See here for NGO Monitor’s press release, “UN Report on Gaza: Improvement Over Goldstone, But NGO Reliance Hurts Credibility,” June 22, 2015

The report of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on the 2014 Gaza War, headed by William Schabas and then Mary McGowan Davis after the former’s resignation over his undisclosed paid work for the PLO, quotes extensively from biased and unreliable political advocacy non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Although these groups lack credibility and do not employ professional fact-finding standards, the COI repeated the NGOs’ unverifiable factual claims and allegations of Israeli “war crimes.”

European government funding enables these NGOs, as does funding from private foundations such as the New Israel Fund (NIF). Without the financial support and public backing from their donors, these fringe advocacy organizations would not have a platform to disseminate their propaganda.

An initial review of the “Report of the detailed findings of the independent commission of inquiry established pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution S-21/1” shows that the unverified claims of NGOs were referenced, cited, and quoted at a high volume, in contrast to accepted international fact-finding standards:

NGO Number of References Donors
B’Tselem 69 European Union, France, DanChurch Aid (Denmark), Diakonia (Sweden), Norway, Christian Aid Ireland, EED (Germany), UNICEF, Catholic Relief Services (US), World Vision, Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), ICCO (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), UK, the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund.
Amnesty International 53
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) 50 European Union, UN OCHA ($577,000 in 2014 for a Gaza “Crisis Appeal Request”), Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Open Society Foundations (US), Christian Aid (UK), Grassroots International (US), Kvina Till Kvina (Sweden), Al-Quds Association Malaga (Spain), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), and DanChurchAid (Denmark).
Al-Mezan 29 Does not publish financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) 22
Al Haq 19 Does not publish financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
Physicians for Human Rights- Israel 16 European Commission, Diakonia (Sweden), Medico International (Germany), Medico International- Switzerland, EED (Germany), Holland, and HEKS-EPER (Switzerland).
Al-Dameer 14 Does not publish financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.
Hamoked 12 Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), CCFD (France), Ford Israel Fund (USA), The French Consulate, Misereor (Germany), the Netherlands, New Israel Fund, Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Royal Norwegian Embassy, Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), Sivmo (Netherlands), Trocaire (Ireland), Spanish International Development Cooperation Office (AECID), UNDP, and others.
Breaking the Silence 8 European Union, Misereor (Germany), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Norway, AECID (Spain), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), ICCO (Netherlands), CCFD (France), Human Rights and International Law Secretariat, Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), SIVMO (Netherlands), Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Open Society Institute, New Israel Fund, and others.
Adalah 8 European Union, Switzerland, Germany (via EED and Medico International), Spain (via ACSUR), Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands), Christian Aid (UK), UN Development Programme (UNDP), New Israel Fund, Ford Foundation, and Open Society Institute.
Yesh Din 5 European Union, UK, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), HEKS-EFER (Switzerland), Oxfam NOVIB (Netherlands), New Israel Fund (NIF), Open Society Institute, and the Moriah Fund.
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) 5 United States (State Department’s MEPI program), Diakonia (Sweden), European Union, Christian Aid (UK), NDC, Norway, Netherlands, Oxfam, EED (Germany), and Kerk in Actie (Netherlands).
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) 4 Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), ICCO (Netherlands), Cordaid (Netherlands), Kios (Finland), Royal Netherlands Embassy in Tel Aviv, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv, SIVMO (Netherlands), The Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK), Trocaire (Ireland), United Nations Voluntary Funds for Victims of Torture, and others.
FIDH 4 EU, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, Ford Foundation, NED, Open Society Foundation.
Addameer 3 Does not publish financial information, reflecting lack of transparency and accountability. 2010 annual report (latest available) “acknowledge[s] the support and advocacy” of Christian Aid (UK), ICCO (Netherlands), Ireland, NGO Development Center, Paz con Dignidad (Spain), Solidaridad Internacional (Spain), Solidarity for Development and Peace (Sodepaz), The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and others.
Military Court Watch 3 MCW is “fiscally sponsored by Dalia Association.”
Gisha 2 European Commission, United Kingdom, Oxfam GB, Trocaire (Ireland), Oxfam Novib (the Netherlands), Irish Aid, Norway, UNDP, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), and Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands).
Norwegian Refugee Council 2 Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ECHO (EU), Europe Aid (EU), SIDA (Sweden), DFID (UK), UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA and others.
Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling 2 2014 “financial supporters and international project partners” include: Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat (joint government funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Norway, European Union, Germany, Canada, Iceland, Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Dan Church Aid (Denmark), Bread for the World (Germany), Open Society Institute, Caritas Switzerland, UNDP, and Broederlijk Delen (Belgium).
Gaza Community Mental Health Center 1 UNDP, UNRWA, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Norwegian Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority, Bread for the World (Germany), Quaker Service Norway, National Endowment for Democracy (US), Medico International Switzerland, Deutsche Geselischaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (Germany), Grassroots International (USA), and others.

