UN OCHA-oPt: Exploiting Humanitarianism to Advance Political Warfare
- The Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, branch of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-oPt)1 executes the UN’s regional humanitarian response plan, facilitating and providing donations to dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As opposed to other OCHA branches around the world, OCHA-oPt prioritizes one-sided political advocacy in place of traditional humanitarian assistance.
- OCHA-oPt is directly funded by several European countries and the European Union. It also receives indirect support from the US and other countries that provide unearmarked support to OCHA’s central branch, which then transfers funding to OCHA-oPt.
- While other OCHA branches focus on delivering clean water, shelter, and other basic humanitarian necessities, OCHA-oPt defines success in numbers of press releases, reports, briefings, and lobbying activities.
- In order to advance Palestinian political goals in Area C of the West Bank, OCHA-oPt directs disproportionate resources to Area C despite the higher humanitarian needs in Gaza and in other parts of the West Bank. This indicates close coordination and strategizing with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
- OCHA-oPt coordinates with and funds terror-linked NGOs, including groups with ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization. Several officials working for OCHA oPt-partner NGOs have been arrested for their leading roles in carrying out PFLP terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) – which lobbies against anti-terror regulations and includes PFLP-linked groups among its members – is a key member of the OCHA-oPt Humanitarian Country Team (HCT).
- The West Bank is one of the most developed areas where OCHA operates, yet OCHA-oPt funding outpaces support to OCHA missions in countries that are far more dangerous, underdeveloped, and in need of humanitarian assistance. For instance, funding per targeted person is higher for OCHA-oPt than it is in the least developed country in the world, Niger, as well as for war-torn states desperately in need of aid, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To the UN:
- Immediately cease all cooperation with, and funding for, terror-linked NGOs, including those with ties to the PFLP and other terrorist groups.
- Increase transparency by publishing all names of NGO project partners, as well as all NGO members of OCHA thematic clusters.
To donor governments:
- Freeze funding to UN frameworks that partner with or fund organizations whose officials have been arrested for terror activity, are connected to terrorist organizations, or that glorify terrorism.
- Establish and enact clear national guidelines to ensure that individuals and organizations linked to nationally– and/or EU–designated terror groups are ineligible from receiving funding through UN frameworks.
To the Israeli government:
- Review levels of cooperation with OCHA in light of its political advocacy in violation of humanitarian principles and partnerships with and funding of terror-linked actors.
- Review visas for UN, NGO, and other government officials that partner with or financially support organizations tied to terror groups or engage in projects in violation of humanitarian principles.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the “humanitarian arm of the United Nations Secretariat,” is the UN agency tasked with coordinating “the global emergency response to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises.” In Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, OCHA’s local branch (OCHA-oPt) is responsible for coordinating the activities of nearly 90 bodies, including more than 20 UN agencies – executing the UN’s humanitarian response plan, facilitating donations to dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in the region, and providing direct funding to local NGOs.
The following report outlines how OCHA-oPt, operating in the region since 2002, prioritizes advocacy in support of Palestinian political agendas instead of providing principled humanitarian assistance to those most in need.
Indeed, the OCHA-oPt 2020 project description regarding funding for its office extensively emphasizes the centrality of advocacy to its activity: “OCHA plays a number of critical roles in the oPt humanitarian context which are unique as compared to other OCHA country offices globally… Indicators Include, Public and private advocacy products & actions by OCHA or coordinated through HCT that underpin evidence-based advocacy & aimed to change policies, behaviours or practices that violate IHL and IHRL…. HCT joint advocacy events Advocacy briefings during Area C Steering Committee meetings Production of HCT key advocacy messages to facilitate the achievement of its roles, functions and the above targets…” (emphases added).
Through a comparative study of OCHA activities in select conflict zones around the world, with a focus on the agency’s thematic cluster system – particularly its Protection Clusters – we show that OCHA-oPt is dedicated to advancing political advocacy. Other OCHA operations around the world, in sharp contrast, are primarily focused on providing humanitarian aid to affected populations. This phenomenon is most clearly seen in the West Bank, which has a relatively low level of humanitarian need, but a disproportionately high level of funding.
The main drivers of this disparity are OCHA-oPt’s planning and decision making processes, which incorporate political and politicized actors. OCHA-oPt’s goals, strategies and tactics are set in close coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA), as well as terror-linked NGOs.
