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Thursday, May 27, 2004

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other NGOs
advance a highly politicized anti-Israel agenda

Exploiting the Rhetoric of Human Rights and International Law
NGO Monitor: In their highly politicized assessments, HRW and Amnesty use the rhetoric of international law selectively, failing to note that private property used by armed combatants loses its protected status within a war zone. Although Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the destruction of private homes by military forces, it also includes the very significant caveat: "except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations." Israel's understanding of its rights and responsibilities under international humanitarian law have been scrutinized by the Israeli Supreme Court, which refused a petition filed by a number of NGOs asking to halt the Rafiah operation.

Nevertheless, Amnesty International’s 18 May report, "Israel and the Occupied Territories. Under the rubble: House demolition and destruction of land and property", claims: "The grounds invoked by Israel to justify the destruction are overly broad and based on discriminatory policies and practices." Amnesty went on to accuse Israel of "war crimes".

Similarly, in a press statement of May 20, Human Rights Watch declared Israel’s actions as "part of the IDF’s policy of collective punishment, which international humanitarian law strictly forbids." Unless the interpretations of international law by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch undergo judicial review in a manner parallel to the Israeli interpretation, such claims are unsupported.

Furthermore, in both cases, the demonization of Israeli policy, without including the context of the Israeli actions, highlights the continued political exploitation of the rhetoric of human rights and the terminology of international law. It is also consistent with the active role of these groups at the 2001 Durban conference, and in other cases since then.

In the case of Gaza, as before, the NGOs fail to offer realistic alternatives to respond to the intelligence information regarding a shipment of Katyusha rockets and shoulder-launched missiles being prepared on the Egyptian side for smuggling into the tunnels. Should Israel tolerate the shipment of weapons to terrorist groups — like Hamas and Islamic Jihad — that are used to kill innocent Israeli civilians as well as Israeli soldiers? If so, HRW and Amnesty would be denying Israelis the most basic of human rights – the right to life.

See also this report on the use of UNRWA vehicles to smuggle terrorists, this photograph, and this further bit in Haaretz about Palestinian respect for the sanctity of life status of ambulances.