On December 29, 2023, South Africa instituted proceedings against the State of Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. In its 85-page submission and during public hearings on 11-12 January, South Africa relied on a number of highly biased NGOs with links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group. 

South Africa’s allegations follow intensive, highly politicized NGO campaigns to attach the “genocide” label to Israel. Similarly, the framing in the submission – that “Israel’s acts of genocide” must be placed in the “broader context of Israel’s conduct towards Palestinians during its 75-year-long apartheid…” – echoes NGO rhetoric.

Members of the Delegation/Advisors

The South African delegation to the ICJ hearings included officials from the NGOs with ties to the PFLP. 

Raji Sourani

Founder and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). According to a 1995 article in the Washington Report, Raji Sourani served “a three-year sentence [1979-1982] imposed by an Israeli court which convicted him of membership in the illegal Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine…” He was also denied a US entry visa in 2012.

In February 2014, the PFLP organized a ceremony in Gaza honoring Sourani. Rabah Muhana, a member of the PFLP Political Bureau, delivered a speech at the prize ceremony. During the ceremony Sourani stated that “I was in the ranks of the Popular Front, and there were comrades who taught us with their own hands. This organization has given us much more. We hope that the direction and the sense of belonging that were planted inside us will remain in our minds. We don’t apologize and don’t regret our past, we are proud that once we were members of this organization and we fought in its ranks” (emphasis added).

For more information on PCHR’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report “Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”

Shawan Jabarin

General Director of Al-Haq. Jabarin was convicted in 1985 for recruiting members for the PFLP, and was also found guilty of arranging PFLP training outside Israel. In 1994, Jabarin was again arrested for alleged links and placed in administrative detention for six months. An Israeli statement to the UN notes that he “had not discontinued his terrorist involvement and maintains his position in the leadership of the PFLP.”

Later, in a series of court cases in 2007-2009, the Israeli High Court of Justice found Jabarin to be a senior PFLP activist (2007, 2008, 2009). According to the Israeli Supreme court, Jabarin “is apparently acting as a manner of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, acting some of the time as the CEO of a human rights organization, and at other times as an activist in a terror organization.

In February 2019, Jabarin participated in an event hosted by the PFLP in memory of “comrade fighter” Maher Al-Yamani. Al- Yamani was a PFLP “founder,” a “member of the Central Committee and one of its most prominent military commanders,” and “coordinated special operations…in particular the operation against an aircraft of the Israeli company El Al in July 1968 in Greece.” Additionally, in May 2019, Jabarin attended a memorial event organized by the PFLP that centered on PFLP political bureau member Rabah Muhanna, who, according to information posted by the PFLP, “contributed to the establishment” of several PFLP-affiliated NGOs, including UHWC, UAWC, and Addameer. The hall was decorated with PFLP paraphernalia.

According to multiple Arabic-language media sources, Jabarin represented the PFLP at a December 2011 meeting of the Follow-Up Committee for Issues of Public Liberties and Trust Building.  This committee served as a reconciliatory body between Hamas, Fatah, PIJ, the PFLP, and other Palestinian factions. According to  the Al-Wafd news outlet, Jabarin, a “PFLP representative on the committee” announced his resignation after he was identified by his PFLP affiliation.

Issam Younis

CEO of Al Mezan, based in Gaza. A number of Al Mezan officials and employees are members of the PFLP and Hamas. For more information on Al-Mezan’s PFLP ties, read NGO Monitor’s report, “Al Mezan Center For Human Rights’ Ties to the PFLP Terror Group.”

Younis previously served as the Commissioner General of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), which regularly collaborates with and has demonstrated its support for Hamas, the PFLP, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

On January 30, 2020, Younis led a meeting hosted by the ICHR concerning Palestinian reconciliation, which saw participation of representatives from several terror groups, such as senior Hamas official and spokesman of the Hamas government, Taher Al-Nunu, and then-leader of the PFLP in Gaza, Rabah Muhanna.

Susan Power

Al-Haq Head of Legal Research and Advocacy Susan Power served as an advisor for South Africa’s complaint. In the aftermath of the brutal Hamas atrocities on October 7, Power tweeted, “There is an international law right to resist, and peoples under colonial domination, have the right to resist as outlined in numerous resolutions, protocols etc. Legally this is not an issue. All acts of resistance must comply with rules of IHL. But still int’l right to resist” (emphasis added).

PFLP-linked NGO Sources

Out of the 574 citations in the South African application, 45 originate with politicized and biased NGOs. As noted above, three of these NGOs – Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – have ties to the PFLP.

The submission references Al-Haq’s apartheid report (2022),  which repeated artificial and manufactured definitions of apartheid in order to extend campaigns that seek to delegitimize and demonize Israel. Additionally, the three PFLP-linked NGOs are cited when discussing “Palestinian non-governmental organisations have also strongly condemned the genocide, calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate the crime.” Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and PCHR regularly file documentation to the ICC, seeking to demonize and to brand Israeli officials as “war criminals.”

South Africa also cites a statement published by the three NGOs on supposed “serious Israeli violations at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Northern Gaza.” The NGOs, as well as the submission, ignored the videos, images, and intelligence materials demonstrating that terrorists were using the hospital as shelter and to hide weapons. 

Reference to MSF Doctor with Terror Links

In the complaint and at the hearings, South Africa quoted Mahmoud Abu Nujaila, a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) doctor who was killed as a result of a strike that hit Al-Awda hospital in Gaza. 

Abu Nujaila was the head of the PFLP’s health group, the Democratic Health Association (at least as of December 2018). Before and during his employment by MSF, Mahmoud Abu Nujaila openly supported the PFLP and its violent actions, along with other terrorists who brutally killed Israelis. 

On October 17, 2021, Abu Nujaila shared a picture of a handwritten stylized text in a notebook that read, “October 17th, when the [gun] silencer cried in joy.” Abu Nujaila wrote, “It was the prettiest day, it was the PFLP’s response, and it was the decree of the people.” He added victory and heart emojis. On October 17, 2001, a PFLP cell directed by PFLP Secretary-General Ahmad Sa’adat assassinated Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi. Similarly, on October 17, 2019, Abu Nujaila wrote, “As we remember October 17th, we shall not forget those who surrendered the men who carried it out, and we shall not forgive. #The_security_coordination_is_betrayal.” On October 17, 2019, Abu Nujaila shared an official PFLP poster featuring a PFLP terrorist and the text, “Our bullets have grown in numbers and our rifles have not yet rusted. October 17th – the first assassination operation of a Zionist minister in the history of the Palestinian revolution.” The complaint also neglected to mention that Al-Awda hospital is run by an NGO linked to the  PFLP terror group, AWDA Health and Community Association (formerly known as the Union of Health Work Committees, or UHWC). For more information, read NGO Monitor’s report “MSF in Gaza: Terror-linked Employee and Hospital.”