The presence of biased and terror-supporting actors on key decision making bodies, including those that direct funds, plays a central role in OCHA-oPt’s agenda of advocacy-oriented projects.
As shown in this report, this structure is inconsistent with the agency’s claim to be “guided by the four humanitarian principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.”2 According to OCHA, “Humanitarian action almost always takes place in complex political and militarized environments. Adherence to the principles is therefore critical in order to distinguish humanitarian action from the activities and objectives of political, military and other actors” (emphasis added).
Government Funding to OCHA-oPt
Foreign governments play a central role in funding NGO projects coordinated under OCHA-oPt auspices and in financing the local branch itself.
|Country||2019 Earmarked Contributions to OCHA-oPt||2020 Earmarked Contributions to OCHA-oPt|
*The Financial Tracking Service – OCHA contains two entries for earmarked German funding in 2019 and 2020.
Additionally, according to OCHA-oPt’s website, several countries provide unearmarked funding, defined as “Unearmarked contributions (or commitments) are those for which the donor does not require the funds to be used for a specific project, sector, crisis or country, leaving OCHA to decide how to allocate the funds.”
The following countries provided unearmarked funds to OCHA in 2019: the United States, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UAE, and UK.
NGO projects coordinated under the auspices of OCHA-oPt are also funded through an OCHA-directed “emergency pooled fund,” known as the “oPt Humanitarian Fund.” Members of the oPt HF Advisory Board include the donors to the fund and representatives of national and international NGOs and UN agencies.
According to the OCHA-oPt, this fund “is primarily aligned to support the delivery of strategic humanitarian response identified under Humanitarian Response Plan while retaining the flexibility to allocate funds to unforeseen events or special requirements.” As reported by OCHA-oPt, donors to this fund include Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.
As of February 2020, OCHA’s funding database is markedly less transparent than in the past, making it difficult to track the involvement of NGOs involved in OCHA projects. Often, the implementing NGO partners on projects in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are not listed. It appears this change has occurred in light of increasing scrutiny on partnerships and funding carried out by OCHA-oPt.
OCHA-oPt activities are defined and coordinated by a Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), “a strategic and operational decision-making and oversight forum” under which all of OCHA’s country-based activities take place. In the case of OCHA-oPt, the direct role of radical and terror-linked NGOs in the HCT is a significant and extraordinary factor, as documented below. Additionally, the presence of “representatives from the international NGO consortia Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA)” – a body that also engages in anti-Israel advocacy, is telling.
According to OCHA, “the Humanitarian Country Team analyses needs and identifies strategic objectives.” HCT leads a funding appeals process, designed to “bring[s] aid organizations together to jointly plan, coordinate, implement and monitor their response to natural disasters and complex emergencies.”
The HCT directs various thematic “clusters” (see chart below), which set project priorities and coordinate much of the funding from OCHA to the local NGO partners.
OCHA-oPt: Prioritizing Advocacy over Humanitarian Assistance
OCHA-oPt’s biased agenda can be clearly seen in the language it utilizes to describe priority issue areas. For example, the agency considers that:
“The major drivers of humanitarian vulnerability in the oPt are the protracted occupation, the systematic denial of Palestinian human rights, and continuing conflict, punctuated by frequent outbreaks of violence. In the West Bank, continuing settlement expansion and the lack of a horizon for ending the occupation are major sources of frustration and conflict. In the Gaza Strip, years of blockade and recurrent outbreaks of hostilities have eroded basic infrastructure, service delivery, livelihoods and coping mechanisms. The overall context is that of a protracted protection crisis driven by lack of respect for international law, and a lack of accountability for violations.”
Absent from this analysis is any recognition of the roles of political instability and division, authoritarianism, and corruption within the PA and Hamas; Palestinian terrorism and political control by armed groups; systematic indoctrination of “resistance” and “return” narratives; and the ongoing policy of Palestinian rejectionism in influencing the situation on the ground.
A comparison of the strategic goals and leading performance indicators in the OCHA-oPt definition compared to other OCHA missions in conflict zones highlights the uniqueness of the Palestinian model.
In each of the 25 countries and territories where OCHA operates, a Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) outlines the aims of the mission, detailing several strategic objectives. While OCHA-oPt is concerned with promoting “rights” and pressuring and punishing Israel through international forums, other OCHA missions in conflict zones with far greater rights violations identify critical humanitarian interventions (“saving lives”) as the top priority.
