NGO Monitor: UN agency regularly manipulates data to make Israel look bad

“OCHA rarely, if ever, cites relevant Israeli government information, including detailed statistics published by COGAT, the Israel Defense Forces, or the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

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April 8, 2016 06:47
2 minute read.
UNWRA

A Palestinian refugee knocks on the closed gate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters with his walking stick. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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NGO Monitor on Thursday released a report highly critical of a UN agency deemed so biased in Jerusalem that the Foreign Ministry, according to diplomatic sources, stopped cooperating with it in any meaningful way several years ago.

The organization is the Jerusalem-based UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA oPt).

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According to the NGO Monitor report, the group “regularly presents data in a manipulative way that erases the context of terrorism and distorts law and morality.”

OCHA fails to distinguish between Palestinian civilians and attackers, thereby amplifying Palestinian casualty claims, and drawing a false symmetry between legal Israeli self-defense and illegal attacks by terrorists, the report stated.

As an example the report highlighted OCHA’s weekly “protection of civilians report” for the period of February 2-8.

“OCHA presents pie charts purporting to show the number of ‘Palestinian fatalities by Israeli forces in the oPt.’ Yet, this data as presented does not provide any information as to how the fatalities took place, including how many of the fatalities occurred while Palestinians were attempting to murder Israeli civilians or engaged in violent confrontations with Israeli law enforcement,” the report said. “As a result, it is impossible to make any meaningful assessments from OCHA’s figures.”

According to the report, OCHA is “one of the primary coordinators of NGO (nongovernmental organization) funding and activity in the Arab-Israeli conflict. OCHA oversees and facilitates government funding to some of the most biased and politicized regional NGOs, including a number that are very active in promoting BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and ‘lawfare’ campaigns against Israel. Some even engage in blatantly anti-Semitic activities.”

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OCHA then uses the data in its reports collected from these organizations, which NGO Monitor said lack credible methodologies for analysis of such things as casualty claims, “parroting the false and distorted claims of these NGOs, thereby seeking to give credence and credibility to highly misleading accusations.”

As a UN agency, the NGO Monitor reported, OCHAs reports are then repeated by diplomats and journalists and feature prominently in other UN documents.

Furthermore, the report stated, “OCHA rarely, if ever, cites relevant Israeli government information, including detailed statistics published by the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israel Defense Forces, or the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”

The report added that “OCHA’s website also highlights a number of biased videos reflecting the Palestinian narrative, including ‘How long does it take to demolish a house,’ ‘Gaza: Only Rubble Where Homes Once Stood’ and ‘Walled Horizons.’ These videos show scenes of destruction and despair, while completely omitting Palestinian terror, including rocket attacks against Israeli population centers and tunnels running beneath the border into Israel. The videos are devoid of all context and are aimed solely at demonizing Israel.”

Israel has formally protested OCHA’s activities in the past.

David Carden, head of OCHA oPt, issued the following statement in response to the report: “OCHA’s office in the oPt carries out its operations in line with our global mandate to coordinate principled humanitarian assistance and protection to people in need, in line with General Assembly Resolution 46/182. We have just received the report and we are examining its contents. From a preliminary review it appears that OCHA’s work in the oPt is misrepresented.”

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