NGO Monitor, a project of the Institute for NGO Research,1 an organization in Special Consultative Status with UN ECOSOC since 2013, presents this submission to the Commission of Inquiry on the 2018 protests in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” (Commission or COI). Since our founding in 2002, our organization has systematically analyzed various UN commissions of inquiry (COIs), identifying both best practices for fact finding as well as fundamental flaws that often undermine the credibility of their conclusions and recommendations.2 We have also published numerous books and articles on the laws of armed conflict, international human rights law, arms proliferation, terror financing, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In contrast to the disinformation advanced by UN officials and NGOs, characterizing the events as “peaceful protests,” the “Gaza marches” represent an eight-month long (and continuing) organized military operation to attack and breach the Israeli border. This military campaign is not only intended to attack Israeli military installations and abduct IDF soldiers, but it is intended to terrorize, to cause wanton destruction, and to inflict bodily harm to Israeli civilians. Civilians living in the “Gaza envelope” (communities that abut the border) have been particularly hard hit.
Given the nature of the events on the Gaza border, it is unfortunate that the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appears to have yet again established a one-sided Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel, aimed at cementing false narratives about the Gaza operation. Under UNHRC auspices, past commissions have had a poor record in providing objective and constructive reports regarding Israel. In our many publications (selections listed in footnote 2), we have highlighted several concerns plaguing UNHRC commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions (FFMs) relating to the Arab-Israeli conflict. These issues include biased mandates; lack of transparency; lack of IHL and military expertise; extensive reliance, without verification or corroboration, on claims made by highly politicized and terror linked- NGOs; faulty legal analysis; omission of relevant facts; and ignoring of Palestinian violations.
In light of this history, we urge the current COI to strictly implement best practices, and avoid and prevent yet another biased report without credibility. Doing so will enhance policy development and civilian protection and help improve the tarnished reputation of the UN Human Rights Council. We hope that our submission will make a valuable contribution to this effort.
- Members of the Institute’s Advisory Board include Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; former Canadian Ambassador to Israel, Amb. Vivian Bercovici; Amb. John Bolton, US National Security Advisor and former US Permanent Representative to the UN; Hon. Michael Danby, MP, senior member of the Australian Labor Party; Harvard Professor Prof. Alan Dershowitz; Canadian Senator, Hon. Linda Frum; best-selling author and commentator and British journalist and international affairs commentator, Tom Gross; Colonel Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan; Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, best-selling author and commentator; former Member of Italian Parliament, Hon. Fiamma Nirenstein, UCLA Professor and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, Prof. Judea Pearl; US Jurist and former Legal Advisor to the State Department Judge Abraham Sofaer; Dr. Einat Wilf, former member of Knesset with the Israel Labor Party and advisor to Shimon Peres; Harvard Professor Prof. Ruth Wisse; R. James Woolsey, former US Director of Central Intelligence; and Israeli Supreme Court Justice, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.
- These publications include “NGO Fact Finding for IHL Enforcement: In Search of a New Model,” (Israel Law Review 2018); Filling in the Blanks: Documenting Missing Dimensions in UN and NGO Investigations of the Gaza Conflict (2015); “When International Law Blocks the Flow: The Strange Case of the Kidron Valley Sewage Plant,” (Regents Journal of International Law 2014); “Kiobel and Corporate Complicity,” (American Journal of International Law 2013); Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding (Nijhoff 2012); “IHL 2.0: Is there a Role for Social Media in Monitoring and Enforcement,” (Israel Law Review 2012); Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding (Nijhoff 2012); The Goldstone Report ‘Reconsidered’: A Critical Analysis (2010); and many other articles and reports.