Amnesty campaigns manager equates Israel with Islamic State

Amnesty campaigns manager equates Israel with Islamic State

Amnesty International has been accused of bringing its controversial report into last summer’s Gaza conflict into disrepute after a senior manager linked it with the actions of Islamic State on Twitter. 

Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International UK Campaigns Manager
Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International UK Campaigns Manager

Kristyan Benedict, the group’s UK campaigns manager, tweeted a link to a story about the Amnesty report on IDF operations during the conflict, next to the hashtag #JSIL? (Jewish State in the Levant) –a commonly-understood play on one of the longer names of the Islamic terror group, which calls itself ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The Israeli embassy’s Yiftah Curiel said: “Amnesty’s campaign manager has unfortunately compromised the integrity of his organisation. It’s ironic that for all of Amnesty’s work on Syria and Iraq, its own campaigns manager can’t see Hamas terrorism for what it is, and instead chooses to use an ugly, hateful term with anti-Jewish connotations.”

Amnesty was quick to distance itself from Benedict, saying: ““This tweet was made in a personal capacity by a member of staff. Amnesty International has not used the hashtag #JSIL.”

 The embassy earlier criticised the report as being a “propaganda tool for Hamas” that “does not mention the word terror” and “ignores the nature of the enemy in Gaza,” adding it “fails to contribute” to the discussion on the conflict.

Screen shot 2014-11-05 at 13.47.51The report examines “targeted Israeli attacks on inhabited civilian homes” by focusing on eight occasions in which 104 Palestinian civilians were killed. 

Amnesty says Israel “failed to take necessary precautions to avoid excessive harm to civilians, as required by humanitarian law” and that even when a member of an armed group may be in the home, “the loss of civilian lives, injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects appears disproportionate”.

The 50-day battle, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, left over 2,200 people dead and more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless.

Several Israel government and military investigations are underway into IDF operations during the Gaza conflict, but human rights groups such as B’Tselem say none are independent.

The United Nations has set up its own investigation but Israel refuses to co-operate, calling the UN Human Rights Council “the terrorists’ rights council”. 

On the missile strikes against homes, Amnesty notes “the lack of any explanation of what was being targeted” and says there is “significant doubt about whether a military objective was present”.

Concluding, it suggests the international community “ensure possible crimes, including war crimes, are subject to proper investigation”.

It adds that “those suspected of criminal responsibility [should be] brought to justice in fair trials, including through states exercising universal jurisdiction or through the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court”.

In its response, Curiel said the report showed “extreme bias” that “ignores documented war crimes perpetrated by Hamas”.

He added: “Amnesty should understand that producing a narrow, decontextualised report restricts its capability to advance positive change.”

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