Release Date: 9 September 2009
NGO Monitor: B'tselem and PCHR Reports on Gaza War Casualties are not
(Jerusalem) - NGO Monitor today noted the contradictory publications by B'tselem
and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), both claiming to provide
accurate Palestinian casualty counts during the Gaza War earlier this year.
Although publicized as "comprehensive" and "complete" statistics, neither
report is credible, and both reflect the underlying political motivations
and bias of the organizations, as documented by NGO Monitor. (B'tselem's
funders include the governments of UK, Norway, Switzerland and Ireland and
the New Israel Fund; PCHR's funders include EU and the governments of
Norway, Ireland and Denmark)
NGO Monitor highlighted the following:
· Although both organizations claim to use meticulous research
methods, their conclusions differ enormously. PCHR claims 1,167
non-combatants were killed, B'tselem puts the figure at 773.
· The timing of these publications indicates an attempt to impact the
findings of Judge Richard Goldstone's UN investigation prior to the report's
· B'tselem adopted controversial International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) guidelines which use a highly disputed and unworkable
definition of the standard for those "taking a direct part in hostilities".
This means that people who are closely involved in Hamas' offensive
infrastructure are exempted. Many ICRC legal consultants withdrew support
for these guidelines on this basis.
· Although B'tselem has improved its credibility compared to previous
reports, by listing casualties' affiliations to terrorist factions, these
same individuals such as Hamas senior military leader Saeed Sayam are still
not classified as combatants.
· PCHR's definition of a "non-combatant" is even more problematic,
and only includes those holding a weapon at the precise moment of death.
Consequently, PCHR classifies known terrorists as civilians, such as Hamas
activist Nizar Rayan.
· PCHR's consistently hostile agenda towards Israel, including
promotion of anti-Israel boycotts, places its' research in clear
contravention of the International Bar Association's London-Lund Guidelines
on fact finding which demand unbiased investigators.
NGO Monitor's President Prof Gerald Steinberg said, "These two conflicting
reports again demonstrate that neither NGO produces accurate information
regarding Palestinian casualties. Instead, their publications are the
continuation of ideologically motivated campaigns that use human rights as a
weapon against Israel. The artificially narrow definition of combatants
simply furthers this political agenda.
These publications are further examples of the central role played by
political NGOs in the Goldstone "fact finding" inquiry. PCHR and B'tselem
have been involved at every step of the process, and if the Goldstone report
simply repeats their claims, it will further demonstrate the
counterproductive impact of biased NGO in the UN human rights framework."
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