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May 9, 2013 10:52 am

NGO Monitor: B’Tselem Report Includes ‘Fundamental Distortions of International Law’

avatar by Zach Pontz

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The skyline of Gaza City. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A report released Thursday by the Israeli organization B’Tselem, on the November conflict between Israel and Gaza terrorists that “challenges the common perception in the Israeli public and media that the operation was ‘surgical’ and caused practically no fatalities among uninvolved Palestinian civilians,” is itself being challenged by NGO Monitor.

Based on a press release provided by B’Tselem, the report has received much attention in the press, but NGO Monitor argues in a statement posted to its website that “the claims in the press release are inconsistent with the actual report, creating false perceptions in the media.

“The press statement claims that the ‘report raises suspicions that the military violated International Humanitarian Law (IHL).’ But these allegations are not demonstrated in the report; at best, they are the result of conjecture, as B’Tselem itself acknowledges in the report.”

NGO Monitor argues that “The report text clearly reflects the limited information available – largely ‘eyewitness interviews’ (including via telephone) in Gaza, whose accuracy cannot be independently verified” and that “The report includes a number of fundamental distortions of international law.”

An example given of the latter argument is of allegations made against the IDF that “In some cases a warning was given. Yet, even in those cases, residents were not always given sufficient time to leave their homes, and then, after the warning, it was not ascertained that the residents had indeed left.”

“In reality, under international law,” NGO Monitor argues, “states are required only to provide general warnings to civilians to seek safety and only to the extent that such warnings are feasible under the circumstances; the effectiveness of warnings is not judged on the basis of whether the warnings were followed.”

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