In 2019, OCHA-oPt’s HRP received $202.2 million.
|Location||Strategic Objective #1 (emphasis added throughout)|
|OCHA-oPt||“The rights of Palestinians living under occupation, including those living under the blockade and other restrictions, are protected, respected and promoted in accordance with IHL [International Humanitarian Law] and IHRL [International Human Rights Law].”
(An OCHA-oPt publication describing the 2018-2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, adds another clause to this objective: “duty-bearers are increasingly held to account.”
|Syria||“Provide humanitarian life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to the most vulnerable people with emphasis on those in areas with high severity of needs.”|
|Afghanistan||"Lives are saved in the areas of highest need.”|
|Nigeria||“Save lives by providing timely and integrated multi-sector assistance and protection interventions to the most vulnerable.”|
|Yemen||“Helping millions of destitute Yemenis overcome hunger.”|
|Somalia||“Reduce acute humanitarian needs and excess mortality among the most vulnerable by providing life-saving and sustaining integrated assistance.”|
|Central African Republic||"Save Lives"|
Stemming from this decision to prioritize political advocacy, the metrics and indicators utilized by OCHA-oPt to evaluate performance are similarly divorced from objective humanitarian achievements. While their counterparts around the world are tasked with ensuring that lifesaving materials are provided to communities in need, local OCHA-oPt officials emphasize the production of reports and political submissions to international bodies.
|Location||Indicators for Strategic Objective #1 (emphasis added throughout)|
|OCHA-oPt||12 Security Council Briefings reflecting HCT [Humanitarian Country Team] language and priorities on protection and/or broader humanitarian issues in Gaza and the West Bank.|
|Syria||Percentage of people reached monthly in areas of high severity of need.|
|Afghanistan||Proportion of IDP [internally displaced persons], returnee and nondisplaced conflict-affected women, men and children of all ages receiving shelter assistance who express satisfaction about this support.|
|Nigeria||Number of people having adequate access to temporary safe water facilities and services as per sector’s standard.|
|Yemen||Percentage decrease in the number of in IPC phase 4 districts and areas with populations in IPC phase 5 [IPC phases 4 and 5 represent the most extreme gradations of food insecurity].|
|Somalia||Number of sites with established CCCM [camp coordination and camp management] mechanisms.|
|Central African Republic||Number of people affected (disaggregated by gender and age) having benefited from temporary water to respond to their vulnerabilit[ies].|
Protection Cluster as a Platform for Advocacy
One of the leading vehicles for these blatantly political efforts is the OCHA-oPt Protection Cluster. As indicated above, OCHA activities are implemented by NGOs and UN agencies that deal with particular themes; these “clusters” focus on issues such as food security, health and nutrition, education, sanitation, and protection.
NGOs are central in these clusters, shaping goals and also receiving funding and carrying out projects.
While protection clusters in other regions engage in some advocacy, none matches the OCHA-oPt Protection Cluster in volume and centrality of political strategies and objectives.
Consistent with its political platform, OCHA-oPt explains that “protection is mainstreamed throughout interventions in the HRP both through protection-focused or protection-sensitive programming, as well as advocacy efforts that call for respect for IHL [international humanitarian law] and IHRL [international human rights law] and accountability for violations” (emphasis added).
Comparing the 2019 performance metrics for the OCHA-oPt Protection Cluster and other protection clusters reveals the extent to which OCHA-oPt is an outlier.
The indicators are based on preset targets for press releases, reports, and other publications that cluster members are expected to produce in any given year. The predetermined nature of the documents related to Israel and the public relations focus highlight the fact that they are advocacy tools, not fact-finding responses to developments on the ground:
- “200 reports and factsheets on IHL and IHRL violations, conflict-related violence and relevant trends”
- “4 reports on grave violations against children issued to allow trends analysis”
- “330 local briefings and/or field visits”
- “100 press releases”
- “240 legal assistance cases in support of Human Rights Defenders and organisations”
- “141 public interest cases challenging unjust HLP [Housing Land and Property], legal identity, freedom of movement and residency issues.”
Similarly, OCHA-oPt’s actions during the violence along the Gaza-Israel border that began in March 2018 clearly demonstrate this advocacy-driven agenda:
- Drafting 25 public statements
- Outreach activities with 16 journalists from international and local press agencies
- Publishing 253 tweets “promoting IHL and IHL in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territories]”
In addition to the activities and publications of specific NGOs, OCHA-oPt itself publishes numerous reports and factsheets that are central to advocacy efforts. For example, OCHA-oPt publications – including “OCHA, The Monthly Humanitarian Bulletin,” “OCHA, East Jerusalem: key humanitarian concerns,” and “OCHA Gaza Impact Blockade” – feature prominently as source material in the ICC Prosecutor’s December 2019 report indicating her intention to launch a formal investigation into potential war crimes in “the State of Palestine.”