Examples of NGO factual claims and allegations repeated by the COI

B’Tselem – 69 citations

  • B’Tselem’s Black Flag report is cited 28 times. (See NGO Monitor’s Emotion, Not Law: A Critical Reading of B´Tselem´s “Black Flag” Report.)
  • “Along with the Attorney General, the MAG reportedly regularly participated in cabinet meetings regarding the 2014 hostilities. B’Tselem, Israeli authorities have proven they cannot investigate suspected violations of international humanitarian law by Israel in the Gaza Strip…” (¶ 619 and footnote there)
  • “The commission has analysed one such document, dated 10 July 2014, which discloses the MAG’s reasoning for closing an investigation into the case of a 14-year-old boy killed on 19 March 2014…. The MPCID investigation concluded that the IDF acted in full accordance with open-fire regulations, and therefore found no grounds for criminal proceedings…. An investigation by B’Tselem concluded that the boy ‘posed no danger to any other persons’.” (¶ 639)
  • “NGO B’Tselem recorded 473 administrative detainees, as at the end of August 2014, which appears to be the highest number of administrative detainees since April 2009.”  (¶ 413)
  •  “The commission observes, however, that some of the incidents examined in this section raise serious concerns regarding the effectiveness of ‘roof-knocking’.”(¶ 235-237)

Amnesty International – 53 citations

  • “In addition, during the escalation of hostilities, the number of IDF positions in the south of Israel around Gaza, sometimes close to civilian communities, was higher than usual, as this area was used to position artillery and as a staging ground for the IDF ground operation in Gaza.” (¶ 88)
  • “According to media accounts and reports from Palestinian NGOs, around 20 residents in surrounding buildings were injured.” (¶ 210)
  • “Amnesty International found that ‘the conflict provided renewed evidence that vulnerable communities in Israel, particularly Bedouin villages in Israel’s southern Negev/Naqab region, many of which are not officially recognized by the Israeli government, lacked protection.’” (¶ 567)
  • “As pointed out by Amnesty International, the village of Kaser Al-Ser was recognized by the State of Israel in 1999, but its infrastructure remains rudimentary and it is threatened by demolition. According to Amnesty International, the family did not receive compensation from the authorities after the attack because the victim’s home was due to be demolished anyway.” (¶ 21)

Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – 50 citations

  • “According to the commission’s assessment, on the basis of witness statements; photos of the site and of remnants of weapons; building plans;  the combination of damage caused; and the small amount of fragments shown; indicate that the house was most likely struck by a MPR 500 lb bomb fitted with JDAM.” (¶ 176)
  • “On 29 July 2014, at approximately 4.30 a.m., a guided bomb was launched on the Dheir family house in Rafah. In total, 19 family members were killed including 9 children and 7 women one of the women was 6 months pregnant. Another 3 children suffered serious injuries. Photos provided to the commission by two sources show a completely destroyed building, with only rubble and cement blocks remaining.” (¶ 181)
  • “Hamas has indicated that it ‘is determined (…) to promote the rule of law, the respect for the judiciary, the separation of powers, the respect for human rights, the equality among citizens; to fight all forms of discrimination; to protect public liberties, including the freedom of the press and opinion …’ Speech delivered by Prime Minister Isma’il Haniya at the conference organized by the PCHR on “The New Government and the Agenda for Human Rights”. Gaza, June 2006.”  (¶ 45 and footnote there)

