On July 23, 2014, the UN Human Rights Council met to consider the creation of a “fact-finding” commission to investigate alleged Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza. This parallels the genesis of the discredited Goldstone Report, which emerged from a UN “fact-finding” mission of the 2008-9 Gaza conflict.

As with the Goldstone process, a network of powerful political advocacy NGOs claiming to promote human rights, including a number of Israeli groups, have been active in campaigning for a UN “investigation” into the current conflict. Israeli NGOs repeat unsupported allegations of “deliberate, systematic, and widespread targeting of Palestinian civilians”; “collective punishment”; “war crimes and crimes against humanity”; “grave violations of international humanitarian law,” and similar claims. Such allegations are central in efforts to justify international intervention and unprofessional UN reports.

The influence of these Israeli NGOs – such as Adalah, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), B’Tselem, Gisha, Hamoked, Machsom Watch, Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-I), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Rabbis for Human Rights, Yesh Din – is the direct result of the funding they receive from European government and private donors such as George Soros and the New Israel Fund (NIF).

These NGOs played a major role in the 2009 Goldstone process and report. As documented in NGO Monitor reports, Israeli NGOs:

  • participated in a NGO “town hall meeting” to set the agenda for Goldstone’s investigation;
  • submitted a written statement ignoring Hamas crimes, but alleging “human rights violations for which Israel must be held accountable”;
  • testified before the Goldstone mission and submitted multiple reports and other “evidence”;
  • B’Tselem “provided assistance to the investigative staff of the Goldstone mission from the beginning to the end of its research”;
  • lobbied foreign governments, including the EU and the U.S., to adopt Goldstone’s skewed conclusions;
  • appeared before biased UN Human Rights Council proceedings in support of the Goldstone report.

NGO Monitor will continue to report on and analyze the role of the NGO network, including Israeli groups, and the responsibility of their funders regarding this issue.

Excerpts from statements by Israeli NGOs

Adalah, Mossawa, Mada al-Carmel, Baladna, I’lam, Al Tufula Center, The Association for the Defence for the Right of the Internally Displaced in Israel, Aswat, Galilee Society, Hamleh, Kayan, The Regional Council for the Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Women Against Violence

Joint NGO Written Statement to the UN Human Rights Council, “Gross Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Violations and Suspicions of War Crimes in Gaza,” July 22, 2014

“We call on the UN Human Rights Council to…(2) Condemn the deliberate, systematic and widespread targeting of Palestinian civilians and civilian objects in Gaza, including family homes, medical facilities, mosques, among others, as well as attacks on the water supply that constitute a grave humanitarian danger to the entire population; … (6) Establish an independent, international commission of inquiry, with the mandate to identify and investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed within the context of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip….; (7) Follow-up and monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2008-2009.”

Adalah, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), B’Tselem, Gisha, Hamoked, Machsom Watch, Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-I), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Rabbis for Human Rights, Yesh Din

Press release: “10 Human Rights Organizations in an Urgent Letter to Attorney General: Concerns Regarding Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law in the IDF’s Operations in Gaza,” July 21, 2014

Public letter to Attorney General: “Offensive policy in Gaza in Operation Protective Edge,” July 21, 2014

“The reports and data which have accumulated thus far regarding the nature of the strikes and the level of injury to noncombatant civilians as a result of these strikes raise serious concern of severe violations of international humanitarian law, and specifically the laws of war….…All of the incidents listed in this letter, and others not mentioned, require detailed and separate examinations to determine whether they violated the laws of war. However, the aggregate picture of the incidents, in our opinion, requires an urgent examination of the suspected violations of the laws of war at the level of offensive policy and the rules of engagement.

Adalah, Press release: “Adalah demands investigations into suspected war crimes in the Gaza Strip,” July 18, 2014

“This past week, Adalah sent a series of urgent letters to Israeli military and legal authorities, including the Minister of Defense, the Military Advocate General (MAG) and the Attorney General, urging them to immediately open investigations into alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.”

Adalah, Mossawa, Kayan, I’lam, Baladna, Arab Association for Human Rights, Mada al-Carmel, Women Against Violence, Galilee Society, Arab Cultural Association, Hirakuna, AlZahraa Organization for the Advancement of Women, Al Qaws

Palestinian civil society in Israel demands urgent action on Gaza,” July 14, 2014

“We, the undersigned organizations, express extreme concern at the rapidly deteriorating situation within the Gaza Strip and urge the international community to take immediate action to halt the deadly aggression being waged against Palestinian civilians in Gaza. We also urge the UN to initiate a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. …. We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemn Israel’s unlawful targeting of civilians, civilian areas, and civilian property, which is illegal under international law and amounts to collective punishment…. We call on the international community to monitor closely the recent escalation of attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip, and to raise concerns of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity based on the Rome Statute. We also urge the UN to initiate a fact-finding mission to investigate these events. We further encourage you to keep in contact with the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations in Israel for information, assistance, materials or advice on the above.”