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February 27, 2014 12:56 pm

Watchdog NGO Monitor Slams Amnesty Report on IDF as False, Malicious and Lacking Credibility

avatar by Joshua Levitt

cover of Amnesty International's report about the IDF. Photo: Screenshot.

cover of Amnesty International's report about the IDF. Photo: Screenshot.

NGO Monitor, the Jerusalem-based charity watchdog, on Thursday condemned a report from Amnesty International as “falsely and maliciously” accusing Israel of “callous disregard for human life.”

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, said Amnesty “should be ashamed of its role in exploiting the moral foundations of universal human rights to wage political warfare against Israel.”

“Once again, Amnesty displays its disproportionate and ideological obsession with Israel,” Steinberg said in a statement. “The report’s publication coincides with the antisemitic BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement’s annual week of anti-Israel activities, using demonization to promote boycotts and sanctions.”

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In its report, Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank, NGO Monitor said Amnesty made unfounded and misleading accusations against the Israel Defense Forces. “No definitions or comparative data is provided to support Amnesty’s politicized allegations that Israeli forces are ‘trigger happy’ and ‘reckless,'” NGO Monitor said. “Amnesty International’s accusations are reckless, blatantly biased, and reflect the lack of a credible research fact-finding methodology.”

NGO Monitor cited a February 10 interview of Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty, who acknowledged to Al Jazeera that “we are not an expert (sic) on military matters. So we don’t want to, kind of, pontificate on issues we don’t really understand.”

NGO Monitor said it has also previously shown that Amnesty’s “research” team on Israel comprises two individuals with backgrounds in anti-Israel political activism, not military or legal expertise. There were no names published as authors of this report.

On Thursday, the IDF responded that, in 2013, there were 5,000 incidents of Palestinian Arabs throwing rocks at Israelis, equivalent to 75 incidents per day, with half of those along main roads. As a result, 132 Israelis were injured last year, nearly double the count in 2012.

“Sadly, rock throwing and violent demonstrations present only part of the operational challenges posed to the IDF by Palestinian violence in Judea and Samaria,” the IDF said in a statement. “Indeed, in 2013 there were 66 further terror attacks which included shootings, the planting of IEDs, blunt weapon attacks and the abduction and murder of a soldier.”

The content of the 85-page Amnesty report relied mainly on testimonies of the families of young Arab men, such as 22-year-old Muhammad Asfur, whose friends acknowledged in the report that he was throwing rocks at IDF soldiers, that he refused their calls to back down and then was undeterred by a round of vile-smelling teargas. The IDF responded by firing rubber bullets at Asfur from 100-feet away, hitting him in the head, causing the wound from which he died from in the hospital later that day.

“Amnesty lacks the expertise and credibility to analyze or assign blame for deaths in the context of violent confrontations in the West Bank,” Steinberg said. “As in the past, the allegations in this report repeat unverifiable Palestinian ‘testimony.'”

Amnesty makes numerous non-specific claims without any supporting evidence,” he said. “In contrast, other monitoring groups, such as B’Tselem, acknowledge that the majority of Palestinian casualties occurred during combat or violent clashes and confrontations with Israeli security personnel.”

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