Since October 22, 2014, Palestinians have carried out terror attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the West Bank, killing over ten Israelis, including a three-month-old baby, and wounding dozens more. Perpetrators have deliberately rammed cars into Israeli civilians, engaged in a series of shooting and stabbing attacks, and massacred worshipers praying in a synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof.
While some NGOs unequivocally condemned the attacks, others that claim a human rights mandate did not. These groups either (a) also mentioned alleged violence and violations by Israel and Israelis, often without evidence or cause, portraying a supposed “cycle” and artificial balance; (b) blamed the Israeli government; or (c) used the attacks as a pretext to discuss other elements of the conflict, such as Palestinian prisoners or Israel’s policies in East Jerusalem.
- Israeli NGO Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) published a November 18, 2014 statement unequivocally condemning the attack. B’Tselem also condemned the attack (Nov. 18), but issued numerous statements in the days and weeks prior that appeared to explain away, if not justify, continuing violence against Israelis, including a November 17 tweet: “#EastJerusalem violence fuelled by land grabs.”
- Human Rights Watch (HRW) opened its statement (Nov. 19) by noting the illegal and unjustifiable nature of the synagogue attack, the focus immediately shifted to Israel: “The Israeli response to this attack should be limited to those responsible and adhere to the rule of law.” HRW then discussed the other terror attacks, albeit in a highly misleading and at times factually incorrect manner. For instance, after listing the attacks, HRW states, “Israeli forces later killed several suspected attackers,” without noting that with one exception, the terrorists were killed while carrying out their attacks. HRW also repeated the conspiracy theory that a Palestinian bus driver who had committed suicide may have been murdered.
- HRW’s Middle East division director Sarah Leah Whitson posted a November 19 message on Twitter weakly condemning the synagogue murders as “unlawful.” In contrast, on November 22, she labeled Israeli responses to terror, namely demolishing homes of the attackers, as “despicable, medieval” and Israel guilty of “war crimes.” (See also “Human Rights Watch: Patronizingly Minimizing Palestinian Crimes,” November 23, 2014)
- NGOs that regularly and frequently condemn Israel for alleged violations of Palestinian rights failed to issue statements on the wave of Palestinian terror, including Adalah, Al-Mezan, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), Christian Aid, War on Want, and Oxfam International. Al Haq and Addameer – NGOs with alleged ties to the PFLP, the terrorist organization that took credit for the synagogue murders – were also silent.
- NGOs including Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) issued statements blaming Israel for the attacks. For example, JVP justified the murders (Nov. 18), attributing them to Israeli “incitement and “collective punishment” and claiming that Israeli’s “continual system of occupation, dispossession, and discrimination against Palestinians by its very nature puts the lives and dignity of all people in Israel and Palestine in jeopardy.”
- Israeli NGO Coalition of Women for Peace (CWP) erased the terror completely, posting a Facebook message (Nov. 18) on the evening of the Jerusalem synagogue attack promoting a film festival about “nakba and return”: “Today and every day the Nakba is ongoing. The processes of expropriation, expulsion and banishment do not stop for a moment” (translated from the original Hebrew by NGO Monitor).
The following are excerpts from NGO statements, press releases, and social media posts.
Blaming Israel for attacks
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace Statement on the Escalating Situation in Jerusalem; November 18, 2014
Jewish Voice for Peace is deeply alarmed at the crisis building in Jerusalem over the last several weeks as terrible violence mounts. We mourn all the lives that have been lost, both Palestinian and Israeli. Early this morning, four Jews at prayer were brutally murdered in a Jerusalem synagogue and on Sunday a Palestinian bus driver was likely lynched.
We call on the Israeli government and its supporters to cease further calls to incitement and collective punishment. The international community must bring pressure to bear on the root causes of ongoing violence. Israel’s continual system of occupation, dispossession, and discrimination against Palestinians by its very nature puts the lives and dignity of all people in Israel and Palestine in jeopardy. The Israeli government continues to escalate state violence against Palestinians, as well as enabling increasingly aggressive actions of settlers.
