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June 10, 2022 1:56 pm

Al-Haq: The Ugly Truth About Media’s Favorite Palestinian ‘Human Rights’ NGO

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine senior figure Shawan Jabareen, who serves as Al-Haq’s general director. Photo: Screenshot.

“Palestinian human rights NGO” Al-Haq — which was designated a terrorist organization by Israel last year over its links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) —  is something of a media darling with many of the world’s leading news organizations.

As HonestReporting’s own data shows, the group has received no fewer than 5,200 mentions in the mainstream media in the last 12 months alone.

For example, just last week, British news outlet The Guardian quoted an Al-Haq staff member at length in a report — that the NGO had helped produce — which accused Israel of committing “indirect” chemical warfare in defending itself from Hamas rocket fire last May.

When Al-Haq’s terror designation was announced, The New York Times lavished praise on the group, describing it as one of the “stalwarts of Palestinian civil society” that was known for its “rigorous documentation, monitoring, data collection and international advocacy” that has been “vital to revealing the reality on the ground.”

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But while Al-Haq is depicted by mainstream media outlets as a reputable Palestinian human rights NGO, this could not be further from the truth.

As HonestReporting has previously highlighted, Al-Haq’s long-standing links to the PFLP, designated a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union, are well known.

Documented ties between Al-Haq and the PFLP include:

  • Al-Haq’s director since 2006, Shawan Jabarin, served as a senior PFLP official in the past and maintained close ties to PFLP operatives. He was tried and convicted for his role in the PFLP and has served multiple prison sentences. In 2007, a judge described Jabarin as a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some of his time is spent in conducting a human rights organization, and some as an operative in an organization which has no qualms regarding murder and attempted murder, which have no relation whatsoever to rights. Quite the opposite, they reject the most basic right of all, without which there are no other rights, that is, the right to life.”
  • Al-Haq’s former Director of the Skills and Training Department, Ziyad Muhammad Shehadeh Hmeidan, held that post until 2017 and was arrested over his affiliation with PFLP “terrorist operations” several times.
  • Al-Haq employee Zahi Abdul Hadi Muhammad Jaradat was involved in Al-Haq’s fundraising, and was similarly arrested over PFLP links.
  • Majed Omar Daud Abbadi, who worked at Al-Haq until 2016 as Project and Planning Director, was involved in the PFLP for a number of years.

Furthermore, an examination of Al-Haq’s publication archives reveals the group has long acted as an apologist for other designated terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

For example, in a report published in 2001 — during the height of the Second Intifada, a wave of terrorism characterized by Palestinian stabbing and suicide attacks targeting Israelis — Al-Haq accused Israeli security forces of killing “a number of prominent Palestinian activists” in an extra-judicial fashion.

They include an “activist in the Hamas organization,” who Al-Haq named as Ibrahim Bani Audi. Also known as Ibrahim Abdel Karim Bani, he was a senior Hamas leader in Nablus, a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict, and an expert bomb maker.

In the report, Al-Haq claims Bani was killed by Israeli security forces while on furlough from prison after having been locked up by the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, sources from the time stated that PA leader Yasser Arafat actually had ordered the release of Bani and others so their “skills” could be put to use in the ongoing Second Intifada.

Another case highlighted by Al-Haq was that of Jamal Abdul Razeq, who the NGO reported was assassinated by Israel while driving in the Gaza Strip alongside his passenger:

According to information available to Al-Haq, Razeq and his passenger Awni ldheir, were on their way from Rafah to Khan Yunis. The moment their car stopped at a military check post located on the road leading to the Morag settlement, a plain-clothes member of the Israeli security forces fired a barrage of bullets from his machine gun at the car. A military vehicle parked at the check post also opened fire. Shooting continued unabated for about one minute.

Again, archived reports from the time tell a different story.

Jamal Abdul Razeq was actually a Fatah commander, and was traveling with two other militia members at the time. Israeli soldiers had attempted to arrest Razeq — who was responsible for a litany of attacks on Israeli targets — before he deliberately tried to crash into a military checkpoint. The car he was traveling in reportedly contained munitions.

Other “activists” that Al-Haq claimed were wrongly killed by Israel include a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member and several Hamas operatives.

At the same time that Al-Haq was glossing over the barbaric actions of Palestinian terrorists, the terrorist organizations that these individuals belonged were committing deadly acts of terror across Israel.

Other reports reveal a similar tendency to excuse and justify Palestinian terrorism.

A 1988 report, which purported to document “human rights violations” during the First Intifada, claimed that the “popular uprising by the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories should have come as a surprise to no one,” adding the “uprising has primarily been an act of collective anger, a reaction to twenty years of expropriation, disenfranchisement, oppression and frustration.”

As HonestReporting has detailed though, the First Intifada was in fact four years of violent demonstrations that involved Palestinians attacking the IDF and Israeli civilians with more than 3,600 Molotov cocktails, 100 hand grenades, 600 shootings, and tens of thousands of rock-throwing attacks. Sixteen Israeli civilians and 11 IDF soldiers were killed, with 1,400 Israeli civilians, and 1,700 IDF soldiers injured. Approximately 1,100 Palestinians were killed in violent riots against IDF soldiers.

It is clear, therefore, that Al-Haq has a long history of excusing Palestinian terrorism while masquerading as an unimpeachable human rights defender.

Media outlets that consistently use Al-Haq as a trustworthy source should take note of this uncomfortable truth.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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