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Amnesty Researcher Admits That Palestinian ‘Eyewitnesses’ Often Lie

May 9, 2014 1:17 am 10 comments

Donatella Rovera. Photo: Elders of Ziyon.

Donatella Rovera, an Amnesty field investigator, wrote an interesting article about the challenges of fact finding in war situations.

One of her main points is that eyewitnesses are often unreliable. For example:

In Gaza, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and other places I interviewed civilians who described what they thought were artillery or bomb strikes being launched by far away government forces and striking near their homes – whereas in reality the loud bangs and tremors were caused by mortars or rockets being launched by opposition fighters from their positions nearby. For the untrained ear it is virtually impossible to distinguish between incoming and outgoing fire, and all the more so for those who find themselves close to the frontlines.

Another factor she mentions:

Even if they disregard it, investigators must be alert to the fact that disinformation and misinformation can contribute to shaping the perception of events, the narrative surrounding the events, and the behaviour of people who take it in good faith and internalize it, including victims, witnesses, and others potential sources.

Here Rovera  is referring to lies that spread quickly and then become widely believed – including by “unbiased” NGOs – before anyone has a chance to investigate. How many times have we seen that?

She gives a specific example from Gaza:

Fear can lead victims and witnesses to withhold evidence or give deliberately erroneous accounts of incidents. In Gaza, I received partial or inaccurate information by relatives of civilians accidentally killed in accidental explosions or by rockets launched by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel that had malfunctioned and of civilians killed by Israeli strikes on nearby Palestinian armed groups’ positions. When confronted with other evidence obtained separately, some said they feared reprisals by the armed groups.

Meaning that “eyewitnesses” will often claim that there was no terrorist activity in the area of an airstrike and Israel wantonly and indiscriminately killed people for no reason.

This gets wholly believed and parroted by the UN and other NGOs.  The Goldstone Report has many such examples.

Unfortunately, in many cases the NGOs themselves are part of the problem. Rovera  admits, a little elliptically:

Conflict situations create highly politicized and polarized environments, which may affect even individuals and organizations with a proven track record of credible and objective work. Players and interested parties go to extraordinary lengths to manipulate or manufacture “evidence” for both internal and external consumption.

It is a shame that Rovera didn’t include Amnesty International itself as being guilty of this, and she ascribes the lack of objectivity almost only to fake evidence that is created by one side rather than to the ideological desire to find war crimes when none exist.

They might strenuously deny it, but Amnesty and HRW have systemic biases against Israel. This article, while a step in the right direction, only scratches the surface of how NGOs themselves contribute to the culture of lies in order to issue their reports and maintain their funding without doing basic fact checks.

And while Rovera notes that some “eyewitnesses” act out of fear, she doesn’t go far enough. At least in the territories, the lies about Israel are repeated so often that the witnesses will often  tell Western reporters and researchers what they expect to hear rather than what happened. This isn’t necessarily out of fear; it is part of their culture to ensure that Israel is always blamed no matter what. It saturates their media. I cannot count how many times “eyewitness” accounts were found to be complete fiction, and fear didn’t enter into the equation. However, many of the “witnesses” happen to work for the largest employer in the West Bank – the PA – which lies constantly.

Not to mention that many anti-Israel activists that will knowingly repeat the most outrageous lies to further their own agenda.

Lets hope that this article can at least open up the discussion of how inaccurate much of the reporting and research is about Israel, even from NGOs that pretend to be objective.


  • These reporters are,at best,guilty of incompetence, misfeasance, and negligence. If they themselves doubt or should doubt the information such doubts should be clearly stated. More realistically most of these NGOs get their money from governments and those who seek to delegitimize Israel and they obey their masters. The shame is the damage they do and their abuse of their position

  • It’s almost as if these agencies are being paid to misrepresent events.

    • Yes, if not in money, then possibly in permission to move about, to interview and to observe in places which might otherwise be inaccessible.

  • Eileen Vicente

    Lies about Jews have always destroyed us. In the book, “The Devil that Never Dies” there is no end to the lies that are exposed about us that have caused us nothing but grief, torture and premature death. From Henry Ford to Edison and Shakespeare throughout history animals such as these have stolen our rights and meligned us. Society won’t admit the truth even though it punches them in the face! It’s called the Muslim cult that is murdering innocent good people. This murderous group is destroying the world economy and taking away freedom all over the world. And, once again, it is with their lies that we Jews are being despised for no reason.

  • If lies are coming out of west bank, all the more reason why Israel has no choice but to take back total control of the west bank. No more self rule. The arabs/muslim population can become citizens of the west bank just like the jewish people and they can live in their communities or wherever they want. The police will be jewish police force. The rules will be made in the Israeli knesset for how to behave.They will pay taxes just like the rest of the population of Israel. They can have all the human rights but absolutely no civil rights ie no voting rights. If their heart is not loving the state of Israel they have no right to vote. They do have the right to live their lives, practice there culture and religion, go to university, acquire any profession they wish but no right to rule within the state of Israel. WHY allow another foreign power to dictate what happens in Israel. Nonsense. If they don’t like it, they do have the choice to emigrate somewhere else just like citizens of every other country in the world.

    • Do you remember when buses, restaurants, movie houses, and many more public places were attacked and blown up? Do you remember the deaths and maiming of so many innocents? It would be too dangerous to let the Palestinians from the West Bank become Israeli citizens. I know that not all of that population would take part in jihad, but unfortunately, Israel cannot take the chance of allowing so many potential bombers in.

  • judy weleminsky

    Good people are being taken in by these lies – and Israel is wrongly cast as monster

  • I strongly suspect that most people are fully aware that the PA, Fatah, Iran, Hamas, etc. are often lying to defame Jews and delegitimize Israel – but are quite willing to buy into those lies as a justification for hating Jews and trashing Israel.

    Since when have anti Semites needed an honest reason to be anti Semites? Cases in point : the old saw about the Jew as “Christ killer” and the past nine hundred years of “blood libel” charges.

  • The Arab UN relays fundamentally on lies to gain credibility in the world forum. So the Philistines do not have to prove any truth . Terrorist acts that happened against Jews has a 2 second life on the screen, the contrived wailing by Philistines has 2 minute on the screen. Better performance.

  • Barry Meridian

    Once the world saw the lies the Palestinians made up in Jenin in 02, the Pals started to have fake funerals of Palestinians they said were killed in Jenin by Israel.

    Watch this video from Jenin in 02 of fake funeral by the Palestinians staged for the media to gain public sympathy for the Palestinians” until the “corpse” falls off and magically regains consciousness. A definite contender for Best Pallywood Video of the Year Award.

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