Examples of Politicized Protection Cluster NGO Projects and Activities
- In 2019, OCHA’s Humanitarian Fund provided Al Mezan Center for Human Rights with $244,756 for the project “Documentation and protection of victims of IHL/IHRL violations and securing access to medical care outside Gaza.”
- This project’s mandates included issuing 25 press releases; addressing 2 foreign delegations; and “10 statements, policy, resolution from UN agencies, EU and third states in support of protection concerns raised during the course of the project.” Al Mezan is highly active in BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) and anti-Israel lawfare campaigns, including vis-à-vis the International Criminal Court.
- Sweden, ACT Alliance/DanChurchAid, and the Methodist Church provided a total of $222,452 to “ACT Alliance/DanChurchAid-NCA Joint Office in Palestine” for a 2019 Protection Cluster project with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
- Project goals explicitly require “Educating and sharing information… internationally towards an end of the illegal occupation of Palestine” (emphasis added).
- EAPPI is an unsuitable implementing partner for a Protection Custer project. EAPPI volunteers are not experienced humanitarian experts, but rather self-selecting activists. As documented by NGO Monitor, participants in EAPPI missions are expected to lobby for BDS and other anti-Israel measures with “faith leaders, decision makers, media, civil society, and business officials, so that they change public policy toward ending the Israeli occupation and achieving peace in Israel and Palestine.” (emphasis added)
- In public statements, a number of EAPPI members have often compared Israel to Nazi Germany and South Africa under apartheid, which the consensus IHRA working definition considers as antisemitism.3
- Within the Protection Cluster, UNICEF-oPt heads the “Working Group on Grave Violations against Children” to monitor and report on alleged instances of grave violations against Palestinian children. The Working Group comprises of organizations that have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror group and/or are prominent actors in anti-Israel BDS and lawfare campaigns.
- As with OCHA-oPt, the products presented under the UNICEF-oPt heading reflect the organizations that it relies on for programming and “data collection.” Research shows that the group consistently misrepresents Israeli policies, while generally erasing Palestinian violations such as recruitment and use of children as soldiers and incitement to violence.
- UNICEF and the NGO members of the Working Group are active in a coordinated attempt to place Israel on a blacklist of “grave” violators of children’s rights, alongside ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Qaeda. The list appears as an annex to the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC). (For more information, see NGO Monitor’s report UNICEF and its “NGO Working Group: Failing Children.”)
Coordination with the Palestinian Authority
As noted, OCHA-oPt coordinates with several groups deeply invested in Palestinian political and ideological narratives, generally mirroring the political objectives and strategies of the Palestinian Authority (PA). A 2018-2022 agreement between the PA and 24 UN agencies, including OCHA, defines the goals and tactics of UN action during this time frame.
The top strategic priority outlined in this document is “Supporting Palestine’s path to independence,” to be achieved, partly, through the submission of 33 reports alleging Israeli legal violations to various UN treaty bodies. The UN is also committed to ensuring that “a strong Palestinian national identity prevails.”
In this respect, PA ministries, including the Prime Minister’s Office, are regular participants in OCHA-oPt cluster strategy meetings; representatives of the Palestinian governmental offices frequently co-chair these meetings.
PNGO’s Central Role
As described above, the HCT is a key decision making body that directs funds and outlines projects for OCHA-oPt. The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) – the largest umbrella organization for Palestinian civil society, counting 135 members – is a member of the HCT, with the ability to strongly influence OCHA-oPt decisions and funding.
Contrary to humanitarian principles, PNGO advances an anti-cooperation agenda, and numerous member organizations are tied to the PFLP terrorist organization. PNGO also rejects anti-terror clauses in NGO funding contracts and defends Palestinian “resistance.”
Most recently, in its campaigns against the introduction of EU anti-terror measures, PNGO called on the international community not to “use aid to undermine legitimate Palestinian resistance.” According to PNGO, “We reject all de-legitimization or criminalization of lawful Palestinian resistance, whether in form of allegations of terrorism, anti-semitism or otherwise…We call on all governments and aid providers to respect our right to lawful resistance, support Palestinian human rights defenders, and ensure equal, impartial and transparent access to funding for all” (emphasis added).
