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), “JVP Statement on Israel’s Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’,” November 14, 2012
“JVP urges Israel not to exploit its asymmetric power to exacerbate the instability in the region…It is unseemly to invoke the protection afforded the Israelites wandering in the desert when Israel is the dominant military power in the region. JVP rejects the possibility that such a military operation and escalation of violence will be of any protection for Israelis or Palestinians.”
“Boston Jews to Protest Rally to Support Israel, Call for Inclusive, Compassionate Jewish Community,” November 19, 2012
“Members of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)… will protest in response to the ‘Rally to Support Israel: Freedom from Fear’ organized by Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and the Jewish Communiy (sic)Relations Council (JCRC) and attended by Governor Deval Patrick. The rally claims to be a gathering for peace and the safety of the people and children of Israel, but JVP calls out this event for what it truly is: a pro-war rally that falsely aims to represent the Jewish community.”
♦ MADRE, “Women Peace Activists Demand an End to Attacks in Gaza and Israel,” November 15, 2012
“By assassinating a man who has played a central role in past ceasefire negotiations, Israel’s leaders are further foreclosing the possibility of peace. That, in fact, is the essence of Netanyahu’s election strategy. And families in Gaza are paying with their lives for his political manipulations.”
“Support Emergency Aid for Gaza,” n.d
“As I write this, a terrifying situation is unfolding, and a new war is being waged in Gaza. …Many more lives are at risk as the Israeli military threatens to escalate its assault….PS – I just spoke with my brother in Tel Aviv. People there are also afraid, as rockets land in nearby. But they know that bombing civilians in Gaza is not the answer. Here’s what my brother said: ‘Our kids are scared of the air raid siren, but at least we have a bomb shelter. The children in Gaza have no protection against Israel’s huge military force.’”
♦ Médecins Sans Frontières, “MSF Emergency Response To Operation ‘Pillar Of Defense’ Gaza,” November 19, 2012
“‘This new offensive is making an already very fragile humanitarian and public health situation much worse,’ noted Virginie Mathieu, MSF’s head of mission the Palestinian Territories. ‘MSF has been regularly denouncing the politicization of the Palestinian health system and the impact of the double conflict—Israeli and Palestinian, and between Palestinian groups—since 2006. The population is suffering from years of conflict, from a lack of access to certain kinds of health care and from shortages of medicines and other medical supplies.’”
♦ Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), “Emergency Response to the Attacks on Gaza,” November 15, 2012
“The world is witnessing the most intense attacks in Gaza from Israel since the 2009 War on Gaza. According to sources, total of 11 Palestinians killed, including three children, since Israel launched the operation Wednesday afternoon.”
Analysis: No mention of those killed on the Israeli side or of rocket attacks into Southern Israel.
“UK charity responds immediately to crisis in Gaza,” November 15, 2012
“The rapid deterioration of the security situation in Gaza began on 8 November when Israeli soldiers invaded Gaza after a two-week lull in violence….The international community must take immediate action to end the current escalation in violence, before the lives of more Palestinian families are destroyed.”
“A sleepless night in Gaza,” Fikr Shalltoot, MAP’s Programme Manager in Gaza, November 16, 2012
“It is extremely difficult to describe what is going on and its psychological impact on us….What is going on can’t be justified. People are still very traumatised and are not ready to cope with this aggression.”
“Situation update,” November 17, 2012
“Israel’s ongoing bombardment of one of the most densely populated areas in the world is taking a terrible toll on Palestinian civilians who, living under blockade for over 5 years, have still not recovered from the last war on Gaza.”
MAP funding: Donors include Ireland,UK, EU, the Netherlands
♦ Oxfam International, “Oxfam calls for immediate restraint as Gaza-Israel violence rapidly escalates,” November 14, 2012
“In the context of rapidly escalating violence in and around Gaza and southern Israel, the international aid and development agency Oxfam has called for an immediate halt to rocket attacks towards Israel and Israeli military intervention in Gaza…’The failure of world leaders to prioritize a solution for Gaza – still under blockade for more than five years now – creates an atmosphere where there are no consequences for violations committed by all sides, and civilians are the ones paying the highest price. Real security for people in Gaza and southern Israel comes when all parties to the conflict put people before politics and abide by their obligations under international law’.”
1) Oxfam accuses Israel of “violations” and not meeting “obligations under international law” without providing any support for those claims.
2) Oxfam makes several misrepresentations and obfuscations regarding the “blockade”. First, the organization does not mention that there is no blockade by Israel of civilian goods into Gaza via land crossings. In fact, thousands of tons of goods cross into Gaza each week from Israel. Importantly, Oxfam also fails to inform its audience that Gaza shares an open border with Egypt. Moreover, Oxfam ignores the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, found that [Israel’s] “naval blockade [of Gaza] was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
“Egypt fears humanitarian crisis in Gaza following Israeli assaults,” Dina Ezzat, Ahram Online, November 16, 2012
“Into the third day of the Israeli onslaught, Gaza is already suffering considerably, according to global charity group Oxfam’s Karl Schembri, who is currently based in the besieged coastal enclave. ‘People are terrified. Mothers say that their children are waking up frightened in the middle of the night…The blockade is the real problem that must be addressed…The blockade means that, even when attacks stop, reconstruction is impossible; it means unemployment and economic stagnation.’”
