On July 17th NGO Monitor informed us of the fact that:
“Following Israel’s response to hundreds of attacks launched from Gaza, the network of international, Palestinian, and Israeli-Arab NGOs have initiated a campaign to replicate the discredited “Goldstone process” of political warfare against Israel, including:
- calling for UN and international “fact-finding missions” to investigate alleged Israeli “war crimes and crimes against humanity”;
- lobbying for International Criminal Court (ICC) “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials;
- promoting arms embargos against Israel
The NGOs leading this campaign include Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, FIDH, a coalition of Palestinian NGOs (including Al-Haq, Al Mezan, Badil, Defence for Children International- Palestine Section, Palestinian Center for Human Rights), and of Israeli-Arab NGOs (such as the NIF-funded Adalah and Mossawa).” [emphasis added]
The rest of NGO Monitor’s important report can be found here.
Readers no doubt recognize the names of the two highlighted NGOs above – Al Mezan and PCHR. They are two of the “primary sources” upon which UN OCHA recently told BBC Watch it relies for casualty figures in the Gaza Strip. Describing them as “United Nations” figures, the BBC in turn quotes and promotes those UN OCHA statistics without any independent verification of its own and fails to inform audiences that they are sourced from political NGOs.
On at least four occasions since July 9th the BBC has provided a platform for the promotion and amplification of political messaging under the guise of ‘human rights’ from the PCHR’s Raji Sourani – see here, here, here and here.
The PCHR and Al Mezan (together with another Palestinian NGO) had already released a joint statement on July 9th which makes their engagement in ‘lawfare‘ and their campaign to delegitimize Israel on the international stage for political and military purposes perfectly clear. They have also published individual statements – see here and here. Nevertheless, despite their clearly partisan stance, UN OCHA still uses them as “primary sources” and the BBC repeatedly lends its publicly funded resources, its outreach and its reputation to the PCHR’s political campaign.
The third “primary source” for those UN OCHA Gaza casualty figures unquestioningly quoted and promoted by the BBC is B’Tselem which has also released statements on the subject of the conflict. Unsurprisingly, that organisation’s new director was featured in a video report published on the BBC News website on July 16th under the title “Israeli air strike warnings: What the footage tells us” and apparently also broadcast on BBC television news programmes.
Whilst it depicts some of the methods used by Israel to warn civilians of upcoming military actions such as leafleting, telephone calls and ‘roof-knocking’, as well as showing a strike being aborted due to the presence of a civilian, the video report also states:
“But as the Palestinian death toll rises, some say the warnings don’t always come.”
Notably, the report avoids all mention of the fact that it is a certainty that there are civilians who really are being indiscriminately targeted in this conflict – the citizens of Israel.
The report goes on:
“While human rights groups say – warning or no warning – air strikes in civilian areas are never justified.”
Footage then cuts to Hagai Elad of B’Tselem saying:
“The fact that an individual is associated with a Palestinian military group does not make the apartment of that person into a military target nor does it make the entire building with all the other apartments there into a military target.”
Once again this report quotes statements from UN OCHA which there is no evidence to suggest have been independently verified by the BBC.
“But the United Nations says the majority of those killed in Gaza have been civilians”
Notably, whilst this report promotes the claims of “human rights groups” regarding Israel’s actions, it does not make any effort to present a professional legal view on the topic or to inform audiences of the political agenda of those “human rights groups”.
The fact that the BBC is providing publicity, promotion and amplification for political NGOs engaged in anti-Israel campaigning through ‘lawfare’ to influence public opinion is one which is completely incompatible with its commitment – and obligation – to impartial reporting.