The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights is located in the Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza. Condemning Israel’s “increasing amount of daily violations of [Palestinians’] civil and political rights,” Al-Mezan’s mission is to use “research, legal intervention, [and] advocacy” to “promote respect and protection for all human rights … in the Gaza Strip.” By Al-Mezan’s telling, Israeli oppression represents the chief obstacle to “a Palestinian free, sovereign society where all women, men and children enjoy the benefits of social justice [and] human rights.”
Al-Mezan administers six major projects:
* Monitoring and Documentation of Human Rights Violations: The organization seeks to draw attention to Israel’s alleged human-rights abuses.
* Awareness and Capacity Building: Through its Training and Mass Communication Unit, Al-Mezan offers courses wherein schoolteachers, human-rights activists, and health personnel are taught about the evils of Israeli oppression. Al-Mezan’s “Face the Public” initiative sponsors meetings where representatives of the Palestinian Authority, local governments, United Nations bodies, and NGOs can discuss specific economic and social concerns. Further, Al-Mezan’s “Pass the Word” program uses workshops and lectures to “raise consciousness” about alleged Israeli human-rights abuses against “university students in the Gaza Strip.”
* Legal Aid and Representation: Al-Mezan’s Legal Aid Unit represents Palestinians who are incarcerated in Israeli jails; who suffer the consequences of the “land confiscation[s]” and “home demolition[s]” which Israel carries out against known terrorists and their enablers; who are prevented from traveling freely in Israel (again, a situation attributable to Israeli concerns about terrorism); and who are victimized by Israeli “violations of economic and social rights.”
* Research and Analysis: Under this program, Al-Mezan produces “analytical reports”—rife with accusations of “Israeli war crimes”—on the state of “[economic, social, and cultural] rights in the Gaza Strip.”
* Reporting and Publications: This division of Al-Mezan is responsible for the organization’s “joint statements, monitoring reports, special incident reports, press releases, [and] legal publications.”
* Resource Library: Al-Mezan has developed “a human rights library” in Jabalia to serve as “an information center for Al-Mezan staff, researchers, students, and the public … in this marginalized [Gaza] area.”
Al-Mezan’s literature consistently reflects a deep-seated hostility towards Israel as a brutal oppressor. In 2003, for instance, Al-Mezan claimed that “the Israeli Occupation Forces have systematically violated Palestinians’ human rights and perpetrated war crimes on an unprecedented level.” In a May 2004 press release, the organization promoted false allegations of an Israeli massacre related to the fighting in Rafiah, invoking the term “war crimes” numerous times.
In June 2006, while Israel was engaged in a military conflict with Hamas, Al-Mezan condemned Israel’s killing of two Palestinians as “grave violations of International Law” and exhorted the international community to “intervene to provide protection to civilians … and punish those who commanded the military actions and committed war crimes against Palestinians.” Absent from Al-Mezan’s statement was any mention of the fact that both victims were members of the Popular Resistance Committees, terrorist groups responsible for numerous attacks including the firing of Qassam rockets into southern Israel.
In April 2008, Al-Mezan strongly denounced Israel’s “ongoing siege” of the Gaza Strip. Eight months later, when Israel initiated “Operation Cast Lead,” a military response to thousands of rocket attacks which Hamas and allied Gaza-based terror groups had carried out in recent years, Al-Mezan condemned the Jewish state for its “aggression,” “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and “violation of human rights standards.” As the conflict continued into January 2009, Al-Mezan published numerous false allegations of “Israeli massacres,” “slaughtering civilians,” “scandalous war crimes,” and “despicable disregard to civilian life.”
As of November 2011, Al-Mezan, which holds holds consultative status with the United Nations‘ Economic and Social Council, was a member of eleven NGO alliances, including the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the World Organization Against Torture, and the Habitat International Coalition‘s Housing and Land Rights Network.
Al-Mezan has received funding from a number of major sources, including George Soros‘s Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Caipirinha Foundation‘s Cultures of Resistance network, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the International Commission of Jurists (Sweden), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Carol Chomsky Memorial Fund (named after the late wife of Noam Chomsky), the Netherlands Representative Office, the International Human Rights Funders Group, and the French Consulate.