OCHA-oPt’s Partnerships with Terror-Linked Actors
OCHA-oPt regularly partners with terror-linked actors, providing and facilitating funding for them and tasking them with project implementation in the various thematic clusters. Many of these NGOs have ties to the PFLP. (See Appendix I for funding to PFLP-linked NGOs listed on OCHA’s funding database.)
For example, Addameer, the Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC), and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), are identified by Fatah as PFLP affiliates. In another example, Health Work Committees (HWC) – the West Bank spinoff of UHWC – is designated by Israel as a terror-linked group, due to its PFLP ties. (For details, see http://pflp.ngo-monitor.org.)
Nevertheless, HWC continues to participate in OCHA-oPt bodies, such as a May 2018 Health Cluster meeting.
Additionally, current and former board members, staff, and officials from OCHA-oPt partner NGOs are affiliated with the PFLP. For example:
- Walid Hanatsheh (Abu Ras) is listed as a PNGO board member on behalf of HWC. Hanatsheh also serves as HWC’s finance and administration manager.
- Hanatsheh was arrested in October 2019, alleged to be the leader of PFLP “military” operations in the West Bank.
- According to his December 12, 2019 indictment, he commanded Samer Arbid, who has been charged for leading the PFLP terror cell that carried out an August 2019 bombing attack that murdered 17-year-old Rina Shnerb, and injured her father and brother (on file with NGO Monitor).
- According to Israeli security officials, Hanatsheh financed the bombing.
- According to Arabic-language media, Samer Arbid worked as the accountant of the UAWC at the time of his September 2019 arrest. According to Israeli security officials, Samer Arbid commanded a PFLP terror cell that carried out the August 23, 2019 bombing. According to the indictment, Arbid prepared and detonated the explosive device.
OCHA-oPt Funding Compared to Least Developed Countries
The disparity between OCHA-oPt and other OCHA branches extends to levels of funding. Despite having one of the highest Humanitarian Development Index (HDI) scores of any area hosting an OCHA office, the West Bank and Gaza receive more funding than some of the worst humanitarian zones in the world.
In 2018, the EU, the world’s largest donor of international aid, assigned a “low [level of] humanitarian needs for the West Bank and moderate humanitarian needs for Gaza” (emphasis added).
Yet, according to NGO Monitor analysis of the OCHA’s 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview, OCHA spends more per targeted person in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem than it does in countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, and Venezuela. Despite OCHA having humanitarian response plans in 21 countries that have a lower Humanitarian Development Index (HDI) than the Palestinians, this region is the 10th highest funded per individual targeted.
|Country/Region||2018 Humanitarian Development Index ranking||Targeted individuals||Funding requirement||Spending per targeted individual|
|Iraq||120||1.8 million||701.2 million||$389.56|
|Libya||110||0.6 million||201.6 million||$336.00|
|Somalia||n/a||3.4 million||1.1 billion||$317.65|
|Syria||154||11.7 million||3,290 million||$281.20|
|South Sudan||186||5.7 million||1.5 billion||$264.91|
|Sudan||168||4.4 million||1.2 billion||$261.36|
|Mozambique||180||2.4 million||620.5 million||$258.54|
|Central African Republic||188||1.7 million||430.7 million||$253.35|
|West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem||119||1.4 million||350.6 million||$250.43|
|Niger||189||1.6 million||383.1 million||$239.44|
|Chad||187||2 million||476.6 million||$238.30|
|Myanmar||145||0.9 million||214.4 million||$238.22|
|Zimbabwe||150||2.2 million||467.9 million||$212.68|
|Yemen||177||21.4 million||4.2 billion||$195.79|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||179||9 million||1.6 billion||$183.33|
|Burundi||185||0.7 million||106.3 million||$151.86|
|Mali||184||2.3 million||324 million||$140.87|
|Nigeria||158||6.2 million||847.7 million||$136.73|
|Afghanistan||170||4.5 million||611.8 million||$135.96|
|Cameroon||150||2.3 million||298.9 million||$129.96|
|Ethiopia||173||8.3 million||1 billion||$124.10|
|Haiti||169||1.3 million||126.2 million||$97.08|
|Venezuela||96||2.7 million||222.7 million||$82.48|
|Ukraine||88||2.3 million||164.4 million||$71.48|
|Madagascar||162||0.46 million||32.4 million||$70.43|
Even within the context of funding for Palestinians, OCHA-oPt does not follow objective humanitarian standards. Despite the UN’s May 2019 declaration that “Gaza is on the verge of a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’,” NGO Monitor analysis shows that the agency requested $400 per “person targeted” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and only $225 in Gaza.4
|Region||Targeted Individuals||Total Funding Request||Funding Request per Targeted Individual|
|West Bank and East Jerusalem||200,000||$80 million||$400|
In the West Bank itself, a significant humanitarian funding gap is further observed, as disproportionate funding priority is given to areas controlled by Israel over areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The strategic prioritization of areas of greater interaction between Israelis and Palestinians likely stems from a decision to engage in political activities and directly challenge Israeli policies. Additionally, it signals a preference for producing advocacy materials geared toward ratcheting pressure on Israel from international actors over providing humanitarian assistance to those most in need.
