Human Rights Watch – Blaming Israel, Ignoring Hamas


Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report on October 23, 2007 which accused Israel of blocking medical evacuations from Gaza, "collective punishment" and violations of "international law," (no definitions were provided for these terms). The report quotes Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East division director, who claims that “Israel is punishing sick civilians as a way to hurt Hamas," and asserts that "Israel remains the occupying power in Gaza despite disengagement" – a position that is strongly disputed.  The report briefly mentions Israel’s "legitimate security concerns" and cites the Supreme Court’s support for the government’s distinction between life threatening and "quality of life" cases, but dismisses these issues with brief anecdotes.  In contrast, the accompanying "photo essay" further demonizes Israel, with pictures of ill Palestinians and captions that hold Israel responsible. HRW ignores reports that Hamas is intentionally creating a humanitarian crisis, particularly with regard to medical supplies, and omits any mention of Hamas’ use of hospitals and residential buildings to mount attacks against its rival Fatah.


In addition, HRW published reports during October 2007 condemning governmental human rights abuses and calling for the release of dissidents in both Iran and Syria. HRW representatives also met with members of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC on October 3, 2007 — a welcome recognition by HRW of the serious human rights abuses in other Middle Eastern countries.