vrijdag 7 maart 2008

Amnesty International rapport over Gazastrook omstreden

Kritiek op het eenzijdige rapport van Amnesty International en andere mensenrechtenorganisaties over de situatie in Gaza


Today former chairman of Amnesty International's Israel chapter Dr. Michael Ehrlich and NGO Monitor Executive Director, Prof Gerald Steinberg, held a press conference at MediaCentral in Jerusalem and presented a number of perspectives on today's report released by Amnesty International and other UK-based NGOs on the humanitarian situation in Gaza.  Below is a summary of their remarks, for reference, as requested by many who could not attend the briefing.
1) The opening sentence of the report refers to the situation today being "worse now than it has ever been since… 1967".  This reference is disingenuous and misleading.  The report uses no data to support such a statement.  The facts – corroborated by numerous UN and other international bodies including UNESCO, WHO, WTO, IMF and others – point to a significant increase in virtually every indicator of quality of life for Gaza residents, whether infant mortality rates, life expectancy, general health indices, literacy rates, women's participation in the workforce, GDP, electricity and running water availability, and the number of colleges, hospitals, schools, day-care centers and the like, between 1967 and the assumption of governing responsibilities by the Palestinian Authority in the "Oslo Process" in the mid-1990's (and even today, after over a decade of authoritarian rule, corruption and mismanagement by the Palestinian Authority).
2) None of these organizations (and in fact, no organization) has the capacity to verify such claims which originate with Palestinian NGOs and officials. They cannot verify whether 80% or 63% "of Gaza residents are dependent on food aid."  Amnesty's only 'researcher' in the region, Donatella Rovera, is based in Europe and her knowledge of the details is very limited.  (Claims made by these organizations regarding international law are also out of their areas of competence.)

3) Much of the data on which this report is based is false, and repeats the fabricated reports written by John Dugard, a well known anti-Israel activist employed by the UN.  As Dr. Elihu Richter of Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital notes, Dugard "misrepresents and wildly distorts the situation concerning medical referrals to Israel".  In contrast to the claims, "permissions  and referrals to Israeli specialty medical services,  increased by 45% from 4,934 in 2006 to 7,176 in 2007, with approval rates of some 82% of all requests during 2007."

4) Neither in this report nor in many others like it, do the organizations publishing the report acknowledge the fact that Gaza has been 'governed' for the past 8 months, since the violent takeover by Hamas in June 2007, by a quasi-government established by coup with no recognition or legitimacy either in Palestinian society or in the Arab or Muslim world, let alone in the international community.  The Hamas leadership is the party responsible for the violence and therefore responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population (and is defined by the US and the EU as a terrorist organization).
5) Similarly, the fact of Israel's total withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the continuous barrage of rocket and mortar attacks are often either ignored or mentioned only in passing –  some 4000 since the 'disengagement' in August 2005 and some 500 since January 2008, including military-grade Grad Katyusha missiles in Ashkelon, Israel's southern port city of 120,000, bringing the total population today in missile attack range to some 250,000.
6) These organizations use humanitarian claims to promote a clear political agenda which demonizes Israel.  Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children U.K. and Trocaire all have a history of political and ideological anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian bias.  These are documented in detail on www.ngo-monitor.org. 

7) Few acknowledge Egypt's role in certain aspects of the situation in Gaza, most specifically their responsibility for monitoring and interdicting the passage of munitions and terrorists across Egyptian territory and across the Egyptian border with Gaza. 
8) Similarly, the fact that Israel provides the majority of Gaza's electricity needs is often ignored or minimized, as are the numerous humanitarian convoys of food and medical supplies even in the midst of a war initiated by Hamas with its rocket attacks.
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Dr. Michael Ehrlich – mikbra@012.net.il
Prof. Gerald Steinberg – steinberg@ngo-monitor.org.

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