May 24, 2012
Contact: Jason Edelstein
Half the Story: Analysis of
Amnesty’s 2012 World Report
JERUSALEM – In response to Amnesty International’s 2012 World Report, NGO Monitor today released the following statement:
· As in many previous reports, Amnesty continues to level unsupported allegations of violations of international law against Israel, including "collective punishment." In contrast, the organization expressed uncertainty regarding the legal significance of the murder of more than 8,000 Syrians by Bashar al-Assad, claiming that these deaths "may have constituted crimes against humanity". Israel is mentioned 137 times in the report as opposed to 74 mentions for the Syrian regime.
· In the 2012 report, Amnesty accuses Israel of "collective punishment" (pg 48) of the Palestinian population, in the form of a blockade against Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas. In making this false claim, the authors of Amnesty’s report have stripped away the context. For instance, the organization ignores that Israel’s blockade was implemented to stop the smuggling of weapons and rockets used to target Israeli citizens. In September 2011, the UN Secretary General’s Palmer Committee found that the naval blockade of Gaza is legal under international law, explicitly rejecting Amnesty’s claims. In addition, Amnesty fails to report on the thousands of tons of goods provided by Israel to Gaza every week.
· Amnesty also minimizes the ongoing rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians ranging from Ashkelon and beyond, and terrorizing over one million Israelis, who flee to bomb shelters and suffer severe psychological trauma with every attack. While Amnesty label’s Israel’s actions as "crimes" under international law, it fails to use this designation for the thousands of indiscriminate Palestinian rocket attacks – every one of which is a war crime.
· In a few brief references to attacks, this report blandly states that Palestinian groups "fired indiscriminate rockets and mortars into southern Israel, killing two people and endangering the lives of others." (pg. 267) The phrasing "lives of others" is a gross understatement for characterizing an ongoing campaign of rocket attacks targeting Israeli population centers.
· Amnesty continues to level the false claim that Israel had "failed to conduct independent investigations into alleged war crimes by Israeli forces during Operation ‘Cast Lead’." Israel has conducted hundreds of investigations into the events relating to the 2008-09 war. Judge Mary McGowan Davis, empanelled by the Human Rights Council to lead the follow-up committee to the Goldstone Report, found that "Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza." Judge Goldstone, himself, has noted "our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree."
· Amnesty’s report again repeats unsupported Palestinian casualty claims, which, as in the case of the 2009 Goldstone Report on the Gaza war, are often demonstrably false. For example, in the summary of the response to attempts to storm Israel’s borders in May 2011, the report claims that "Up to 35 people were reportedly killed when Israeli soldiers fired at thousands of Palestinian refugees and others who protested on 15 May and 5 June at the Lebanese border with Israel and the Syrian border with the Israeli-occupied Golan." (pg187). The claim of 35 killed is not supported by any credible sources.
· Amnesty continues to repeat the claims of unreliable Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, without any independent review. For example the report cites the findings of Yesh Din, despite the fact that the methodology it employs has been discredited.
· The false allegations and double standards in the Amnesty report reflect the employment of Deborah Hyams, whose history of anti-Israel activism is well documented, as a researcher for "Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Authority". In 2008, Hyams was signatory to a letterclaiming Israel is "a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land." In 2002 Hyams "said that while she does not condone suicide bombings, she personally believes they ‘are in response to the occupation.’" Hyams has worked for a number of radical advocacy NGOs, including the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Jews for Justice in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), Rachel Corrie Foundation, and Ma’an Network.