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HRW dismisses allegations of bias against Israel

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] responded [press release] Tuesday to a New York Times editorial [text] written by former chairman Robert Bernstein that accused the group of bias against Israel. HRW responded that the group covers "open" societies such as Israel and the US as well as "closed" ones. The group defended its coverage of Israel, saying:

Human Rights Watch does not devote more time and energy to Israel than to other countries in the region, or in the world. We've produced more than 1,700 reports, letters, news releases, and other commentaries on the Middle East and North Africa since January 2000, and the vast majority of these were about countries other than Israel. Furthermore, our Middle East division is only one of 16 research programs at Human Rights Watch. The work on Israel is a tiny fraction of Human Rights Watch's work as a whole.

The human rights group has been criticized for reporting on Israeli human rights abuses while giving comparatively light coverage to Saudi Arabia. The group has also been criticized for demanding that Israel investigate abuses and only recently demanding that Hamas due the same [Ynet.com report]. Members of the International Advisory Board of NGO Monitor [advocacy website] have also responded [NYT op-ed] to Bernstein's criticisms in the New York Times.

In August, HRW accused Israeli soldiers [JURIST report] of killing 11 white flag-waving Palestinian civilians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], which left more than 1,000 civilians and combatants dead in December 2008 and January 2009. In April, HRW called on Palestinian [JURIST report] Hamas [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] authorities to end the systematic detention, torture, and execution of supporters of Israel and the rival Fatah party [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. In March, HRW accused Israel [JURIST report] of unlawfully and extensively using white phosphorous [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] munitions during Operation Cast Lead.

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