HRW: Too Little Too Late

Non-governmental organizations claiming to represent universal human rights have been at the forefront of attacks against Israel, accusing the IDF of “war crimes” and other illegal behavior during the Gaza conflict. As a result of the “halo effect”, such NGOs, because of their humanitarian focus, are insulated from scrutiny and are regarded as above reproach by the media.

Chief amongst these NGOs is Human Rights Watch, which has consistently demonstrated an anti-Israel agenda, releasing numerous reports focused on Israel’s alleged misdemeanors. Now, however, HRW has released a 31-page report and an accompanying video (see below) accusing Hamas of violating the laws of war by launching rocket attacks against the Israeli civilian population since November 2008.

While any acknowledgment of Hamas crimes from HRW or any other powerful NGO is welcome, we have to ask why has it taken so long, after several years and thousands of Qassam rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip. Could it be because HRW was caught with its hands in the Saudi cookie jar?

As we recently reported, HRW’s Sarah Leah Whitson was exposed trying to fundraise from wealthy Saudis by highlighting battles with “pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations”. HRW has been suitably embarrassed and its latest report on Hamas rocket attacks needs to be seen in this context.

In addition, NGO Monitor asks a number of questions, including over the timing of the report, HRW’s perpetuation of the “balance” between terrorist groups and their targets, and HRW’s failure to condemn Hamas for its extensive use of human shields.

Sorry HRW, but your report and video are simply too little too late.

Earlier in the year, another NGO, Physicians for Human Rights issued a damning report on the IDF’s behavior in Gaza. Now, the Jerusalem Post reveals the contents of a Defense Ministry counterreport that debunks PHR’s claims. For example:


One of the more serious accusations in the PHR report related to the deaths of 16 Palestinian medical personnel killed during the operation. “It seems that army soldiers no longer regard medical personnel as entitled to the special protection they are granted during the performance of their duties,” PHR wrote.

In response, the Defense Ministry report presented a Hamas statement, published on affiliated Web sites, that nine of the 16 medical personnel killed were Hamas operatives and fighters. In addition, pictures of some of them were even shown on Hamas Web sites holding weapons such as RPGs and Kalashnikov rifles.

Read the full article here.


The first Fatah General Assembly in 20 years taking place in Bethlehem might seem at first glance to be the equivalent of a Democratic or Republican convention. Having portrayed Palestinian president Abbas’s Fatah party as “moderates”, is it any surprise that the much of the mainstream media failed to elaborate on some of the more extreme pronouncements coming out of Bethlehem. For example:

  • Israel was declared responsible for assassinating Yasser Arafat. Having already decided upon the conclusion, a committee was set up to investigate the circumstances behind Arafat’s death.
  • A resolution was approved saying Jerusalem is an “integral part of the Palestinian homeland and political entity” and vowing to foil Israel’s alleged efforts to erase the city’s Arab and Islamic character. It defines Jerusalem as the “eternal capital of Palestine, the Arab world and the Islamic and Christian worlds” and vows to continue the struggle “until Jerusalem returns to the Palestinians void of settlers and settlements.” The resolution fails to distinguish between the western and eastern parts of the city.
  • Fatah will not renew peace negotiations with Israel until all Palestinian prisoners are released from Israeli jails, all settlement-building is frozen and the Gaza blockade is lifted.
  • The conference endorsed the Aksa Martyrs Brigades as Fatah’s official armed wing despite Fatah previously informing the US and other members of the Quartet that the group had been disarmed and disbanded.

n=justify>For much more on what the media has failed to report, see Tom Gross’s latest Mideast Dispatch.




The Toronto Star corrects a damaging quote attributed to then IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon from 2002 that, seven years later has finally been acknowledged by the paper and other publications as never having been said:

Like a stubborn bug in a massive communications machine, Yaalon’s never-uttered utterance has lived long and travelled far. The chronicle of its progress could serve as a case study in a seldom-examined aspect of popular culture in the electronic age the self-replicating propagation of erroneous information.

Thanks to an investigation by CAMERA, “publications including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe have all carried retractions or clarifications, either disavowing the comment outright or conceding it should not have been attributed to Yaalon.”



The UK’s Just Journalism examined the emotive media coverage of the eviction of two Palestinian families from their homes in eastern Jerusalem. The organization’s Rafael Broch writes:


we gathered from Sunday and Monday’s reporting, such as on the BBC, in the Guardian and in the Times that the two Palestinian families were evicted because Israeli courts had found that the land belonged to Jews, not to the Palestinians living there. Cut to religiously clad Jews busting in to the newly vacated houses and the whole thing is just obvious: Israel mercilessly turfs Arabs on to the street to plant more settlers in east Jerusalem.

It turns out that this is simply not the case. In fact, there is nothing simple about this case at all. There is a long legal history pertaining to the dispute between 28 Arab families and Jewish organisations over the ownership of the land in question. However, one crucial point was omitted from all reporting from the British sources named above (bar a small amendment to the BBC article made yesterday following a communication from us): the two Arab families evicted on Sunday were evicted for failing to pay rent in violation of the terms of their tenancy agreements. The Arab families who have kept to the terms of their tenancy agreement have not been evicted.

It is true that the non-payment of rent is tied up with the dispute over who owns the land, but it is still intensely relevant to the story. It’s all very well for the Guardian’s Middle East editor, Ian Black, to describe the evictions as “the ugly face of ethnic cleansing” or for Cif contributor Matt Kennard to claim that they represent “a process of racial purification“. But without informing readers that the only people being evicted are the ones who refused to pay rent to the landlords they recognised decades ago, they paint a distorted picture.

Read the full article here.




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