The NGO Front in the Gaza War
Updated February 12, 2009
On February 4, 2009, NGO Monitor released a detailed report — The NGO Front in the Gaza War: The Durban Strategy Continues — analyzing NGO activity during the Gaza war (December 27, 2008 – January 18, 2009). This monograph is an expansion of NGO Monitor’s coverage of the conflict (see below).
To read the Executive Summary in English, click here. [PDF]
To read the PDF of the Executive Summary in Hebrew, click here.
To read the PDF of the full report, click here.
NGO Monitor’s coverage of the Gaza war
On this page:
- NGO distortions and double standards in the Gaza War
- NGO Monitor’s “NGO Front” series – one page summaries on individual NGOs and issues: Oxfam, HRW and White Phosphorus.
- Summary of all NGO statements since beginning of Operation Cast Lead
- NGO Monitor in the Media
- Further background information
NGO distortions and double standards in the Gaza War
From the beginning of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza on December 27, 2008 to January 20, 2009, over 50 NGOs claiming to promote human rights and humanitarian agendas have issued more than 500 statements on the fighting, and the number increases continuously. These statements exhibit severe bias and double standards, focus overwhelmingly on condemning Israel, and ignore or pay little attention to Israeli human rights and casualties. Under the façade of morality and universality, they exploit international legal terminology and erase Hamas violations of international humanitarian law, such as the extensive use of human shields.
These reports are a central part of the “soft power” war being waged against Israel, in parallel to the “hard power” rocket and terror attacks, and reflect an ideological bias which also gives excessive attention to this conflict. In contrast many international NGOs have remained silent on extensive human rights abuses occurring around the world during this period.
NGO Monitor is tracking these statements to provide continual updates on the NGO public relations effort on Gaza. In order to highlight the activities of particular NGOs, NGO Monitor’s series entitled, “The NGO Front,” focuses on different organizations and individual issues.
NGO Monitor’s “NGO Front” series
- The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Lawfare Against Israel One aspect of NGO statements on the Gaza war is demands for international investigations and “lawfare”. Although the vast majority of previous lawfare cases have been dismissed, the damage to public perception of Israel and Israel’s diplomatic relations is considerable. Reportedly, PCHR is preparing cases in six countries, targeting 87 Israelis for harassment and “dozens of arrest warrants have already been issued.” Other NGOs calling for lawfare in the wake of the Gaza war include the AIC, Adalah, Amnesty, Ittijah, and HRA.
- The NGO Front in the Gaza War: B´Tselem Since December 27, 2008, B´Tselem has issued over 35 press releases and “testimonies” about the Gaza war, most of which cannot be independently verified. No testimonies of Israeli victims of Hamas attacks were published. B´Tselem participated in a press conference accusing Israel of “grave violations of international humanitarian law,” “wanton use of lethal force,” and “disproportionate harm to civilians.” B´Tselem also makes claims about the military relevance of targets which it is not qualified to assess. B´Tselem´s statements largely erase Hamas´ use of human shields and its indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
- The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Debate over Palestinian Casualties There is a growing debate over Palestinian casualty claims. While the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) and the Palestinian Ministry of Health have announced that the majority of fatalities were civilians, the IDF has estimated that “more than two-thirds of [the deaths] were Hamas members.” PCHR’s anti-Israel campaigning during war includes accusations of Israeli “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” “human holocaust,” “collective punishment,” “indiscriminate killing and continued systematic destruction of all the Palestinian institutions and civilian facilities in the Gaza Strip.”
- The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Amnesty International Since December 27, 2008, Amnesty International and its worldwide branches have released numerous statements on Gaza. These are primarily critical of Israel and use the rhetoric of international humanitarian law in a consistently biased manner. Amnesty accuses Israel of “unlawful,” “disproportionate,” and “indiscriminate” attacks against Palestinian civilians. Amnesty largely ignores the well-documented commandeering of civilian infrastructure and widespread use of human shields by Hamas. These accusations are similar to Amnesty’s false claims against Israel made during the Second Lebanon War.
