- Following Israel’s response to hundreds of attacks launched from Gaza, the network of international, Palestinian, and Israeli-Arab NGOs have initiated a campaign to replicate the discredited “Goldstone process” of political warfare against Israel, including:
- calling for UN and international “fact-finding missions” to investigate alleged Israeli “war crimes and crimes against humanity”;
- lobbying for International Criminal Court (ICC) “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials;
- promoting arms embargos against Israel.
- The NGOs leading this campaign include Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, FIDH, a coalition of Palestinian NGOs (including Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Badil, Defence for Children International- Palestine Section, Palestinian Center for Human Rights ), and of Israeli-Arab NGOs (such as the NIF -funded Adalah and Mossawa ).
- Goldstone process: The discredited and entirely unprofessional UN fact-finding mission headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, following the 2009 Gaza conflict, was largely based on “cutting and pasting” from unsourced, unverified and highly biased NGO claims. Now, NGOs are again offering to provide “information, assistance, materials or advice.”
- Lobbying for ICC cases: As part of the Goldstone agenda and lawfare campaigns, NGOs have intensively lobbied the ICC Prosecutor to pursue an investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes,” and encouraged the Palestinian Authority to join the ICC in order to press such claims. This is part of a wider campaign to exploit international legal frameworks as a weapon against Israel (lawfare).
- Arms embargo: NGOs, most notably Amnesty International, have again called for a comprehensive arms embargo against Israel, falsely accusing Israel of using weapons obtained from the U.S. and others for illegal attacks. This would deprive Israel of necessary and entirely legitimate self-defense capabilities against missiles and terror. While Amnesty formally calls for an arms embargo of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups, they seek to prevent Israel from enforcing it by a blockade of Gaza.
- Adalah, which signed a July 14 Israeli-Arab NGO joint statement calling for “the UN to initiate a fact-finding mission,” cynically sent a July 10 public letter to the Israeli Defense Minister, demanding “that the competent authorities order an independent investigation.”
- The funders of these NGOs, including the New Israel Fund and European governments, share moral responsibility as enablers in this NGO-led political warfare.
Excerpts from NGO statements:
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Press release: “Unlawful Israeli Airstrikes Kill Civilians,” July 16, 2014:
- The United Nations Human Rights Council should hold a special session to address violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the context of the conflict, Human Rights Watch said. The Council should mandate the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to form a fact-finding mission to impartially investigate, report promptly and publicly on violations by all sides, and issue recommendations to the parties and the UN.
- The European Union and its member countries should support convening a special session and formation of a fact-finding mission.
- The Palestine Liberation Organization should direct President Mahmoud Abbas to seek the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute serious international crimes committed by all parties on Palestinian territory.
- “The longstanding failure of either side to prosecute war crimes in Gaza means that the only meaningful option for justice and accountability is legal proceedings before the International Criminal Court,” Whitson said. “How many more civilians will die as a result of unlawful Israeli attacks before President Abbas submits Palestine to this court?”
- Governments that are providing weapons to Israel, to Hamas, or to armed groups in the Gaza Strip should suspend transfers of any materiel that has been documented or credibly alleged to have been used in violation of international humanitarian law, as well as funding or support for such material, Human Rights Watch said. The US supplies Israel with rotary and fixed wing military aircraft, Hellfire missiles, and other munitions that have been used in illegal airstrikes in Gaza.
Interview with Bill van Esveld, “Targeting civilians ‘is a war crime’ – HRW,” Russia Today, July 12, 2014:
- …We’ve seen virtually no accountability for very well-documented past cases of abuse, violations, and even war crimes, and without accountability and with impunity, then abuses will obviously continue.
- They need to make it clear that there will be accountability for violations and this is going to be looked into and it’s not going to be swept under the carpet as the Goldstone Report was eventually put aside after the terrible carnage in 2008/9. My organization has been calling for the state of Palestine to go to the ICC for a year now, and it’s high time for them to do that.
