Lawfare (legal warfare), exploiting international legal frameworks and principles, is a major weapon in the political war against Israel. NGOs claim they are filing lawsuits and pursuing “war crimes” charges against Israelis to obtain “justice” for Palestinian victims. In reality, these cases are part of the larger campaign that seeks to demonize Israel in the international arena and to delegitimize responses to terror attacks against Israeli civilians. 

In the aftermath of the barbaric Hamas massacre of October 7, rather than use law and international justice frameworks to support the victims of the atrocities, supposed human rights NGOs have sought to use lawfare to spread anti-Israel propaganda and to target allied support for Israel in an effort to harm the IDF’s ability to defeat Hamas. These NGOs have filed lawsuits against the United States, UK, and the Netherlands, seeking judgments that would force those governments to adopt BDS measures against Israel. The NGOs have also intensified their ICC lobbying. The legal basis for these lawsuits are exceedingly weak, if not frivolous, and may meet the threshold for sanctionable conduct in some of the jurisdictions. 

The lawfare cases are an expansion of their campaigns since October 7, including numerous publications condemning Israeli anti-terror operations and leveling false accusations of “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” “genocide,” and “apartheid.” 

United States – Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP,) Al-Haq

On November 13, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) and Al-Haq, alleging that Israel’s “mass killings,” “widespread and systematic attacks on infrastructure,” and “forced expulsion” amount to “genocide.” The NGOs demanded that the “President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense adhere to their duty to prevent, and not further, the unfolding genocide of Palestinian people in Gaza,” as well as “take all measures within their power to prevent Israel’s commission of genocidal acts against the Palestinian people of Gaza.”

The lawsuit urged the court to “issue injunctive relief enjoining Defendants from aiding, abetting, enabling or facilitating Israel’s commission of genocidal acts against the Palestinian people of Gaza, including but not limited to: Enjoin Defendants from providing, facilitating, or coordinating military assistance or financing to Israel; from initiating, acting upon, continuing, expediting, or completing sales, transfers, or delivery of weapons and arms to Israel; and from proving military equipment and personnel, advancing Israel’s commission of genocidal acts.”

CCR is an American NGO that previously filed lawfare suits against Israel and Israeli officials (including Avi Dichter and Moshe Ya’alon) that have all been dismissed at the preliminary stages; promotes anti-Israel BDS campaigns; urges the U.S. government to stop providing military aid to Israel; presents an entirely biased and distorted view of the conflict; and accuses Israel of  “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” CCR is funded by the Tides Foundation, Ford Foundation, and Open Society Foundations.

Both DCI-P and Al-Haq are tied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a terrorist group designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. On October 22, 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defense declared Al-Haq and DCI-P as “terror organizations” because they are part of “a network of organizations” that operates “on behalf of the ‘Popular Front’.”  (The PFLP participated in the brutal October 7 slaughter and is reportedly holding Israeli hostages.) 

In contrast to a credible human rights NGO, Al-Haq failed to condemn Hamas’ murder, torture, rape, hostage-taking, and dismembering corpses on October 7. Instead, on October 8, it co-signed a statement describing one of the most egregious atrocities in the past 30 years as “Palestinian armed groups engaged in an operation in response to escalating Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people” and “urge[d] the international community to take immediate and urgent action to stop Israel’s revenge and reprisal.”

Likewise, on October 8, 2023, DCI-P Advocacy Officer Miranda Cleland tweeted, “It is beyond insulting and blatantly racist to assume Palestinians resisting Israeli colonization & trying to take back their land will result in anti-Semitic attacks in DC. What a joke” (emphasis added; Cleland was sharing a statement by the Mayor of DC condemning the Hamas attacks and committing to protect the Jewish community in DC). 

Al-Haq is funded by Sweden, France, Germany, the European Union, Denmark, and Norway. DCI-P is funded by Sweden, Germany, Norway, Spain, and Belgium.

Netherlands – Oxfam Novib, Amnesty, PAX, Rights Forum

On November 14, Oxfam Novib, Amnesty International, PAX, and the Rights Forum announced they were suing the Netherlands for “continuing to export arms to Israel.” The lawsuit demanded “the immediate cessation of the supply of parts for Israeli F35 fighter planes.” According to Oxfam Novib Director Michiel Servaes, “It is almost unbelievable that these bombs are dropped thanks to Dutch military support. This has to stop. It is an unprecedented step for us to go to court, but if necessary, unfortunately there is no other option.” In a letter to Parliament, the Dutch Defense Ministry claimed that “it cannot be established that the F-35s are involved in grave violations of the humanitarian laws of war.”

On December 15, the Dutch court rejected the lawsuit, noting that the government, “‘weighed the relevant interests’ before agreeing to the delivery of parts.” It stated that the “Dutch government [has] a large degree of freedom when it comes to weighing political and policy issues in deciding on arms exports.” The NGOs said they will appeal the decision.

In addition to their efforts to block Dutch government support for Israel’s battle against Hamas, these NGOs have exploited the atrocities committed on October 7 to amplify demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish state. 

