From the beginning of Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza on December 27, 2008 to January 8, 2009, 35 NGOs claiming to promote human rights and humanitarian agendas have issued more than 132 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. For example, on December 27 (the start of the operation), 189 villagers were massacred by Ugandan rebels in the Congo. Yet, none of the major NGOs reported on this incident.
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,” will focus daily on different organizations, beginning with an analysis of Oxfam’s role.
Oxfam : “Disproportionate” Attacks on Israel
- Oxfam is based in Britain, and composed of numerous quasi-autonomous branches in different countries.
- There are a number of funding sources, including the British government and Ford Foundation.
- Following Hamas’ takeover of Gaza and increased rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in 2007, Oxfam played an integral role in the NGO campaign against Israel’s Gaza policy, accusing Israel of an “illegal siege”, “collective punishment” and continued “occupation”. This campaign contributed to the conflict and gave Hamas leaders the expectation of international support for its terror activities.
- Oxfam has issued eight statements since December 27, and has created a special page regarding the conflict on its website.
- These statements include false international legal claims, such as the accusation that Israel is guilty of “disproportionate force” or “illegal collective punishment”.
- Presents an immoral equivalence between Hamas’ deliberate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel’s response in self defense – a right guaranteed under Article 51 of the UN Charter.
- 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.
- Oxfam uses these claims to promote a clear anti-Israel political agenda, including calls for increased diplomatic pressure and demands that the EU and other international bodies suspend agreements with Israel. No similar demands are presented with respect to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, or Iran.
For further information
“EU and NIF-funded NGOs Lead Condemnations in Gaza Conflict ,” NGO Monitor, (Updated daily)
“Did Israel Use “Disproportionate Force” in Gaza?” Dore Gold, Jerusalem Viewpoints, Vol. 8, No. 16, 28 December 2008
“International Law and the fighting in Gaza ,” Justice Reid Weiner and Avi Bell, MESI, December 29, 2008
Oxfam/CARE International/Diakonia (Joint Statement)
“Aid agencies warn of humanitarian catastrophe if Gaza is attacked ,” December 27, 2008
The aid agencies condemned all attacks on civilians and called on the international community to speak out against the disproportionate use of force by any side.
Humanitarian access cannot be used as a political tool. We condemn unequivocally the rocket attacks into Israel and warn in the strongest terms against any massive military response on the part of Israel ,” said Christoffer Sjöholm, Regional Manager for Diakonia.”
“Gaza: Bombing Severely Reduces Oxfam Aid Programme ,” December 29, 2009
John Prideaux-Brune, Oxfam’s country programme manager in Jerusalem, said:
“The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law . Oxfam condemns outright Hamas’ rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. However they cannot justify this overwhelming military response which is killing innocent civilians .”
“Maximum pressure needed from EU delegation to end Gaza onslaught ,” January 2, 2009
The agency is calling on the EU delegation to put maximum pressure on all sides to end the violence immediately. It says that Israeli bombing is excessive and Hamas’ rocket fire indiscriminate and neither party is respecting international humanitarian law .
“Humanitarian crisis set for catastrophe ,” January 2, 2009
The Guardian, by Kirsty Hughes (Advocacy director, Oxfam)
After 18 months of a blockade of Gaza, constituting an illegal collective punishment under international humanitarian law, the bombing has left families facing critical shortages of food and fuel.
FIDH/Christian Aid/Danish Church Aid/Diakonia/EMHRN/Oxfam International / Trócaire/World Vision (Joint Statement)
“Aid agencies call for suspension of enhanced EU-Israel agreements ,” January 7, 2009
A coalition of major humanitarian, human rights and development organisations called on the European Union today to immediately suspend any further enhancement of its relations with Israel, known as an ‘upgrade’, until it agrees to a comprehensive ceasefire and provides unimpeded humanitarian access .
“…It is inconceivable that we should extend further benefits of European partnership to a government that violates international humanitarian law and refuses negotiation in favour of continued violence . It is time for robust EU action to bring about an immediate ceasefire and end the violence on all sides,” said Daleep Mukarji, Director of Christian Aid UK and Ireland.”