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
Israel Sows Despair and Senseless Violence (press release; November 19, 2014)
And the “Zionist answer” to the downward cycle of senseless violence in which Jerusalem finds itself: house demolitions, mass arrests, revoking the “residency” of native-born Jerusalemites, closing Palestinian neighborhoods with concrete blocks, arming Israeli Jewish vigilantes and cheap shots at the last person who believes in a two-state solution, Abu Mazen. Everything, that is, except an end to occupation and a just political solution. This is what happens when a powerful country forgoes any effort to address the grievances of a people under its control and descends into raw oppression.
Israel, having given up all pretense of seeking a just solution, has answered Palestinian despair with pure, atavistic repression.
In the meantime, the people suffer and hatred prevails, stoked by the only party strong enough to end it all, the Occupying Power, Israel
Hebrew Facebook; November 18, 2014 (translated from Hebrew by NGO Monitor):
The tragic events of this morning cannot be separated from the chain of events of the last few days: Two days ago, a body of a Palestinian bus driver, Yosuf Ramoni, a 32 year old father of two, was found hanged in a bus inside the Har Hotzvim bus terminal. The police claimed that he had committed suicide, while the Palestinians claim he was murdered by Jews…
This isn’t the first case that Israel ignores Palestinian pathology reports. This past week a border policeman was arrested as a suspect for murder, after on Nakba day, during clashes between security forced and Palestinians in Beitunia, he allegedly killed a young Palestinian with live fire…
Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-I)
Hebrew Facebook statement; November 18, 2014 (translated from Hebrew by NGO Monitor)
… once again the conflict is taking the lives of civilians in a terrible and cruel routine. This morning four Israelis were killed at a synagogue in Har Nof. Last week 5 Israelis were killed in Israel and the West Bank. Data for 2014 indicated that until November 10, forty-five Palestinians were killed by security forces and that the number of wounded is an average of 112 a week– a sharp increase from 2013. The pain of the families and the suffering of the wounded demands a dramatic change.
The government of Israel promises revenge and punishment, and this will assuredly make the violence continue. We reject revenge as a policy, and to do not believe the reigning paradigm that we are in this situation without a choice. If we want to live in dignity and freedom we must believe that there is more than one way and that there is always a choice. We need to do what is within our reach, to put out the flames of incitement and racism and realize that freedom is not a gift, but a basic condition for ending the violence.
Hebrew facebook statement; November 11, 2014 (translated from Hebrew by NGO Monitor)
Yesterday two Israelis were murdered, Dalia Lemkus (26) at a bus stop in Gush Ezion and Almog Shiloni near the Hagan train station in Tel Aviv. Two days ago, Khair a-Din Hamadan was shot to death by police in Kfar Qana.
We should not view these violent incidents as separate from the broad political reality. The Israeli public is consistently dumbfounded when trying to understand the source of the violent outbreaks. However, the roots of this violence is in the long years of discrimination and oppression, in the deadly war that the government led in Gaza (which claimed the lives of 2200 Palestinians and 72 Israelis), in the land expropriations, the arrest of activists in the West Bank and in the ongoing Israeli occupation and expansion of Jewish settlements.
As long as the Israeli occupation continues to be the Israeli government’s method of operation and oppression in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, these violent outbursts will not disappear and will continue to dictate the reality in Israel and Palestine.
English facebook statement; October 26, 2014
Israeli policy toward the Palestinian community in Jerusalem is defined at best by neglect and at worst by systemic abuse.
East Jerusalem was occupied and annexed by Israel in 1967, and its Palestinian residents have since been treated as second-class citizens. Accordingly, if the purpose of the police presence in West Jerusalem is to protect that community, then in East Jerusalem it is the opposite: to suppress them. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are subject to frequent raids and arrests. In communities where there is resistance to oppression, children are also arrested and imprisoned. Life is continuously governed and restricted by the Israeli authorities in a variety of ways.
Oppression of Palestinians in Jerusalem by Israel also takes the form of persistent violence against the city’s residents. This painful reality is apparent with each new victim, and we argue there must be a policy response to the hostile environment that results in these injuries and deaths. The only way to prevent future murders and attacks is to end the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli authorities and the Jerusalem municipality.