  • In multiple statements, Amnesty emphasized “the root causes” of the conflict, in particular “Israel’s system of apartheid imposed on all Palestinians.” Amnesty does not identify “root causes” on the part of any other actor, including Palestinians and terror groups. 
  • On October 9, the Rights Forum published a statement claiming, “With an attack from the Gaza Strip that was as sensational as it was brutal, the Palestinian Hamas movement caused a stir worldwide this weekend. It broke the stifling Israeli blockade that has turned Gaza into what has come to be called ‘the largest open-air prison in the world’ for 16 years.” 
  • On October 12, PAX was a signatory on a letter to the US Congress claiming that “we are reminded once again that only by addressing core systemic issues, including decades of institutionalized oppression and collective punishment of Palestinians through brutal military occupation and a 16-year Gaza blockade, will Israelis and Palestinians live in peace.” 
  • On October 10, Oxfam Novib published a statement that while “they despise what happened…I have much less understanding for people who believe that you are not allowed to talk at this time about the broader context of the illegal occupation, the blockade or the injustice that has been done to the Palestinians for decades.”

The NGOs are represented by Liesbeth Zegveld, an attorney and Rights Forum board member. In June 2017, Zegveld attempted to file a civil lawsuit in a Dutch court against former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel Air Force Commander Amir Eshel, accusing them of war crimes. In August 2023, the Dutch Supreme Court dismissed the case due to their “immunity because they were carrying out Israeli government policies.” 

Oxfam Novib is the Dutch affiliate of Oxfam international, an “international confederation of 17 organizations networked together in 92 countries.” Oxfam Novib has provided funding to a number of organizations highly biased and politicized NGOs active in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including NGOs with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Oxfam Novib is funded by the European Union, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

Amnesty is among the most active NGOs that systematically promote demonization of Israel, BDS, and antisemitism – under the facade of universal human rights. This bias and discrimination has been reflected in its promotion of artificial and manufactured definitions of apartheid, as well as extensive efforts to exclude antisemitism as a human rights concern.

PAX Netherlands is the Dutch affiliate of Pax Christi, a “Catholic peace movement” with 120 member organisations. Within the PAX umbrella, PAX Netherlands plays a leading role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including demonization and other anti-Israel campaigns. PAX is funded by the Netherlands, Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), and the Open Society Foundations

The Rights Forum is a Dutch NGO that lobbies the Dutch government and the EU to promote the Palestinian agenda, BDS, and other punitive measures against Israel. The Rights Forum was founded by former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt who has faced accusations of antisemitism since the 1970s. The Rights Forum is funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

United Kingdom

Al-Haq and Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)

On October 18, Al-Haq and GLAN sent a letter to UK Secretary of State for International Trade,

Kemi Badenoch, demanding that the UK “suspend all weapons export licences to Israel.” According to the NGOs, “British weapons found to be linked to Israel’s breaches of international law ought to have their export licences immediately suspended. The legal groups have made clear that failing to do so would result in a judicial review challenge being brought before the High Court.”

After the government refused to enact an arms embargo, Al-Haq and GLAN filed a legal action with the UK High Court, on December 6,  attempting to force a “halt [in] UK weapons sales to Israel over illegal attacks on civilians who are trapped and under siege in Gaza.” According to the NGOs, “Our 40-page submission citing 3000 pages of evidence details allegations of indiscriminate attacks on civilians, starvation, forced displacement, and the serious risk of genocide, including genocidal statements from members of the Knesset and military leaders.” In response, a UK Department for Business and Trade spokesperson stated, “The UK supports Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and take action against terrorism, provided it is within the bounds of international humanitarian law.”

On October 22, 2021, the Israeli Ministry of Defense declared Al-Haq a “terror organization” because it is part of “a network of organizations” that operates “on behalf of the ‘Popular Front’.” Al-Haq is funded by Sweden, France, Germany, the European Union, Denmark, and Norway.

International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP)

On October 14, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) sent a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warning of the NGO’s “intention to prosecute UK government officials for complicity in war crimes in Gaza.” According to the letter, “With knowledge of the crimes already committed in the days since 7 October, the UK Government must understand that this puts it on notice of further international crimes which it can be reasonably assessed will be imminently committed, and support of Israel in these actions would amount to complicity.” 

On October 16, ICJP issued three MPs a “notice of intention to prosecute UK politicians for their role in aiding and abetting Israel’s perpetration of war crimes.” According to the notice, “we put the Labour Party’s Leadership on notice that we intend to bring legal proceedings against politicians in the UK and elsewhere where there is evidence that they have aided, abetted or in any other way supported, encouraged or provided material assistance in the commission of a war crime.”

International Criminal Court (ICC) – Al-Haq, Al Mezan, PCHR

On November 8, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) filed a lawsuit with the ICC to “Consider the inclusion of crimes against humanity, notably apartheid, and the crime of genocide, in the ongoing investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine” and “Issue arrest warrants expeditiously for those suspected of these crimes within the Israeli political, military, and administrative apparatus, especially President Isaac Herzog, prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu, defence minister Yoav Gallant and others” (emphasis in original).

All three of these NGOs are linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group.

Al-Haq is funded by Sweden, France, Germany, the European Union, Denmark, and Norway. Al Mezan is funded by Sweden, European Union, and the Netherlands. PCHR is funded by Spain, Switzerland, European Union, Norway, Ireland, and UN agencies.