The Jerusalem-based human rights watchdog organization NGO Monitor sharply criticized Amnesty International’s response to last week’s Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers, which resulted in the killing of eight Israelis and scores of wounded.
Prof. Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor president, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that “instead of issuing a strong condemnation of the August 18 Palestinian terror attacks, Amnesty International’s statement draws a false equivalence between cold-blooded murder and self defense that targeted those responsible.”
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He added that “from Amnesty’s statement, one has no idea that terrorists walked up to a car and brutally murdered the four passengers. Amnesty has immorally treated both the murders and the self-defense response as ‘indiscriminate and disproportionate.’ In obscuring the facts on the ground, Amnesty again makes a complete mockery of international law and human rights values.”
Citing media reports that the assailants were dressed in Egyptian
military uniforms and their illegal entry into Egypt and Israel, NGO
Monitor said the attacks represent a “violation of international
humanitarian law. If the terrorists indeed originated from Gaza, they
also violated the sovereignty of both Egypt and Israel, a detail that
was also ignored by Amnesty.”
NGO Monitor criticized Amnesty for not condemning “the more than 100
rockets launched from Gaza into Israel over the weekend, killing one and
injuring dozens” or acknowledging that “10 of the 13 Palestinians
killed were terrorists, and that the other three were with the
terrorists at the time of their death.”
When asked about NGO Monitor’s criticisms, Susanna Flood, director of
media at the London-based headquarters of AI, wrote the Post on Monday,
saying, “We deplore and have repeatedly condemned the firing of
indiscriminate rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. We also deplore
and condemn killings of Palestinian civilians when these result from
indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces in breach of the laws of war.
“This is not a case of ‘false equivalence’ as Steinberg likes to claim
but simply the implications of international law, which enjoins all
parties to conflict to respect the rights of civilians.”
Referencing Amnesty’s August 19 news release, Flood said “we are
concerned that the recent upsurge in violence in Israel and Gaza is once
again putting civilians – on both sides of the line – at great risk, as
the figures for deaths and injuries to civilians already attest.”
AI titled its news release “Civilians At Risk Amid New Attacks in Gaza
and Israel” and the statement did not contain any references to Israel’s
right to defend its border against terror attacks.
Steinberg told the Post that “without any evidence, Amnesty officials
also imply that Israel is in violation of the prohibition of ‘harming
civilians.’ In fact, the evidence demonstrates that Israel’s response
was extremely precise – targeting the terrorists responsible for the
murderous attacks. In the rush to condemn Israel, Amnesty distorts the
events beyond recognition.”
AI has long draw criticism from pro- Israel advocates because of the
NGO’s reported bias against Israel and the organization’s association
with radical Islamic terrorists. Last year, the head of AI’s Finland
branch, Frank Johansson, defended his description of Israel as a “scum
state” in an interview with the Post.
Johansson later apologized to Israel’s Ambassador to Finland but was
ostensibly not disciplined by AI for his anti-Israel rhetoric.
AI sponsored speaking engagements for Moazzem Begg, whom the United States called “a confirmed member of al-Qaida.”
According to the British daily Telegraph news blogger, Michael Weiss,
“now Amnesty has taken the next step in its easy-breezy attitude towards
The celebrated NGO has cozied up to a Hamas-friendly magazine based in London known as Middle East Monitor Online.”
Writing in April, Weiss noted that “On May 23, Amnesty’s Human Rights
Action Center will co-host what promises to be a ripping debate on
‘Complicity in Oppression: Does the Media Aid Israel?’ The other
co-hosts are MEMO and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.”
NGO Monitor said in its Sunday statement, “We call on all members of
Amnesty with a moral conscience, including the Israeli branch, to resign
immediately in protest.”
AI declined to comment on the resignation calls from NGO Monitor.