B'Tselem Gaza War Report a 'Distorted Narrative'

NGO Monitor unveils distortion, lack of hard data behind leftist group's war report that 'contorts facts to pronounce Israel guilty.'

Ari Yashar ,

Gaza man kisses Hamas sniper terrorist (file)
Gaza man kisses Hamas sniper terrorist (file)
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

The radical leftist group B'Tselem released a report on IDF strikes during the war against Hamas in Gaza last summer - according to the Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor, the findings are "a distorted political narrative of Israeli guilt and Palestinian victimhood."

"Once again, and regardless of the circumstances and available evidence, B'Tselem has contorted the facts in order to pronounce Israel guilty," charged Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor's Legal Adviser. "Contrary to such claims, Hamas is morally and legally responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza."

Explaining her point, which the IDF has thoroughly documented, Herzberg continued "Hamas systematically conducts military operations from within civilian areas and stores its rockets in schools, mosques, and private homes."

In deconstructing the report, NGO Monitor pointed out B'Tselem "notably fails to state that under the laws of war, the presence of civilians does not render military objectives immune from attack."

B'Tselem also claimed in its report that targeting Hamas terrorists and command centers did not "effectively assist military efforts" or "provide a military advantage" to the IDF, without providing any reasoning or explanation to justify the antithetical claim.

"It is clear that B'Tselem, like other politicized NGOs, lacks the necessary information, including military intelligence and command decisions" to make such claims, argues NGO Monitor, noting that the leftist group also did not have direct access to Gaza, instead presenting unverifiable "testimonies" from residents of Gaza and Hamas Ministry of Health data.

Given its lack of independently verified data, B'Tselem presents false information according to NGO Monitor, which points out that at least 14 supposed civilian casualties of "families bombed at home" alleged by the leftist group were identified as terrorists by independent studies.

In addition to false identification, it was noted that B'Tselem did not mention that a meeting of terror operatives was taking place in a home targeted by the IDF, instead publishing an emotionally-laden account of the strike from the family member of an Islamic Jihad terrorist commander.

"B'Tselem's absurd argument that Israel cannot target Hamas fighters at home will only encourage terrorists to store more weapons, launch more rockets, and conduct more military operations from within homes and mosques, knowing they can do so with complete impunity," concluded Herzberg. "The international community should wholly reject this dangerous publication."

NGO Monitor noted that B'Tselem's report follows in the footsteps of similar reports by NGOs such as Amnesty International and Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, and is part of a push to delegitimize Israel seen in the UN Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) "war crimes" probe and the Palestinian Authority's (PA) "war crimes" suit against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

B'Tselem has received flak in the past for, among other things, having a staff member who was revealed to have denied the Holocaust, and a cameraman who actively participated in anti-Israel riots in June 2013, throwing rocks at IDF soldiers.