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On August 27, Oxfam International released a report, “Cease Failure – Rethinking seven years of failing policies in Gaza,”1 in response to the July-August 2014 Gaza conflict.

Like most of Oxfam’s publications on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “Cease Failure” is highly tendentious in its presentation of material, includes numerous factual errors, and promotes a fundamental political bias against Israel. The 13-page report highlights the sharp contrast between Oxfam’s stated mission to fight poverty and provide humanitarian aid, and an agenda that exploits a façade of legal and military analysis – two complex areas where Oxfam has no expertise.

The report reflects Oxfam’s myopathy, examining the complex situation of the Arab-Israeli conflict through the narrow lens of what its officials claim is best for impoverished citizens of Gaza and what Israel can do to alleviate their situation. This is dangerous, as there is no serious effort to grapple with the negative, long term consequences and collateral damage of the proposed policies, including the denial of rights for Israelis and Palestinians.


Superficial focus on the conflict’s impact, downplaying Hamas crimes

Although ostensibly considering the conflict’s humanitarian impact, the report makes numerous assertions and allegations regarding the nature of the war itself, largely repeating the Palestinian narrative and ignoring the Israeli perspective. The essential fact that during the 50+ day conflict, Hamas and other groups launched 4,560 rockets and missiles into Israel, each one a war crime, goes unmentioned. The group also ignores the discovery of dozens of sophisticated tunnels to carry out terror attacks. Likewise, the sources of these weapons and the commandeering of international humanitarian aid and use of international facilities to carry out these attacks are glaringly omitted.

The report also omits the fact that Hamas, a terror organization, controls Gaza following a violent coup against the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Instead, the report’s primary focus with regards to Hamas is a criticism of Israel’s policy of isolation toward the terror group.

Highlighting the predicament of Gaza residents while ignoring Israeli civilians

Among the more glaring examples of Oxfam’s clear bias is the report’s detailed claims regarding the number of Gaza residential buildings and schools damaged or destroyed. In this account, the report ignores numerous documented2 cases where ostensibly civilian buildings within Gaza were used as weapons storage facilities and rocket launch sites.

Similarly, no mention is made of the Israeli houses, kindergartens, and other Israeli civilian institutions that were deliberately targeted and damaged by Hamas rockets attacks, constituting an undeniable war crime.

And while the Oxfam publication describes the plight of Gaza residents forced to flee their homes, it erases the thousands of Israeli residents evacuated from their homes and communities as well as the significant disruption to daily life because of indiscriminate Hamas rocket fire.

That Oxfam can make such obvious omissions is beyond negligent, and demonstrates a clear and dangerous bias that fuels the conflict, doing nothing positive for victims on either side.

Disputed casualty figures

Oxfam’s questionable research methods and faulty conclusions are evident in the report’s repetition of civilian causality statistics based almost exclusively on the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian affairs (OCHA) report.3 The OCHA report has been shown to include major errors in which many “civilian causalities” were shown to be active combatants.4 As a result of this failure, both Oxfam’s factual claims and the analysis that follows are rendered invalid.Further demonstrating the absence of the military analytical capabilities which are necessary for such a publication, Oxfam’s report also failed to acknowledge occasions when Hamas rockets and other munitions misfired and exploded within Gaza, or when weapons fired indiscriminately towards Israel fell short, resulting in death of civilians and destruction of property within Gaza. Oxfam ignores the damage on Gaza’s infrastructure caused by secondary explosions, resulting from mass weapons storage by Palestinian terrorists in civilian areas.

Subjective political statements

The report’s repeated use of emotional Palestinian narratives5 and subjective political remarks demonstrates Oxfam’s destructive bias. For example, the report laments that:

“Israeli and Palestinian leaders – and the international community – failed to take advantage of the unprecedented opportunity to end the cycle of violence and significantly improve the lives of civilians on both sides.”6

Contrary to Oxfam’s assertion, Israel facilitated the transfer of thousands of tons of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, with the express purpose of improving civilian lives there.7 This aid included building materials meant to build infrastructure for Gaza residents, but was instead used to purchase advanced weaponry, and build a network of incursion tunnels and missiles.

Lack of demand for substantial accountability

Oxfam correctly notes the need to increase “much-needed accountability…as a way to prevent more violence and destruction in the future.” But instead of demanding accountability among its own staff and the rulers of Gaza for the misuse of humanitarian aid, Oxfam calls for an increase in unsupervised international aid for the region. By demanding the unrestricted8 flow of aid into the hands of those who have previously exploited it, Oxfam is essentially helping to perpetuate the conflict by enabling Hamas to rearm at the expense of Gaza civilians.

Oxfam’s demand for accountability falls solely upon the IDF, while it makes no such demands in the cases of Israeli civilian deaths caused by Hamas.9 This double standard is not only troubling in the way Oxfam absolves Hamas for its war crimes, but it also ignores multiple cases in which Hamas security forces executed dozens of Palestinian civilians.

Flawed recommendations

Oxfam’s lack of knowledge and inability to understand complex issues can be seen in the recommendations made in the report’s conclusion. Among them is the suggestion to re-deploy the Palestinian Presidential Guard and international monitors to Gaza terminals. This idea ignores the record of failure involving international forces in the face of armed conflict in the region. Among examples from Lebanon and elsewhere, in 2006, international monitors from the European Union in Gaza fled following threats from Hamas, and in the 2007 Gaza coup, members of the PA Presidential Guard were executed by Hamas.

Oxfam also demands an upgrade for the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel “as a step toward sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation.”10 Oxfam ignores the fact that during the latest conflict Israel continued to facilitate the steady flow of goods into Gaza.11 Moreover, Oxfam fails to mention that Kerem Shalom has been the site of repeated suicide attacks and rocket barrages by Palestinian terrorists.


Oxfam’s stated goal of working to advance the livelihood and rights of those in Gaza and Israel is compromised by its latest report. The report contains numerous errors, and includes significant omissions and misguided conclusions that worsen, rather than improve, the lives of those in the region.