“Blockade must end now says international agency Oxfam,” November 21, 2012
“But we need more than a ceasefire. We cannot return to business as usual. For five years, Gaza has been subject to a crippling blockade, which has restricted what it can import and export and destroyed its economy….The international community’s two-state solution will be impossible to achieve while the blockade continues and Palestinians remain divided between Gaza and the West Bank.”
Oxfam funding: For the period spanning April 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012, Oxfam received 74 million Euros from the EU and other EU institutions; 31.8 million Euros from other Governments and 158.7 million Euros from ‘Home Government’ institutions.
♦ Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), “New Israeli Military Escalation against the Gaza Strip; Leader of Hamas’ Armed Wing and His Bodyguard Extra-Judicially Executed and Death Toll in Rises to 13,” November 15, 2012
“IOF have escalated the situation in spite of the quiet atmosphere that followed a previous wave of escalation.”
“IOF Continue the Offensive on the Gaza Strip: Civilian Deaths Rise to 10, Including 6 Children, and 253 Others, Including 62 Children, Wounded,” November 16, 2012
“Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) have continued the offensive on the Gaza Strip. Over the past 24 hours, IOF have intensified aerial, marine and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip.”
“Ongoing Israeli Offensive on Gaza: Palestinian Civilian Deaths Rise to 17, Including 2 Women and 6 Children, and 381 Wounded, Including 107 Children and 64 Women,” November 17, 2012
“History is repeated as the international community turns its back on Gaza,” Raji Sourani, Al Jazeera November 17, 2012
“Today, these same victims, along with the entire population of Gaza, are once more subject to relentless attack. Once again, international law is being disregarded as Israel launches wave after wave of attacks on the Gaza Strip.”
“PCHR Strongly Condemns Targeting of Journalists in Gaza by Israeli Warplanes,” November 18, 2012
“PCHR stresses that journalists and media professionals, like civilian persons, enjoy special protection in time of war under international humanitarian law; targeting them constitutes a systematic crime to silence the press and prevent journalists from reporting on the crimes that are being committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip…PCHR strongly condemns crimes committed by Israeli forces against journalists and media professionals, who enjoy special protection in time of war under the international humanitarian law. PCHR calls upon the international community, in particular the High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to fulfill their obligations to ensure respect for the Convention, and to effectively intervene to prevent grave breaches of the Convention by Israel.”
“Ongoing Israeli Offensive on Gaza: Palestinian Civilian Deaths Rise to 27, Including 10 Children and 5 Women, and 520 Wounded, Including 140 Children and 83 Women,” November 18, 2012
“Attempts to Rescue the al-Dalu Family Ongoing; Israeli Occupation Forces Destroy House over Its Residents,” November 19, 2012
“On Sunday afternoon, 18 November 2012, in an example of blatant targeting of civilians during their offensive on the Gaza Strip, that has been ongoing for the 6th consecutive day, Israeli Occupation Forces killed 8 members of the al-Dalu family in Gaza City….PCHR strongly condemns this crime, which constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, and calls upon the international community to immediately act to stop crimes committed by Israeli forces.”
“Ongoing Israeli Offensive on Gaza: Palestinian Civilian Deaths Rise to 58, Including 18 Children and 12 Women, and 622 Wounded, Including 175 Children and 107 Women,” November 19, 2012
♦ Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I), “’Physicians for Human Rights – Israel’ call decision makers to refrain from an attack on Gaza that may cause many victims in Gaza and Israel,” November 14, 2012
“Many years of neglecting the advancement of peace and ongoing occupation have led us once again to disaster. Instead of taking brave action, lifting the closure on Gaza and allowing Gaza’s residents freedom of movement as well as the security of residents of southern Israel, we are facing another war….A true and honest care for the fate of residents of Gaza and southern Israel has little to do with another military attack, whose timing, just before elections, raises concern that the lives of residents of Gaza and southern Israel have lost their value and have become but a tool in the cynical political arena.”
1) This is a personal (and legitimate) political opinion, with absolutely no medical content
2) PHR-I’s silence on the hundreds of Hamas war crimes targeting Israeli civilians and its shrill allegations that the Israeli government is acting solely “in the cynical political arena” and of using an “empty display of force” reflect a political bias and double standards that are inconsistent with claims to promote universal human rights.
Retweeted by PHR-I (later removed from their feed), November 15, 2012: “Calling and encouraging all #israeli soldiers on duty to refuse orders and disobey. Don’t take part in the slaughter of the innocents. #GAZA”
Analysis: By removing this tweet, PHR-I acknowledges that this message was highly offensive and inappropriate.
“Worrisome testimonies regarding obstruction the orderly function of emergency and rescue teams in Gaza strip,” November 17, 2012
“The destruction of infrastructure, such as roads, causes difficulties and delays reaching the wounded. In some cases the blocked roads, created by potholes resulting from bombings, or demolished houses blocking streets, do not allow clear transfer of ambulances. Thus, the paramedics are required to walk and carry the wounded while endangering their lives and arriving to the wounded with delay, with time being of the essence, creating the difference between life and death.”
