Table of Contents:
- Amnesty International assert that Israel targets civilians
- Human Rights Watch dismisses Hezbollah’s use of human shields
- International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) accuses Israel of "war crimes"
- MIFTAH claims that civilian deaths in Lebanon are a systematic Israeli policy
- PNGO compares Israel’s military operation in Lebanon to the Holocaust
- Three Palestinian NGOs erase the context of terror in condemning Israel’s military activities in Gaza as criminal and brutal. World Vision issues neutral comment on both conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon
A large number of NGOs have made numerous statements about the current conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah. The crisis began on July 12 when Hezbollah fired tens of rockets at Israeli towns, then crossed into Israeli territory, abducted two soldiers and killed three others (five other Israeli soldiers were killed while attempting a rescue mission). NGO statements have focused overwhelmingly on alleged Israeli infractions of the rules of war while paying little attention to the approximately 2,700 rockets Hezbollah fired at Israeli towns and cities in four weeks, and the militia’s use of human shields. Below is a selection of a few of the most imbalanced NGO statements on the conflict. NGO Monitor’s updated summary and analysis of NGO activities related to the crisis can be found here.
Amnesty International assert that Israel targets civilians
Amnesty International – In a July 13 press release Amnesty International (AI) said "Israel must put an immediate end to attacks against civilians", and provocatively asserts that Israel deliberately targets civilians.
Human Rights Watch dismisses Hezbollah’s use of human shields
Human Rights Watch (HRW) – In HRW’s July 17, Questions and Answers document it declared that Israel’s "destruction seems aimed more at inconveniencing the civilian population and even preventing it from fleeing the fighting and seeking safety." The clear focus of the IDF operation has been to weaken Hezbollah and remove it from the border zone, a task made more difficult by the presence of civilians. Israel’s frequent leaflet-drops and other measures aimed at warning civilians to leave the region also contradict this claim.
In an Op-Ed July of July 31, published in the Guardian, Peter Bouckaert, HRW’s "Emergencies Director" said "the pattern of Israeli behavior in southern Lebanon suggests a deliberate policy…Israel blames Hezbollah for the massive civilian toll in Lebanon, claiming that they are hiding the rockets they are firing at Israel, in civilian homes, and that they are fighting from within the civilian population. This is a convenient excuse."
International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) accuses Israel of "war crimes"
International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) – FIDH issued a press release on August 1, saying "the losses inflicted on the civil populations…are not collateral effects of legitimate actions of war but are…willful punishment on the collective population, including murder. These are war crimes of exceptional gravity, knowingly organized by a democratic government."
MIFTAH claims that civilian deaths in Lebanon are a systematic Israeli policy
MIFTAH, a Palestinian lobbying group funded by the EU and the Ford Foundation, published an op-ed on August 2. The author claimed that Lebanese civilian deaths "are part of a systematic policy carried out by the Israeli military establishment, approved by the highest political echelons, aimed at squashing, silencing and obliterating any voice of rebellion, anyone who dares stand up to the beast." MIFTAH has repeatedly accused Israel of targeting civilians during the current conflict.
PNGO compares Israel’s military operation in Lebanon to the Holocaust
PNGO, a large umbrella organization for Palestinian NGOs, wrote an Open Letter to Condoleezza Rice dated July 24 in which it said "the force being used by the Israeli troops …is inhuman and savage, aiming at exterminating as many people as possible. This brings to our minds the force used by Serbia in Bosnia as well as the crimes against humanity committed in the Second World War."
Three Palestinian NGOs erase the context of terror in condemning Israel’s military activities in Gaza as criminal and brutal. World Vision issues neutral comment on both conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon
Israel’s military operation in the Gaza strip has also continued after the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shavit on June 25. Since NGO Monitor’s previous report, NGOs have made further political statements which erase the context of Palestinian terror activities, including the ongoing Qassam rocket fire from Gaza.
- On June 28 Sabeel, a Palestinian NGO which has led the campaign for divestment from Israel, issued a press release stating that "Palestinian prisoners deserve the same rights as political prisoners around the world…Taking Israeli soldiers captive has become the only way to force the release of prisoners." This strident statement is not consistent with Sabeel’s declared platform of non-violence.
- Al Mezan released a statement saying on August 7 "Al Mezan… highlights that the huge loss in life and property evidence the prior intent and deliberate nature of IOF killings and destruction. Al Mezan confirms that the IOF have committed war crimes violating the texts of international humanitarian law." Al Mezan does not mention the captured Israeli soldier, or call for his release, and removes all context from the IDF operations in Gaza.
- Al-Dameer, a Palestinian NGO which receives funds from the UN, the Ford Foundation and the International Commission of Jurists among others, issued a press release on July 16 stating that the "international community is conducting a mute conspiracy and encourages the Occupation Government to commit more crimes." Its statement made no mention of Palestinian violence or Qassam rocket attacks and did not call for the release of Shalit.
- World Vision International (WVI) issued a statement on August 10. WVI said that it "grieves for all victims of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, be they Lebanese, Israeli or Palestinian…Israeli civilians in the North of Israel, Palestinian civilians in Gaza and Lebanese civilians are caught under a terrible threat to their lives."
"Human Rights Watch targets Israel", in OpinionOnline.com, July 20, 2006
"Human Rights Watch’s Q&A on Lebanon War: Selective and Distorted Application of International Law" by Dr. Avi Bell, in The New York Sun, July 23, 2006
Exchange of letters between Avi Bell and Kenneth Roth, HRW’s Executive Director, The New York Sun, July 31, 2006
"Is Israel Disproportionate?", Gerald Steinberg The Jewish Chronicle, July 22, 2006
"NGOs that Take Sides" by Gerald Steinberg, in Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2006
"Does Human Rights Watch Consider Sri Lankan Life Worth Less Than Lebanese?", by Jeremy Sharon, in OpEdNews.com,, August 2, 2006
Abraham Foxman, "No Accident", The New York Sun, August 2, 2006 (on HRW’s political agenda)
Dr. Robbie Sabel, "Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon and the Law of Armed Conflict", Jurist (online legal resource of the University of Pittsburgh), July 27, 2006
Joshua Brook, "Human Rights Advocates Embarrass Themselves: Out of proportion", The New Republic, July 28, 2006