The Guardian published an op-ed by Sahar Francis, director of Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, an NGO so extreme that it’s reportedly an affiliate of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – designated as a terrorist group by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel.
PFLP has been involved in plane hijackings, suicide bombings, shootings, and assassinations, among other terrorist attacks which have targeted and murdered civilians.
The op-ed (“Israel’s military courts for Palestinians are a stain on international justice”, March 6) is based on a report by War on Want (WoW), which relied heavily on ‘research’ by Addameer. Tellingly, WoW itself also reportedly has links to the PFLP, a fact which prompted PayPal, in 2018, to cease providing services to the ‘charity’.
Francis’s Guardian op-ed is said to be a “deep dive into the diverse ways in which Palestinians’ rights are being violated – from arrest, through interrogation, conviction and jail time”. She complains, for instance, that, “regardless of the existence of the PA penal code and judiciary…all Palestinians, wherever they reside in the West Bank, remain subject to the jurisdiction of Israel’s military courts if they fall foul of certain laws”.
These “certain laws” include terrorism, enticement to violence and membership in a proscribed organisation.
Regarding the latter crime, Francis complains that, “since 1967…Israel has decreed more than 411 Palestinian organisations illegal, including all the major Palestinian political parties”.
The implication is that the list is mostly made up of benign, non-violent, anti-occupation political parties. However, If you follow the footnote at the end of that sentence, it takes you a 2019 Human Rights Watch report making the same claim, which links to a spreadsheet published by Israel’s Defence Ministry that lists all the groups Jerusalem designates as terror groups.
As you can clearly see by opening the document, the overwhelming majority of proscribed organisations are terrorist groups who seek the annihilation of Israel through armed ‘resistance’, or groups affiliated with such terror groups.
Francis then writes that “Other charges heard by the military courts include…traffic violations [which] accounts for some 40% of all Palestinians brought before the military courts each year”. However, we’re extremely skeptical of this claim for two reasons. First, traffic violations generally aren’t criminal matters. But, more importantly, there doesn’t seem to be source for their allegation. The footnote at the end of that sentence takes you to a Btselem report which includes the same claim. However, there’s no footnote listing a source for their data, so it’s impossible to determine its veracity.
Francis also continually attacks Israel’s use of military courts to try Palestinians for certain offenses.
However, if Israel were to use civilian courts to try Palestinians who commit violent crimes, Israel would have to annex the West Bank – a move that would be decried by such NGOs as “illegal”. NGO Monitor has made this point previously with regard to Addameer’s criticism of Israel’s military court system for Palestinians:
Addameer falsely implies that the establishment and operation of military courts are illegitimate and improper. Under international law and the “occupation” paradigm applied by Addameer, Israel is required to “restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety” in the West Bank (Article 43 of the Hague Rules of 1907). In order to adhere to this requirement, international law provides that Israel can only establish military courts (Article 66 of GCIV). Were Israel to apply its domestic law to the Palestinians residing in the West Bank, Addameer would condemn Israel for annexation of the area.
Moreover, important context omitted by Francis in her Guardian op-ed is the fact that “regular criminal offenses committed by Palestinians in Areas A and B, in which over 95% of the Palestinians who live in the area reside” are tried in Palestinian courts.
Beyond the claims in the Guardian op-ed, the 50 page document includes numerous falsehoods, distortions and libels.
- It routinely accuses Israel of apartheid, claiming that “Palestinians are treated differently anddiscriminated against…in comparison with Israeli Jewish citizens”, which obfuscates the fact that non-Jews in Israel (such as Arabs, Druze, and Christians) are afforded the same legal rights as “Israeli Jewish citizens”.
- It defines “apartheid” so unseriously that it even characterises Israel’s ‘refusal’ to allow the unlimited Palestinian “right of return” as a form of apartheid.
- It falsely claims that there have been no new Arab towns built by Israel since 1950.
- It repeats the thoroughly discredited claim by the radical NGO Adalah that there are “60 racist laws in Israel”.
- It falsely claims that all Palestinians (including even those under Hamas rule in Gaza) are under “direct” Israeli administrative “control”.
- In criticising Israel’s response to Palestinian terrorism, it fails to use the word “terror” or “violence” when describing Palestinian attacks on civilians, opting instead for euphemisms such as “resistance”. (The word “terrorism” is only used once, in passing, to explain Israel’s view.)
- Though the word Gaza is referred to 30 times, usually in the context of decrying the conditions of Palestinians living there who are ‘occupied by Israel’, the word “Hamas” doesn’t appear once in the entire document.
- It defends the Palestinian Authority’s ‘Pay to Slay‘ program, which rewards and incentivises terrorism by providing monthly cash stipends to imprisoned terrorists and their families.
- It erroneously refers to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prison as “political prisoners”.
- It falsely claims that Israel has Jewish “settler-only” roads in the West Bank.
Francis’s egregiously misleading op-ed, and the propagandistic, error-ridden report it promotes – all under the absurd facade of “human rights” – is but the latest example of the Guardian’s relentless campaign to vilify and delegitimise the Jewish state we’ve been documenting for over 11 years.