Israeli Watchdog Criticizes UN Gaza War Report for Sourcing From Non-Transparent NGOs
by Eliezer Sherman
Several of the nongovernmental organizations that fed the United National Human Rights Council with information leading to its allegations of Israeli and Hamas war crimes during Operation Protective Edge last summer have shown a lack of financial accountability and therefore transparency, a prominent Israeli watchdog reported on Tuesday.
Specifically, NGO Monitor indicated three NGOs that do not “publish financial information, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.”
Among those groups reported by NGO Monitor are the Gaza-based Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, which was cited 21 times in the U.N. findings, including providing photographs of a home bombed by Israeli jets.
Another of the groups was Al-Haq, a Palestinian rights group that calls for the Palestinian ‘Right of Return’ to be implemented for the refugees of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence and their descendants, which discussed rolling power outages in Gaza throughout the war, and “24 strikes involving ambulances and medical personnel.”
The third was Al-Dameer, which provides legal assistance to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention centers. The group was cited 14 times, and discussed what it called “unabated” settler violence in the West Bank against Palestinians and their property during the crisis last summer.
Israel refused to cooperate with the U.N. fact-finding mission on Operation Protective Edge, releasing its own report on June 11 instead.
The U.N. report indicated that both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes in last summer’s 50-day war. NGO Monitor noted that the report was more balanced than the so-called Goldstone Report on the 2008-2009 Gaza war, but said the reliance on NGOs hurt the report’s credibility.
NGO Monitor criticized the U.N. panel headed by former New York supreme court judge Mary McGowan Davis for taking “quotes extensively from biased and unreliable political advocacy non-governmental organizations.”
“Although these groups lack credibility and do not employ professional fact-finding standards, the [Commission of Inquiry] repeated the NGOs’ unverifiable factual claims and allegations of Israeli ‘war crimes,’” said NGO Monitor.
Among the NGOs that the U.N. commission sought out for information were B’Tselem (69 citations), whose so-called Black Flag Report on Operation Protective Edge is mentioned 28 times, Amnesty International (53) and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (50), which had reported on the number of Palestinian casualties in the 2014 Gaza war and provided the commission with photo evidence of sites targeted by Israeli airstrikes.
The report also quoted Breaking the Silence, a highly controversial Israeli NGO that claims to gather testimonies of soldiers who have fought in Israeli wars and allege wanton IDF abuse against Palestinians. Earlier this month, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, tried to prevent an exhibition by the group from taking place in Zurich.