|Region||People Requiring Assistance||OCHA Funding Request||Funding Request per Individual in Need|
|Areas A and B||364,000||$5 million||$13.73|
|Area C||310,000||$59 million||$190.32|
|Hebron (H2)||31,500||$6 million||$190.47|
|East Jerusalem||222,000||$10 million||$45.04|
In its 2020 fundraising efforts, OCHA-oPt stated that additional resources were needed to “respond to the public health needs and immediate humanitarian consequences of the pandemic in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip” (emphasis added).
However, many of the activities being attributed to such efforts – as detailed in periodic “Situation Report” updates from OCHA – did not appear to involve only vital, lifesaving resources and supplies “to implement the most urgent and critical activities.” In some instances, it is clear that existing NGO advocacy ventures, which often involve anti-Israel rhetoric and agendas, had been relabeled “COVID-19,” without a substantive contribution to emergency humanitarian aid.
For instance, NGOs issued demands that Israel lift the blockade of Gaza and implement measures against “settler violence,” and sent letters to Israeli politicians calling on them to “respect the rule of law.”
(For more information, see NGO Monitor’s May 2020 report, “No NGO Left Behind: The Politics of OCHA’s COVID-19 Humanitarian Aid in the West Bank and Gaza.”)
This report highlights several major problems in the operation of OCHA-oPt and its failure to advance its declared humanitarian objectives. The powerful UN agency, tasked with administering and coordination humanitarian assistance, has instead committed itself to advancing partisan and counterproductive agendas, in clear violation of its guiding principles.
OCHA-oPt roadmaps such as the HRP, frameworks such as the Protection Cluster, and a number of individual projects are used to demonize Israel internationally through political advocacy and to advance disruptive Palestinian agendas. This situation is magnified by the participation of political and terror supporting and terror-linked actors in key decision making positions throughout the OCHA-oPt network.
Moreover, OCHA-oPt’s approach is unique when compared to its counterparts around the world, both in terms of its emphasis on one-sided political advocacy, as well as in the disproportionate resources, relative to the objective humanitarian situation.
Government funders to OCHA in general, and particularly those that directly donate to OCHA-oPt, must work to ensure the integrity of their aid. Taxpayer funds should not be directed to UN agencies, NGOs, and projects that are biased and overtly political. Moreover, the presence of terror-linked bodies in many of these frameworks should be disqualifying.
To the UN:
- End all funding and cooperation with organizations that glorify terrorism, employ individuals connected to terrorist organizations (including but not limited to Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation for Palestine [PFLP], and Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ]), or whose officials have been arrested for terror activity.
- Require an anti-terrorism clause in all funding contracts and cooperation agreements. This clause must also cover Palestinian terror groups including Hamas, the PFLP, and PIJ.
- End all current cooperation and funding to organizations and individuals listed on Israel’s terror designation list. Prohibit all future funding and cooperation until such listings are cancelled.
- Increase transparency by publishing the names of all NGO project partners and grant recipients.
- Publish the names of the NGO members of the thematic clusters.
To donor governments:
- Freeze funding to UN frameworks that partner with or fund organizations that glorify terrorism; whose officials have been arrested for terror activity; or are connected to terrorist organizations, including but not limited to Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation for Palestine (PFLP), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and any others prohibited domestically by the donor government and the EU (for EU member states).
- Establish and enact clear national guidelines, to ensure that individuals and organizations linked to nationally– and EU–designated terror groups are ineligible to receive funding through UN frameworks.
- Include anti-terror clauses in contracts with UN agencies and frameworks.
