Left-wing Israeli NGO B’Tselem makes claims in its latest report on last summer’s Gaza war that lack credibility.
By: NGO Monitor
In its report on IDF strikes during the 2014 Gaza conflict, B’Tselem presents a simplistic and distorted political narrative of Israeli guilt and Palestinian victimhood, according to Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor. B’Tselem’s publication follows those of Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and other investigation NGOs, contributing to the campaign surrounding the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by William Schabas, as well as Palestinian Authority efforts focused on the International Criminal Court.
“Once again, and regardless of the circumstances and available evidence, B’Tselem has contorted the facts in order to pronounce Israel guilty,” said Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s Legal Advisor. “Contrary to such claims, Hamas is morally and legally responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza: Hamas systematically conducts military operations from within civilian areas and stores its rockets in schools, mosques, and private homes.”
B’Tselem’s claims regarding international law are marked by major omissions and distortions. It notably fails to state that under the laws of war, the presence of civilians does not render military objectives immune from attack. B’Tselem also does not explain why targeting Hamas fighters or Hamas command centers did not “effectively assist military efforts” or “provide a military advantage” to Israel.
NGO Monitor notes that, as in the past, this publication fails to present definitive evidence that would justify the allegations. Indeed, it is clear that B’Tselem, like other politicized NGOs, lacks the necessary information, including military intelligence and command decisions. B’Tselem also lacked direct access to Gaza, instead presenting unverifiable “testimonies” from purported victims and eyewitnesses in Hamas-controlled territory, mixed with other data that originated with the Hamas Ministry of Health in Gaza.
As a result, B’Tselem has a history of presenting faulty information on civilian casualties in alleged attacks against “families bombed at home.” Independent studies have identified at least 14 combatants present in such incidents, whom B’Tselem misleadingly portrayed as innocent civilians (see below for details). B’Tselem also did not mention that a meeting of terror operatives was occurring at the targeted home, but instead published an emotive account of a family member of an Islamic Jihad commander.
“B’Tselem’s absurd argument that Israel cannot target Hamas fighters at home will only encourage terrorists to store more weapons, launch more rockets, and conduct more military operations from within homes and mosques, knowing they can do so with complete impunity,” continued Ms. Herzberg. “The international community should wholly reject this dangerous publication.”