On June 30, 2009, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released another pseudo-research report on a very narrow aspect of the Gaza fighting (January 2009), alleging that the IDF fired missiles from drones and illegally “failed to take all feasible precautions to verify that [the] targets were combatants.” As with its March 2009 report claiming white phosphorous use, this report, which lists only six incidents, clearly lacks credibility, is based on unverifiable “evidence” and “eyewitnesses,” and continues a well-established pattern of false claims and a biased agenda. Among other problems, the basic assumption that the weapons (Spike missiles) referred to by HRW were fired by drones is entirely speculative, since, as military experts note, Spikes “can be fired by helicopters, infantry units and naval craft.” Similarly, allegations of civilian deaths and claims regarding the military context rest on Palestinian statements and ideology. Marc Garlasco, the main author and HRW’s “military expert,” has a history of making such pseudo-technical allegations that lack evidence and simply repeat Palestinian claims, as in the 2006 “Gaza Beach” incident, and regarding IDF actions in the 2006 Lebanon War.
Similarly, Amnesty International published a report entitled Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 Days of Death and Destruction (July 2, 2009), charging Israel with “war crimes” during the conflict. As in the case of the HRW pseudo-report, the prejudicial and tenuous 127-page publication ignores considerable evidence that Hamas used human shields, minimizes Palestinian violations of international law, and promotes boycotts and “lawfare” against Israel. The only mention of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit was in a footnote, underlining Amnesty’s double standards in the application of human rights norms. (NGO Monitor is in the process of preparing detailed analyses of HRW’s and Amnesty’s claims.)
Both of these investigations fall far short of the requirements stipulated in the “Lund-London Guidelines” for “human rights fact-finding visits and reports.”
These attacks have been accompanied by the promotion of the UN’s “fact-finding mission” targeting Israel and led by Judge Richard Goldstone. HRW, of which Goldstone was a board member until he resigned after the inquiry began, has issued multiple press releases in support of the biased investigation (April 14, 2009; May 6, 2009; May 17, 2009), lobbied the United States, Israel, Hamas, and the UN on its behalf, erasing the one-sided mandate, inherent double standards and overt bias of some committee members. HRW even condemned President Obama for not mentioning the inquiry in his Cairo speech, and commended Egypt’s “facilitating” of the mission in an overview of the human rights situation in the country.
Additionally, Amnesty official Donatella Rovera praised Goldstone and the “experts” involved with the inquiry. Israeli NGOs B’Tselem, HaMoked, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) have also campaigned in support of Goldstone and submitted statements to the commission.
For further analysis, see also:
- Prof. Gerald Steinberg, Comment: Political, legal assault against Israel is just beginning, Jerusalem Post, July 5, 2009
- Anne Herzberg, NGOs dominate Gaza fact-finding commissions, Jerusalem Post, June 08, 2009