- Prohibit UN funding or partnerships with any organizations/individuals that Israel has designated as a terror group.
- Establish and enact clear national guidelines to ensure that funding is not provided to individuals or organizations that engage in or promote antisemitic discourse as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.
- Cease funding for projects carried out by UN agencies in violation of humanitarian principles.
To the Israeli government:
- Review levels of cooperation with OCHA in light of its political advocacy in violation of humanitarian principles and partnerships with and funding of terror-linked actors.
- Provide the UN and donor governments with names of terror-linked individuals as well as organizations on Israel’s designated terror list.
- Review visas for UN, NGO, and other government officials that partner with or financially support organizations tied to terror groups or engage in political projects in violation of humanitarian principles.
Appendix I – Funding to PFLP-linked NGOs via OCHA Frameworks: 2018-2019
|Project Partners||Government||Donor||Year/s||Grant Amount||Project Description|
|Palestinian Ministry of Health and NGOs, including Palestinian Medical Relief Services and Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC)||Central Emergency Response Fund||UNPF||2019||$942,764||Supporting Gaza Health system in providing life-saving reproductive health services, and ensuring access to life saving primary health care to the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank (HPSE19-3-150132-1)|
|Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC)||occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||2019||$634,055||Ensuring lifesaving health services for trauma cases (HPSE19-3-150483-1)|
|Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)||occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||2019||$243,792||Monitoring, verification and documentation of possible IHL,IHRL violations in the context of great march of return, And provision of legal aid to victims of GBV in the Gaza Strip (HPSE19-1-150726-1)|
|Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC), Palestinian Counseling Center (PCC), Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA), Palestinian Family Planning and Protection Association (PFPPA), Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC)||occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||Alianza por la Solidaridad (APS)||2018||$199,998||Strengthening the protection mechanism and the community based response for GBV survivors in Gaza (OPT-18/GBV/114210/18784)|
|Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Gisha, HaMoked, Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (PCDCR), Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)||UNRWA||Norwegian Refugee Council||2018||$60,000||Promoting and Protecting Women’s Housing, Land and Property Rights in The Gaza Strip (OPT-18/P-HR-RL/116023/5834)|
|DCI-P and East-Jerusalem YMCA||Italy||Save the Children||2018||$218,854||OPT_Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Children Ex-Detainees (OPT-18/P-HR-RL/116320/6079)|
|Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)||occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||Oxfam Novib||2018||$400,000||Urgent support for the most vulnerable families in Gaza Strip (OPT-18/ER/115921/5362)|
|Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD), Rural Women’s Development Society (RWDS),Al Walaa Association, Abassan Al Kabira, Future House Association, Khan Younis Khuzaa, Qaa Al Qurain Association, Khan Younis Al Fukhari, Maryam Al Azraa, Rafah UWAC, PARC||occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||Première Urgence Internationale||2018||$300,000||Protect fragile livelihoods of farmers affected by the Great March of Return in the access restricted area (ARA) through urgent livelihood support to restore their agricultural production capacity. (OPT-18/ER/115788/18192)|
|Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), Juzoor, Hayat Center, Palestinian Ministry of Health||Germany||Médecins du Monde France||2018||$968,915||Reinforce the access to quality medical, mental and psychosocial emergency response in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT-18/H/115137/8772)|
|occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||$400,000|
|Union of Health Work Committees (UHWC)||occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||2018||$500,000||Comprehensive Emergency response to immediate health and protection needs of vulnerable population of Gaza Strip to mitigate risks and save lives. (OPT-18/H/115650/15636)|
|Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)||occupied Palestinian territory Humanitarian Fund||2018||$198,654||Monitoring , verification and documentation of possible IHL,IHRL violations, And provision of legal aid to victims in the Gaza Strip (OPT-18/P-HR-RL/115770/13084)|
- For the purposes of this analysis, the UN’s designation “oPt” (occupied Palestinian territory) is retained. This is a political term used by the UN and many NGOs.
- See the European Commission’s definition of these terms.
- EAPPI is a project of the World Council of Churches, which rejects the IHRA working definition of antisemitism. Its policies are a major source of friction with Israel.
- The calculation methodology takes into account the funding requirement by geographical areas (Gaza, Areas A, B, and C of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, H2/Hebron) divided by the “people targeted” for all the clusters in Gaza and in the West Bank. This methodology acknowledges the possibility a double-counting since one Palestinian can benefit from aid provided from multiple projects.