Breaking the Silence
Facebook; November 12, 2014
More than 10 Israelis and Palestinians have lost their lives this week in countless violent and fatal incidents. Despite this the Israeli government continues to fan the flames of hatred and fear.
We served in the Second Intifada. We don’t want to serve in the Third Intifada. Government of Israel – stop sending us to perpetuate the cycle of violence!
Facebook; November 18, 2014 (translated from Hebrew by NGO Monitor)
“Instead of bringing quiet and calm, the government busy in fueling the ground ! Don’t sent us to another Intifada, two have been enough!”.
Attempting to create artificial balance and moral equivalence
Israel/OPT: Killing of worshippers at synagogue an ‘abhorrent attack’; November 18, 2014
Armed men who attacked worshippers at a synagogue in West Jerusalem killing four Israelis and injuring eight this morning have displayed an utter contempt for fundamental principles of humanity, said Amnesty International.
The killing is the deadliest attack on civilians to occur in Jerusalem in six years…
“Punishing the families of suspects by destroying their homes is collective punishment and is prohibited by international law. Tensions across the West Bank have been at fever pitch following the conflict in Gaza this summer. Authorities must not trample over the rights of Palestinians through collective punishments and other heavy-handed measures in order to restore security,” said Philip Luther.
There has also been a spate of unlawful killings of Palestinians during demonstrations by police when their lives were not in danger, while Israeli settlers have carried out attacks on Palestinians harvesting their olives.
Human Rights Watch
Israel/ Palestine: 5 Dead in Synagogue Attack; statement; November 19, 2014
There can be no justification for the unlawful attack on a West Jerusalem synagogue on the morning of November 18, 2014. The attack killed five civilians and wounded at least six others. The Israeli response to this attack should be limited to those responsible and adhere to the rule of law.
…Israel should not respond to attacks on its citizens using methods that constitute collective punishment or violate due process rights, Human Rights Watch said.
Israel has also used what appears to be excessive or unnecessary force in response to Palestinian protests, wounding 454 Palestinians from October 28 to November 10, mostly in East Jerusalem, according to UN data.
Breaking: Ten members from the Abu Jamal family arrested in Jerusalem; press release; November 18, 2014
Following this morning’s events in a Jerusalem synagogue, the Israeli Occupation Forces have just arrested ten family members of martyrs Oday and Ghassan Abu Jamal from their homes in Jabal Al Mukabir in south east Jerusalem.
Five killed in attack on Jerusalem synagogue; November 18, 2014
Two Palestinian men murdered four Jewish worshippers with a meat cleaver, knives and a pistol in a gruesome attack at a synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem Tuesday morning. Eight others were wounded, four seriously. The two attackers were shot dead by Israeli police in a firefight at the scene.
Update: A police officer succumbed to his wounds late Tuesday night, bringing the death toll to five.
…The attack against the synagogue came a day after a Palestinian bus driver was found hanged inside his bus. Israeli authorities ruled his death a suicide but Palestinians officials and media contend he was murdered by Israelis.
Jerusalem: Against the dying of the light; November 19, 2014
… Aside from the most recent cycle of ruination in Gaza, nowhere is this methodology currently more evident than in Jerusalem. The city – particularly the East – is under a series of slow-burning sieges that are gradually reaching the end of their fuse: official government settlement plans; unofficial settler takeovers of Palestinian property; the entire ethos of Elad, Ateret Cohanim, the Temple Mount movement and their ilk; street-level thuggery perpetrated by fascist groups such as Lehava; house demolitions; racist vandalism; night-time round-ups and arrests, including of children.
The worsening collective punishment of East Jerusalem Palestinians – such as the spraying of ‘skunk’ water at a number of schools last week – and the shooting of two pre-teen Palestinians in the head, on consecutive days, typify the seeming increasing lack of control among Israeli security forces in the city. Most recently, the smoldering situation took a drastic turn with the murder of four Jewish Israelis at prayer in a West Jerusalem synagogue, by two Palestinians from the city’s East…
Condemning the Attacks, although blaming both sides
World Council of Churches
WCC condemns attack on worshippers at Jerusalem synagogue; 18 November 2014
The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed concern and sadness over the attack on a synagogue in west Jerusalem on Tuesday 18 November. The incident has resulted in the killing of four Jewish worshippers, and the injury of others.