Al Mezan – 29 citations

  • “While the IDF has not so specified, its current rules appear to permit using 155mm artillery against targets located 100 meters from civilian homes (while the safety margin is 250 meters from IDF forces), as pointed out by a group of NGOs in 2006.”(¶ 412)
  • “…IDF planes destroyed the two storey house of Majed Al Batsh….Two adjacent houses belonging to two brothers of Majed Al Batsh and a third house belonging to a neighbor were also severely damaged. At least 17 people were killed immediately.” (¶ 158) (See NGO Monitor’s Emotion, Not Law: A Critical Reading of B´Tselem´s “Black Flag” Report for a list of family members who were members of Hamas, not civilians.)
  • “Witnesses interviewed by the commission said that there had been no warning before the strike. They also insisted that there were no militants in the house, and that the neighborhood was calm at the time of the attack.” (¶ 198)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) – 22 citations

  • “According to Human Rights Watch, the ‘lethal radius for a 155mm high explosive projectile […] is reportedly between 50 and 150 meters and the expected casualty radius is between 100 and 300 meters [and] the error radius for a 155mm shell is usually 25 meters.’” (¶ 412)
  • “based on an inspection of the impact mark on the pavement, a hole in the concrete about 12 centimetres deep and 15 centimetres wide, Human Rights Watch concluded that the strike was most likely caused by a spike guided missile that produces fragments that reach up to 20 meters from impact.” (footnote to ¶ 443)
  • “Eyewitnesses also told Human Rights Watch that, on 24 July, a group of 16 elderly men and adolescents carrying a white flag came under fire near the Tawhid mosque, in the north-western part of Khuza’a, at around 8 p.m. One man died on the spot and another died of his injuries in the following hours.” (¶ 318)

Al Haq – 19 citations

  • “At least 24 strikes involving ambulances and medical personnel were reported” (¶ 462)
  • “Gaza experienced power outages of 22 hours a day during the hostilities.” (¶ 582).
  • “According to the Palestinian Human Rights Coalition, 407 Palestinians died as a result of delays in the delivery of medical aid.” (¶ 460)

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) – 16 citations

  • Physicians for Human Rights reports that there may have been a “roof-knock” warning, which shattered glass and killed one of the cousins. (¶ 191)
  • The witnesses said that five of the women could not be buried because their bodies had “evaporated”, indicating that the blast disintegrated the bodies. The eyewitness said that no warning was given prior to the attack. The witness’s account is corroborated by Physicians for Human Rights (¶ 159 and footnote there)
  • On the basis of their research into large numbers of attacks of houses, many NGOs have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the warnings issued during Operation Protective Edge. (¶ 263)

Al-Dameer – 14 citations

  • “Nevertheless, the commission received information indicating that settler violence against Palestinians and their property continued unabated.” (¶ 506)
  • “However, the commission reviewed information suggesting that cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was used extensively during interrogations in the period under examination.”(¶ 516)

HaMoked – 12 citations

  • “According to information reviewed by the commission, on 2 July 2014, the IDF demolished a home in Ithna, Hebron, belonging to the family of a suspect accused of killing an Israeli policeman in April 2014. As a result, a mother and her five children lost their home.” (¶ 526)
  • “In each case, the NGO HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice to challenge the legality of the home demolitions and prevent them from taking place.  According to the information received by the commission, the High Court of Justice repeatedly dismissed the petitions, with the exception of one case, in which it issued an order nisi, instructing the state to explain why it should not refrain from carrying out the demolition.” (¶ 528)

Breaking the Silence – 8 citations

  • “…anecdotal testimonies by IDF soldiers, indicate that the vast scale of destruction may have been adopted as tactics of war.” (¶ 418)
  • “It’s not like in every building that was struck in Shuja’iya there was some Hamas militant or somebody firing at our forces.” (¶ 291)
  • “The idea was to minimize casualties on our side, and to use as much of our arsenal as was needed to eliminate any chance of there being someone inside.” (¶ 391)