Due to an editorial error, a version of this report was posted including information that was intended to be part of a separate report. We have now removed that information. We regret the error.
On October 7, 2023 (which was the Sabbath and a Jewish holiday), hundreds of Palestinian terrorists poured across the border from Gaza into Israel, slaughtering hundreds of Jews, and torturing, maiming, and kidnapping others. Gaza Palestinians also engaged in public desecration of victims’ bodies. In parallel, thousands of rockets were fired at Israeli population centers, sending millions rushing to shelters.
Every one of these attacks constitutes a blatant violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws, which should have brought immediate condemnation from the human rights community.
Instead, NGOs that routinely and forcefully condemn Israel blamed the victims, whitewashed the terrorists, and exploited the attacks to repeat the campaign accusing Israel of “apartheid” and other lies. Amnesty International declared, “The Israeli government must refrain from inciting violence and tensions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, especially around religious sites.” As of October 8 at 4pm (Israel time), Human Rights Watch had not issued a statement, but, in posts on social media (X/Twitter), a senior official referred to the attacks as “resistance to apartheid and oppression” and bashed the United States for its policies toward Israel and in the region.
Save the Children published an anodyne statement, absurdly calling the situation an “escalation in violence between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces in Israel and Gaza.” Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) did not condemn Hamas, including the numerous attacks on Israeli first responders and hospitals, but rather accused Israel of having “struck” a hospital and ambulance in Gaza.
In addition, a number of NGOs claiming to promote human rights actually supported the attacks. The US-based Center for Constitutional Rights posted a statement titled “Israeli Colonial Domination Is Necessary Context to Palestinian Resistance.” Masar Badil and Samidoun, two NGOs linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group, called on people around the world to “support” and “defend” the Palestinian “resistance”; the latter’s branch in Germany distributed candies to celebrate the attacks.
In a joint statement, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – PFLP-linked NGOs that are funded by the European Union, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, and the United Nations– demonstrated that their claim to promote human rights is a cynical joke. Rather than condemn the Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians, the NGOs claimed that “Palestinian armed groups engaged in an operation in response to escalating Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people” and then devoted their entire statement to Israel’s alleged “revenge and reprisal[s].” (Notably, in the context of the May 2023 conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), PCHR published a statement in which it “affirms the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation by all available means, including armed struggle”; following pressure from European donors, PCHR altered the text to read: “to resist the occupation by all legitimate means in accordance with international law.”)
Excerpts of Statements from International NGOs
- No statements or tweet by the organization, as of October 8, 4pm Israel time
- Tweets by HRW Program Director Sari Bashi
- Tweet by former HRW Executive Director Ken Roth
- On October 7, Amnesty published a press release claiming that “The root causes of these repeated cycles of violence must be addressed as a matter of urgency. This requires upholding international law and ending Israel’s 16-year-long illegal blockade on Gaza, and all other aspects of Israel’s system of apartheid imposed on all Palestinians. The Israeli government must refrain from inciting violence and tensions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, especially around religious sites. Amnesty International calls on the international community to urgently intervene to protect civilians and prevent further suffering. In 2021, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine. Its mandate includes crimes under international law committed by all parties in the current fighting, as well as the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians.”
- On October 7, Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard published a thread on X (formerly Twitter):
- On October 7, in a press release published by Oxfam, Acting Country Director in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel Mustafa Tmaizi stated, “Oxfam strongly urges all parties to immediately cease all military offensives and maintain restraint to prevent further escalation of violence that will only harm innocent civilians on both sides. This surge in military escalation underscores the persistent failure of leaders to address the prolonged occupation and Gaza blockade with no meaningful measures taken.”
- On October 7, Save the Children’s Country Director for the occupied Palestinian territory Jason Lee published a statement that, “Following an escalation in violence between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces in Israel and Gaza today, our teams and their families are bracing for what comes next. We know from previous experience that children will be terrified. Children have been killed and injured in every major escalation, not to mention suffering from serious mental health impacts—they’ve never emerged unscathed. All parties must show restraint and focus on keeping children and families safe and bringing an end to the fear and suffering they have endured for far too long.”
- On October 7, NRC Palestine Country director Ana Povrzenic published a statement affirming that “All parties must adhere to international humanitarian law by refraining from deliberately or indiscriminately targeting civilians. They must abide by the principles of humanitarian law. “The only path towards stability and peace is for the international community to finally address the root causes of the conflict including ending the occupation of Palestinian territory. We are monitoring the humanitarian impact and preparing to support those in need of humanitarian assistance.”
- On October 7, MSF tweeted, “Following the escalation between Israel and Gaza, Israeli forces struck the enclave’s Indonesian hospital and an ambulance in front of Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza. The strikes killed one nurse, one ambulance driver, injured several and damaged an oxygen station…We have been supporting both hospitals since 2021 and 2011 respectively. Health care facilities cannot become targets. We ask all parties to respect health infrastructures, which must remain a sanctuary for people seeking treatment…The scale of this new round of hostilities must not be underestimated, with Palestinian and Israeli authorities reporting massive casualties all over Israel and Gaza.”
- On October 7, Samidoun published a press release declaring that the “Resistance Rises toward Revolution, Return and Liberation.” According to the press release, “As the Palestinian resistance confronts occupation forces, it is critical that internationalists everywhere speak out, mobilize and act to confront the U.S.-led imperialist system, including the EU states, Britain and all complicit powers to end their ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people, and to defend the resistance. These crimes are reflected not only in the Balfour Declaration and the $3.8 billion in U.S. military aid to the occupation regime annually, but in the racist assaults on the Palestinian people in exile and diaspora throughout Europe, and especially in Germany, for speaking out and organizing to take up their role in the cause, for their return to Palestine and the liberation of their land.”