“…Violence, collective punishments and communal attacks can only further damage the prospects of peace and justice for all,” said Tveit in his statement issued from the WCC headquarters in Geneva on 18 November.
“There has been too much prevarication, postponement and obstruction: all parties and powers need to work proactively to find a solution which will meet the demands of justice and the hopes of all people of good faith,” he stressed.
“The frustration over the failing peace processes, as well as the increasing settlements and continued occupation, will require new initiatives that can overcome the obstacles to peace and build trust in a common future,” Tveit concluded.
Association for Civil Rights in Israel
“Today our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this morning’s brutal terrorist attack at the synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. We hope for a speedy and complete recovery for all of the wounded.
The cycle of bloodshed is continuing to cast a pall of fear and terror on all residents of Jerusalem – both in the East and the West. The right to life and the physical integrity of each person is the most sacred of all human rights, and protecting this right is a condition for the existence of a humane society.”
Breaking the Silence
“This morning began with yet another painful headline about more innocent victims of the wave of violence flooding the region in the last few weeks.
Today we continue to call upon our government to put an end to the incitement and these ongoing rounds of violence, to spare further victims on both sides.”
Four Israelis killed in attack in Jerusalem synagogue (press release; November 18, 2014)
“B’Tselem is shocked and abhorred by this morning’s ??attack, in which Palestinians killed Jewish worshippers at the Bnei Torah Synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof. We extend our condolences to the families of the people killed and convey our wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded.
B’Tselem strongly condemns any and all intentional assaults against Israeli or Palestinian civilians and reiterates its call to politicians and leaders to act responsibly and avoid fanning the flames of violence.”
Facebook; November 16, 2014
The demolition of the homes of the families of Palestinians who carried out attacks against Israelis constitutes a moral and legal low point. It is an instance of collective punishment, a measure that contradicts the basic tenet whereby punishment must be meted out to the perpetrators of a crime, not their family or anyone else. In rendering women, children and the elderly homeless, home demolitions harm people who are not even suspected of any connection to the crime. Even if the Israeli security establishment chooses to disregard considerations of morality and legality, the military ought to heed its own committee.
Facebook; October 27, 2014
B’Tselem expresses deep sorrow over the death of Karen Yemima Muskara, 20, who succumbed to her wounds yesterday, after she was injured in the car attack in Jerusalem last week, and sends its condolences to her family. B’Tselem once again condemns any and all attack against Israeli and Palestinian civilians and calls upon politicians and leaders to act responsibly and avoid fanning the flames of violence.
Facebook; October 23, 2014
Baby killed, 7 hurt in Jerusalem car attack
B’Tselem sends deep condolences to the family of 3-month-old Haya Zissel-Brown, who was killed yesterday in a run-over attack by a Palestinian driver in Jerusalem, and wishes a speedy recovery to the persons injured in the attack.
We condemn any and all intentional harm to Israeli and Palestinian civilians and call upon politicians and leaders on both sides to act responsibly and avoid fanning the flames of violence.
Rabbis for Human Rights
RHR condemns the November 18th terrorist attack on a Jerusalem synagogue (Website statement; November 18, 2014)
Rabbis for Human Rights expresses their deep shock at the attack on a synagogue today in Har Nof, Jerusalem. We share in the grief of the families of the dead and pray for the full recovery of the wounded. We consider these criminal acts as blasphemy and contempt against the Divine Image. We demand that all leaders in the region take responsibility and act in order to extinguish the flames of hatred and violence burning across the country in general and in the city of Jerusalem in particular.
— Also posted on Facebook
Facebook; October 23
RHR is shocked by and condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack yesterday in Jerusalem. We mourn the unimaginable loss of Chaya Zissel Braun, the 3 month old baby girl murdered in this horrific event. Our deepest prayers are with her family during this tragic time, and we wish for the refuah shelma (full recovery) of all those injured. Attacks against civilians are egregious crimes.