The 38th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (June 18 – July 6, 2018) continued the bias and hypocrisy that has come to define the UN in general and the UNHRC in particular. NGO Monitor staff was present, speaking before the Council and documenting the numerous false accusations from member states and NGOs.

The following report highlights the most egregious examples of statements made during the session. During side events, NGOs, many of which receive large portions of their funding from European governments, and Palestinian Authority officials made highly inflammatory and false allegations, some bordering on blood libels, against Israel.

In addition to these NGOs and Palestinian officials, representatives from international organizations such as the UN and the WHO actively participated, thus bolstering this inflammatory propaganda. UN Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk, a serial offender, spoke (via video link) at two of such events, where he called for Israel’s membership to the UN to be suspended. It is immoral and a violation of UN and professional standards (that require the principles of neutrality, impartiality, independence, and humanity) for such officials to participate in these events.

Item 7

UNHRC Permanent Agenda Item 7, purporting to address Israeli human rights violations, is the only agenda item targeting a single country. The failure to repeal Item 7 was a major factor in the United States’ decision to leave. In addition, numerous Western countries boycotted the debate.

A central theme of the Item 7 debate was the discriminatory database of companies doing business over the 1949 Armistice line that is being prepared by the Council’s bureaucratic arm – the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The purpose of the list is to bolster BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns against Israel.

As opposed to the Western democracies that stayed away, NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Defense for Children International (DCI), and Palestinian groups – echoed the rhetoric of the “vital importance of item 7” promoted by the dictatorships on the Council. For example, HRW accused Israel of committing war crimes and advocated for the discriminatory database. DCI read a statement citing misleading statistics from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)-linked Defense for Children International – Palestine’s (DCI-P).

Side Events Featuring Terror-linked NGOs

On the sidelines of the UNHRC session, Palestinian NGOs and the Palestinian Authority (PA) hosted highly inflammatory events about the violence along the Israel-Gaza border. The accusations of Israeli wrongdoing went far beyond anything featured in mainstream media. Notably, three of the NGOs that spoke at and/or hosted events – Addameer, Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), and Al-Haq – have close ties to Palestinian terror groups. While the NGOs funding information is not transparent, NGO Monitor has identified direct and indirect funding to Al-Haq and Addameer from European governments, including 2014-2017 grants from Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands via the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (Secretariat).

“The Great Return March: Marching for Dignity and Rights in the Gaza Strip”

Date: July 2, 2018

Hosts: Al-Haq, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), BADIL, and Al Mezan

Speakers and Statements:

  • David Deutch, Addameer (funded by the Secretariat, Ireland (Irish Aid), Norway, Christian Aid, (UK), among others).
    • People in Gaza “simply have a choice of dying slowly inside or asserting their humanity and dying at the hands of snipers on the hills.”
  • Rania Muhareb, Legal Researcher, Al-Haq (received funding from the Secretariat and is part of a German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development project).
    • Argued that it is not in anyone’s interest to tolerate Israeli violations and war crimes and that it is “not good for Israel.”
  • Issam Younis, Director, Al Mezan (funded by the Secretariat, Norway, Medico International (Germany), Open Society Foundations, among others)
    • Stated that there is no way for victims to pursue justice through the system and that the only way is through international mechanisms. He furthered that the ICC is the mechanism that should look into violations.
  • Rania Madi, UN Legal Advocacy Representative, BADIL (moderated event) (received funding from the Secretariat, DanChurchAid (Denmark), and Trocaire (Ireland).
    • In response to a question regarding the fact that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad had claimed the majority of those killed as their own combatants, Madi claimed, “people under occupation have the right to use all measures to end occupation, even using arms” (emphasis added).

“Administrative Detention: A Clear Violation of the International Law by the Israeli Occupation”

Date: July 2, 2018

Host: Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine

Speakers and Statements:

  • Issa Qaraqe, Minister, Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs
    • Accused Israel of “practicing arbitrary detention and resorting to this measure as means of arbitrary punishment and discrimination.”
    • Claimed that “administrative detention is not compatible with international law” and that it should “no longer be valid.”
    • Alleged that Khalida Jarrar, former vice-chairperson for Addameer, is being held in administrative detention for “political activity.” Jarrar, a senior PFLP official, has previously been indicted for various offenses including active membership in a terrorist organization (the PFLP) and inciting violence through a call to kidnap Israeli soldiers to be used as “bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian prisoners.”
    • Referred to Hasan Yousef spending 14 years in prison and 7 in administrative detention. Hasan Yousef is a senior Hamas official.
  • Janique Thoele, Legal Advisor, OHCHR (Ramallah Office)
    • Explained that administrative detention is “not prohibited by international law per se but only permitted in exceptional circumstances.”
    • Referred to alleged psychological ill treatment stemming from administrative detention.
    • Called for all individuals in administrative detention to be promptly charged or released.
  • Jawad Boulus, Lawyer, Director of Legal Unit, Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs
    • Referred to the psychological effects on administrative detainees.
    • Argued that international law “has to be implemented” and that “international law is subjected to double standards.”
  • Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the “situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967”
    • Started his presentation by stating that it “would have been a pleasure to share the space and stage with such distinguished speakers.”
    • Stated that “international law permits administrative detention in strict circumstances and only as a last resort.”
    • Quoted extensively from The Wall and the Gate, a book by NGO attorney Michael Sfard.

It is highly improper that UN officials participated in and provided a UN-imprimatur to this propaganda event.

“Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Systematic Violations with Impunity”

Date: July 3, 2018

Hosts: International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD),, Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ), Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights, the Arab Lawyers Association-UK, and the Brussels Tribunal 

Speakers and Statements:

  • Aroub Soubh, “TV programs presenter” and “official Media Spokesperson for the Jordanian coalition, My Nationality is the Right of My Family, and Consultant at the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor”
    • Gave a presentation titled “The Blockade of Gaza as a Form of Apartheid.”
    • Claimed that “Palestinians need permission in the West Bank to travel from one town to another.”
    • Accused Israel of destroying schools and hospitals in Gaza.
    • Referred to Israel as a “restless apartheid regime.”
    • Called for an end to the blockade of Gaza, compensation for those affected by the blockade, ending all forms of “apartheid practices,” and for refugees to return to their homes.
  • Daniela Donges, “Civil peace worker in Palestine, a former member of GICJ and expert on Palestine. She is now working on the ground and following the situation closely.”
    • Utilized “the map that lies” in her slideshow of a “shrinking Palestine”.
    • Stated that under Israeli law “incitement can be punishable but what is incitement? It is hard to define” (emphasis added).
    • Decried Israel’s NGO transparency laws, stating that NGOs “have to reveal funds because the aim is to cut funds coming from the EU.”
    • Called out NGO Monitor’s speech before the Council (condescendingly and offensively referring to our staffer as a “girl”), which highlighted virulently antisemitic incidents and remarks committed by the PA and programs it supports. She stated that “I was in the Council today for Item 9 and one girl was talking on behalf of Israel, one NGO, and actually what she did was defame Palestinians and decry EU funds” (emphasis added).

  • Eman Zuiter, “a human rights researcher works with Geneva International Center for Justice since 2016 as well as with Euro-Med Monitor since 2015”
    • Her presentation was titled “Gaza Use of Excessive Force Israeli Way of Facing Peaceful Protestors”
    • Claimed that the IDF is using “expanding bullets” leading to “permanent damage.” Argued that Israel was also using “toxic gas” against Palestinians at the Gaza border.
    • Stated that Israel was “targeting medical personnel in their white coats” and “targeting children.”
    • Claimed that IDF forces “want to kill these people.”
    • Demanded that the “Council put pressure on Israel and implement resolution 194 and give Palestinians the right to return to their homes.”
  • Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the “situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967”
    • Stated that his mandate is to “investigate Israel’s violations.”
    • His presentation focused on the claim that an occupier can become an illegal occupant.
    • Claimed that “Israel can offer no compelling reasons for the extraordinary length of the occupation.”
    • Stated that in East Jerusalem, the occupation detaches it from “dimensions of the West Bank because of the wall and rings of settlements and discriminatory travel regimes.”
    • Stated that Israel and Namibia are “difference branches of the same tree.”
    • Argued that the “international community is responsible for the close supervision of alien rule and bringing it to conclusion.”
    • Stated “As Special Rapporteur I submit that Israel’s occupation has crossed the line.”
    • Argued that there should be a commission created to do a comprehensive study on the legality of Israel’s occupation and then consider the advantages of an advisory opinion.
    • In response to a question about what the international community can do to bring the occupation to an end, Lynk stated that “there are a number of robust tools at the hands of the international to do this. It may mean reviewing or suspending Israel’s privileges as a state member at the United Nations. It may mean that countries in the world particularly those with significant trade or political relationships with Israel would review their relationships with Israel in the military, political, diplomatic, and economic investment spheres. And that Israel would face some forms of restrictions in its abilities to wind up trading” (emphasis added).
    • Stated “Building on the vital and indispensable role of NGOs, this is one particular area they can play a significant role in coming up with a legal, a diplomatic, and a campaign framework for beginning to press Israel to end its occupation and its violations of international law (emphasis added). They are a range of wonderful Israeli, Palestinian, and international NGOs that do great work on this issue of the occupation.”
    • In reference to a question regarding the “territory,” Lynk stated that “It is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to find a way to live together peacefully and harmoniously in equality and in justice and that could involve a variety of different political solutions for how they want to live together. I am not here to prejudge what should or could be done with respect to their political future together but it has to be one based on mutual respect and quality…” (emphasis added).
    • Stated that “if you are going to make peaceful transitions to justice impossible you are going to make violent reactions to oppression inevitable” (emphasis added).