Analysis: PHR-I’s prejudicial statement is innuendo, not legal analysis. PHR-I provides no evidence that Israel has targeted medical personnel or facilities, and instead refers to incidental ramifications of legitimate Israeli strikes to create a false impression of violations.
PHR-I Funding: Donors in 2011 include Christian Aid (UK), Diakonia (Sweden), Spain, EU, New Israel Fund, Norway
♦ Reporters Without Borders (RWB), “RWB condemns air strikes on news media in Gaza city,” November 18, 2012
“‘These attacks constitute obstruction of freedom of information,’ Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. ‘We remind the Israeli authorities that, under humanitarian law, the news media enjoy the same protection as civilians and cannot be regarded as military targets.’…Even if the targeted media support Hamas, this does not in any way legitimize the attacks. We call for a transparent investigation into the circumstances of these air strikes. Attacks on civilian targets are war crimes and serious violations of the Geneva Conventions. Those responsible must be identified….Information was also one of the victims of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009 (read the RWB report). At the time, Reporters Without Borders condemned Israel’s decision to declare the Gaza Strip a ‘closed military zone’ and deny access to journalists working for international media. The IDF also targeted pro-Hamas media during Operation Cast Lead.”
♦ Sabeel, “Wave of Prayer,” November 22, 2012
“Jesus of Nazareth, you once cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ As violence increases day by day in Palestine & Israel, especially within Gaza, we cry the same. You yourself experienced this kind of darkness; walk with us in our grief. Lord, turn your face towards the forsaken people of Gaza to shelter them from violence, fear, hunger, and cold. May Israel’s policy of siege and blockade against Gaza end, so that its leaders might speak truthfully about self-defense. Lord, teach us to sow hope and not despair as we lament all the lives lost. May the current chaos cease, and may just reconciliation be advanced soon by courageous peacemakers who would address the root problems of the situation instead of merely managing the conflict. Lord, in your mercy…”
♦ Save the Children, “Dire Situation for Children Worsens as Violence Escalates in Gaza and Israel, says Save the Children,” November 19, 2012
“‘It is a dangerous and terrifying time for children – who make up nearly half the population of the Gaza Strip’… ‘The escalation of violence on top of an already fragile situation is extremely dangerous for children,’ said Alex Schein, Save the Children’s Country Director. ‘They are being deeply affected by what they have experienced, and many could need specialist care and support. The fear among adults is unbelievable so you can imagine what it’s like for children.’”
♦ UCP (ICCO, Cordaid, Oxfam-Novib, IKV Pax Christi), “Stop the violence in Gaza and Israel,” November 16, 2012
“With the assassination of a Palestinian leader on Tuesday November 13, an end has come to the short-lived truce that seemed to be agreed upon on Monday the 12th. After the back and forth shootings in the month of October, Palestinian organizations were ready for truce. In October, the acts of violence started on the 7th day with attacks coming from the Israeli army.”
Analysis: Israel alone is blamed for the escalation and the NGOs promote the false rhetoric of “blockade” and “humanitarian” crisis. Gaza shares a border with Egypt where there is a brisk trade of all goods, as well as smuggling of long-range rockets and other weapons from Iran that are then used to deliberately target Israeli civilians. Despite no legal obligation to do so, Israel supplies thousands of tons of goods to Gaza each week, yet this fact is absent from this statement. The statement also ignores that when shortages of medicines or electricity due occur, they are caused by the hoarding of goods by Hamas officials as well as political in-fighting between Hamas and the PLO.
♦ War on Want, “War on Want statement on Israel’s assault on Gaza,” November 15, 2012
“Israel’s latest attack on civilians in Gaza is a war crime, made possible only through the continued financial, military and diplomatic support Israel receives from Western states. The UK government and other EU member states are rewarding Israeli aggression with economic trade preferences.”
“Take action for Gaza,” n.d.
“By selling arms to Israel, the British government is giving direct material support for Israel’s aggression and sending a clear message of approval for its actions….The principal barrier to peace with justice is Israel’s continuing violations of human rights and international law and its policies of collective punishment. This latest escalation of violence demonstrates exactly why the UK should not be arming Israel. I urge you to write to the Foreign Secretary calling on him to condemn Israel’s action and to introduce an immediate and comprehensive two-way arms embargo on Israel until it ends its violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.”
♦ World Council of Churches (WCC), “WCC general secretary expresses concern over violence in Gaza and Israel,” November 16, 2012
“‘We call upon the UN Security Council and the Arab League to take immediate resolutions and measures to put an end to the escalation of violence, in the interest of both parties,’ he added….In his statement, he also reiterated the WCC’s call for an end of the six-year blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel. ‘The WCC declares that the rocket attacks from Gaza into civilian communities in Israel, which are reprehensible and never justifiable, might also have very negative effects at a time when Palestinians are seeking international support of, and recognition by, the international community for a future viable and contiguous state,’ concluded Tveit.”