- On October 7, Samidoun Deutschland tweeted, “Long live the resistance of the Palestinian people. Distributing sweets on Sonnenallee in Berlin to celebrate the victory of the resistance.”
- On October 7, Samidoun Deutschland were “handing out sweets and expressing joy for the terrorist attack by Hamas and the murder of Israelis.”
Al-Haq/Al Mezan/Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) (PFLP linked, Funded by the EU and individual governments)
- On October 8, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and PCHR published a joint statement calling for “Immediate Action from the International Community to Stop Israel’s Reprisals against Palestinian Civilians.” According to the statement, “On Saturday, 7 October 2023, Palestinian armed groups engaged in an operation in response to escalating Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people…Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) urge the international community to take immediate and urgent action to stop Israel’s revenge and reprisal against Gaza’s civilian population and civilian objects. The latest statements by the Israeli establishment quoted above portend an unprecedented number of killings, with civilians bearing the brunt. Accountability is the key to ending Israeli crimes, with Third States sharing responsibility for its consequences. We call on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to expedite the investigation into the Situation in Palestine with full resources and onsite visits as promised in December 2022. We stress that if no immediate action is taken by the international community to hold Israel accountable for the international crimes committed against the Palestinian people, more civilian casualties will follow, and destruction will continue to take place. To this end, we call upon the UN Security Council, Third States, and UN Member States to immediately intervene with all necessary means to cease Israel’s attacks against the Palestinian people, and to impose sanctions and an arms embargo on Israel. In line with international obligations, the international community must cooperate to bring Israel’s illegal occupation as a continuing act of aggression since 1967 to an end; ensure the dismantling of the occupying administration and the full and unconditional withdrawal of all Israeli occupying forces from the territory, and the dismantling Israel’s apartheid regime.”
- On October 7, Masar Badil published a press release calling on “organizations and supporters, the masses of our Palestinian people, supporters of the resistance in exile and diaspora, allies from the liberation forces and movements, and solidarity committees with the Palestinian people everywhere, to express their support for the heroic Palestinian resistance, raise the flag of Palestine and the banners of resistance, and organize popular, political and media demonstrations and events to expose the Zionist crimes against our people in occupied Palestine, and to support the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation announced by the Commander-in-Chief of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Brother Mohammed al-Deif.”
- On October 7, JVP published a press release claiming “The Root of Violence Is Oppression.” According to the press release, “The Israeli government may have just declared war, but its war on Palestinians started over 75 years ago. Israeli apartheid and occupation — and United States complicity in that oppression — are the source of all this violence. Reality is shaped by when you start the clock. For 16 years, the Israeli government has suffocated Palestinians in Gaza under a draconian air, sea and land military blockade, imprisoning and starving two million people and denying them medical aid. The Israeli government routinely massacres Palestinians in Gaza; ten-year-olds who live in Gaza have already been traumatized by seven major bombing campaigns in their short lives. For 75 years, the Israeli government has maintained a military occupation over Palestinians, operating an apartheid regime. Palestinian children are dragged from their beds in pre-dawn raids by Israeli soldiers and held without charge in Israeli military prisons. Palestinians homes are torched by mobs of Israeli settlers, or destroyed by the Israeli army. Entire Palestinian villages are forced to flee, abandoning the homes and orchards and land that were in their family for generations.”
- On October 7, CCR published a press release claiming “Israeli Colonial Domination Is Necessary Context to Palestinian Resistance.” According to the press release, “The Center for Constitutional Rights stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their decades-long struggle for self-determination and freedom from Israel’s regime of apartheid and prolonged belligerent military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Israel’s brutal 16-year closure of Gaza has suffocated the two million Palestinians imprisoned there, while Israel has repeatedly launched military assaults that have killed thousands of civilians and injured tens of thousands more. Israeli colonization of historic Palestine gives rise to the international legal right of colonized people to resist colonial domination and to pursue national liberation and self-determination. Under international law, armed groups, such as Palestinian resistance fighters, can lawfully carry out attacks on military targets. Israel, with the full support of the United States and much of the international community, has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, resulting in the profound erosion of international norms and the necessary protections for occupied people and civilians. We echo demands for accountability and reaffirm our commitment to dismantling all forms of colonialism.”
- On October 7, USCMO published a press release claiming that “The United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) reaffirms its unwavering support for the Palestinian people and their right to freedom from the Israeli occupation. The recent unprovoked and continuous attacks by Israel on Palestinian towns, cities, and refugee camps have resulted in tragic loss of Palestinian lives. We condemn Israel’s targeted and indiscriminate killing of civilians, including innocent children, women, and the elderly, and we denounce the inhumane siege imposed on the nearly 2 million inhabitants of Gaza, a clear violation of international law and an implied declaration of open war on the Palestinians which oblige them to be in constant self-defense.”
- On October 9, PSC will “take to the streets to demand Israel end its violent imposition of a system of occupation, apartheid and colonisation over the Palestinian people.” According to PSC, “The offensive launched from Gaza can only be understood in the context of Israel’s ongoing, decades long, military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and imposition of a system of oppression that meets the legal definition of apartheid. This is the context in which we need to understand the cycle of violence. If violence is to end, both that of the oppressor and the oppressed, then we must all take action to end the root cause – Israeli apartheid and oppression of Palestinians.”