“Israeli Violations during Gaza’s March of Return”

Date: July 3, 2018

Host: Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) – It is important to note that PRC has alleged ties to Hamas. On December 27, 2010, then Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared the PRC an “unlawful association” due to its alleged association with Hamas. According to the Israeli Security Agency, PRC “is involved in initiating and organizing radical and violent activity against Israel in Europe, while de-legitimizing Israel’s status as a nation among the European community.” A 2011 intelligence service report of the German Ministry of the Interior found that “Hamas does not operate openly in Europe. Instead it uses, for instance, the Palestinian Return Center in London as a forum.”

Speakers and Statements:

  • Rania Muhareb, Legal Researcher at Al-Haq (see above for funding information)
    • Quoted a participant in the riots along the Gaza border, who stated, “the core of the struggle is the right of return and establishing the Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.”
    • Claimed that Israel is using “expanding bullets” causing severe injuries. However, the company that produces the bullets in question has already stated that the IDF does not use these types of bullets. Furthermore, the image shown in the slide presentation compares a shrapnel injury to that of a bullet injury, not a regular bullet to an expanding bullet as Muhareb claimed.
    • Claimed that “paramedics and medical staff are being directly targeted by the Israeli army.”

  • Pietro Stefanini, Researcher and Advocacy Coordinator at PRC (funding not transparent)

  • Ghada Al Rayan, Independent Palestinian Legal Researcher
    • Presentation was titled “Israel’s Use of Explosive Bullets and Toxic Gas Against Protestors at the Gaza Fence”
    • Accused Israel of using explosive bullets, using the same falsified picture (see above).
    • Accused Israel of using an “unknown” type of “toxic gas” against Palestinians along the Gaza border. Quoted Dr. Munther Rajab, “internal medicine specialist in Germany and head of PalMed Europe,” stating “The substances used are yet unknown, but they are expected to be gases and toxins in specific doses only to paralyze and cripple the movement of the person inhaling the gas, without leading to their death.”
    • Quoted Dr. Wahidi regarding Palestinians that had apparently “inhaled gas.” Stated that he “couldn’t determine what sort of gas was used but it caused shivers and pain for hours” and “shortness of breath, fainting, hallucinations…lasting for several days.”
    • Argued that the “toxic gas” resulted in “chronic lung inflammation” and “muscle spasms.”
    • Stated that “medical experts should be allowed to analyze bombs and gas to find antibodies.”
    • Claimed that “Israeli forces used unjustifiable weapons inflicting terrible suffering against demonstrators on the Gaza fence.”
    • Stated that “Israeli forces deliberately targeted large numbers of civilians.”
    • Argued that “it appears that there is a deliberate intention to further complicate injuries of protestors targeted or near the fence, hindering their ability to advance towards the fence” (emphasis added).
  • Mahmoud Daher – Head of Gaza’s sub-office for the World Health Organization (WHO) (via video link)
    • Discussed the 2009, 2012, and 2014 Gaza wars, stating that the “heavy military operations affected mainly the population in Gaza resulted in 2014 in a truce agreed between the Government of Israel and authorities in Gaza…”
    • Referred to the diminishing “moral and hope” of people in Gaza.