AMNESTY International has “sunk to the level of a mere propaganda outlet for Hamas”, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) said this week.
Its Australian branch publicised a petition during the recent Gaza conflict condemning Israel – without mentioning Hamas – and claiming that “the systemic discrimination, dispossession and displacement of Palestinians is at the root of what we see today”.
“Israel is forcefully evicting Palestinian families from their homes so Israeli settlers can live there instead,” said a Facebook post.
“Now they’re attacking Gaza, killing dozens of men, women and children. Israel thinks it can get away with these crimes.”
ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim said Amnesty International “has made a hollow mockery of its claim to be a human rights organisation, and trashed whatever was left of its reputation”.
“Once respected for championing prisoners of conscience, regardless of politics or ideology, Amnesty International has now sunk to the level of a mere propaganda outlet for Hamas, an organisation openly dedicated to committing another genocide against the Jewish people,” he said.
“Amnesty International has further disgraced itself by whitewashing the crimes of Hamas against Jews and Arabs alike.”
The AJN asked Amnesty why the petition ignored Hamas, whether the organisation upholds the rights of Israelis to be free from rocket fire and how an NGO that describes itself as “independent of any political ideology” justifies repeating Hamas propaganda.
Amnesty International campaigner Nikita White responded that it had found evidence of attacks “by both the Israeli Defence Forces and Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, and notes that indiscriminate rocket-fire by Palestinian armed groups towards civilian areas has also killed and injured civilians and damaged homes and other residential properties”.
“The particular focus of this petition on the Israeli authorities followed days of a mounting death toll in Gaza, with at least 198 Palestinians killed including 58 children and more than 1220 people injured,” she said. “Ten people in Israel, including two children, have been killed and at least 27 injured by Palestinian attacks. Amnesty condemns this violence.”
She said Amnesty “has acknowledged repeatedly and consistently” that rockets fired from Gaza into Israel violate international humanitarian law. “Based on this research, we are asking the International Criminal Court to investigate these attacks as war crimes,” she said.
“Amnesty maintains the use of excessive force against Palestinians who are peacefully protesting against their forced displacement is a breach of human rights law.”