- The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Exploitation of International Law The exploitation of international legal rhetoric is a major weapon in the political war to delegitmize Israeli anti-terror operations. During the Gaza conflict, NGOs have selectively charged Israel with “violations of law,” “crimes against humanity,” “war crimes,” “disproportionate force” and “indiscriminate attacks.” Many NGOs are already calling for international “investigations” and “lawfare” based on these accusations, in order to harass Israeli officials and promote a negative media image of Israel. At the same time, the violation of Gilad Shalit’s human rights and Hamas’ use of human shields are ignored.
- The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Oxfam Oxfam’s numerous statements include false international legal claims, such as the accusation that Israel is guilty of “disproportionate force” or “illegal collective punishment.” They present an immoral equivalence between Hamas’ deliberate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel’s response in self defense and repeats the standard Palestinian accusation that Israel has created a humanitarian crisis, despite the detailed evidence from the World Food Bank and other sources to the contrary.
- The NGO Front in the Gaza War: Human Rights Watch
In the first 16 days of fighting HRW released 11 statements on Gaza, primarily critical of Israel, including many using the rhetoric of international law for political objectives. Sarah Leah Whitson has carried HRW’s campaign to the UN — and similar to allegations made during the 2006 Lebanon war, HRW’s claims about the IDF’s use of white phosphorus lack credible evidence.
- NGO Front in the Gaza War: HRW, anti-Israel Campaigns, and White Phosphorous: Condemn First, Correct (Maybe) Later
On January 10, HRW launched a public relations campaign condemning Israel for allegedly using white phosphorus weapons unlawfully in the conflict with Hamas. HRW´s large budget, and its media access via the “halo effect” results in the amplification of these reports in the press and through other NGOs, without independent investigation or verification. HRW´s disproportionate focus on this issue diverts attention from Hamas´ systematic use of human shields, its indiscriminate rocket attacks, and Iran´s role in fomenting the conflict.
Summary of all NGO statements since beginning of Operation Cast Lead
Click here for an alphabetical summary of all NGO statements since December 27, 2008, the beginning of Operation Cast Lead.
NGO Monitor in the Media
For extensive media coverage of NGO Monitor’s reporting, see below in “Related Articles”
Radio and TV coverage:
- Bloomberg News interview with Gerald Steinberg, January 2, 2009
- Sky News Television debate with Gerald Steinberg January 4, 2009
- Knesset TV panel discussion, January 7, 2009
- Chai FM (South Africa) interview with Dan Kosky, January 8, 2009
- National Public Radio (USA) interview with Gerald Steinberg, January 14, 2009
- IBA English News radio interview with Gerald Steinberg, January 20, 2009
- IBA English News TV interview with Dan Kosky, January 25, 2009
- Chai FM (South Africa) interview with Dan Kosky, January 26, 2009
- IBA English News radio interview with Anne Herzberg, February 3, 2009
Further background information
Evidence of Hamas’ Abuse of the Laws of War, The Israel Project, August 13, 2009
Israel’s move into Gaza provokes strong responses, Anne Herzberg, Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2009
NGOs aid Hamas PR campaign, Anne Herzberg, Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2009
“Liberate the Palestinians from Hamas,” Bernard Henri-Levy, The New Republic, January 9, 2009
“On Proportionality,” Michael Walzer, The New Republic, January 8, 2009
“Amnesty International’s anti-Israel stance undermines human rights and international law,” Prof. Avi Bell, Jurist Hotline Blog, January 5, 2009
“International Law and the fighting in Gaza,” Justice Reid Weiner and Avi Bell, MESI, December 29, 2008
“Can Israel win the ‘soft power’ war in Gaza?” Gerald Steinberg, Jerusalem Post, December 28, 2008
“Did Israel Use “Disproportionate Force” in Gaza?” Dore Gold, Jerusalem Viewpoints, Vol. 8, No. 16, December 28, 2008
“Proportional to what?” The Economist, December 28, 2008
“Israel Defends Citizens from Hamas,” The Israel Project, December 27, 2008