Press release: “UN must impose arms embargo and mandate an international investigation as civilian death toll rises,” July 11, 2014:
- Amnesty International is calling for a UN-mandated international investigation into violations committed on all sides amidst ongoing Israeli air strikes across the Gaza Strip and continuing volleys of indiscriminate rocket fire from Palestinian armed groups into Israel.
- “As the violence intensifies there is an urgent need for the UN to mandate an international independent fact-finding mission to Gaza and Israel to investigate violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict. This is the first crucial step towards ensuring that those who have committed war crimes or other serious violations can be held accountable,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
- Amnesty International is also calling on the UN to immediately impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups with the aim of preventing further serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights by the parties to the conflict. Pending such an embargo, all states must immediately suspend all transfers of military equipment, assistance and munitions to the parties, which have failed to properly investigate violations committed in previous conflicts or bring those responsible to justice.
Coalition of Israeli-Arab NGOs – Arab Association for Human Rights, Adalah, Mada al-Carmel, Women Against Violence, Kayan Feminist Organization, Mossawa, Association for Arab Youth – Baladna, I’lam, The Galilee Society, Arab Cultural Association, Hirakuna, AlZahraa Organization for the Advancement of Women, Al Qaws
Statement: “Palestinian Civil Society in Israel Demands Urgent Action on Gaza,” July 14, 2014:
- We also urge the UN to initiate a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- We call for an immediate end to hostilities against the Palestinian civilian population of Gaza, and for thorough, independent and genuine investigations to be launched into all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
- We call on the international community to monitor closely the recent escalation of attacks on civilians in the Gaza Strip, and to raise concerns of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity based on the Rome Statute
- We also urge the UN to initiate a fact-finding mission to investigate these events. We further encourage you to keep in contact with the undersigned Palestinian civil society organizations in Israel for information, assistance, materials or advice on the above.
Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) – Addameer, Aldameer, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Badil, Defence for Children International Palestine Section, Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, Hurryyat – Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights, Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights, Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies, Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling, Palestinian Center for Human Rights
- Ensure that perpetrators of violations of international law are held to account, including through the exercise of universal jurisdiction; Unequivocally support Palestinian accession of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in order to ensure that an international forum will be accessible to address the crimes committed during the course of ongoing hostilities in the OPT as well as previously committed and continuing crimes.
Statement: “War crimes in Israel and Palestine: UNSC called to react,” July 10, 2014:
- While justice is essential to deter further the crimes and to build any peace process, impunity has since been the rule and Occupation of Palestine by Israel had kept developing. FIDH recalls its analysis that the current situation falls within the jurisdiction of the ICC and its call for the ICC to be triggered according to appropriate channels.
FIDH supports its members’ call for an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly of State parties to the Geneva Conventions to be convened urgently by Switzerland as the depositary of these Conventions.
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
Statement: July 16, 2014:
Calls upon the international community to act immediately to stop these crimes, and renews the call to the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to ensure that it is respected at all times, and their responsibilities under Article 146 to pursue perpetrators of serious violations of the Convention, which are determined in Article 147, which lists violations of the Convention amounting to war crimes.
Calls for establishing a UN fact-finding mission to investigate suspected war crimes committed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and take necessary steps to prosecute responsible for them.
PCHR, Al-Dameer, Al Mezan (posted as press release by Badil)
- The human rights organizations strongly condemns the escalating Israeli offensive, and stresses that the international community’s neglect of their legal obligations towards the civilian population, including ignoring the Advisory Opinion issued ten years ago by the International Court of Justice concerning the Wall in the West Bank and the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Gaza Conflict (the Goldstone Report), has enhanced impunity in committing grave breaches of the international law, which encourages Israeli forces to commit more crimes against the Palestinian civilian population.
- …call upon the international community to immediately and effectively act to fulfill their legal and moral obligations towards the Palestinian civilian population through stopping the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, providing protection for civilians and activating mechanism of accountability and prosecution of those who order or commit war crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property in the Gaza Strip. They further call upon President Mahmoud Abbas to immediately ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in order to prosecute suspected Israeli war criminals and ensure they do not enjoy impunity.