NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg takes up the issue:
Once again, unproven accusations against Israel and stripped of context made by obscure NGOs (the BBC, like other news groups, apparently did not know that PHR-I is an independent organization, and not part of the international PHR framework) were placed at the top of the news ladder. This is the power of the "halo effect", which protects NGOs that claim lofty goals (particularly if they condemn Israel) from any independent verification by journalists, diplomats and often, and academic researchers.
There are numerous problems with this report that should have given the BBC and other journalists pause, beginning with the questions of credibility and context. Human rights claims are a central part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and have accompanied Palestinian terrorism and Israeli responses for many years....
... the "evidence" is entirely based on unverifiable claims, primarily from 11 interviewees from Gaza who allegedly asked Israel for permission to cross from the territory controlled by Hamas for medical care. Some of these Palestinians may have genuine medical needs, but others may be inventing stories that sell well in an environment that is inherently hostile to Israel.
PHR-I has issued press releases declaring a Palestinian to be dead after Israel refused to allow him to cross the border, but he turned out to be alive. And in NGO reports on Palestinian suffering, Gazans who claimed to have been denied permission to study at universities in the United States were exposed as imposters. Unless the evidence can be checked or independently verified, it should be treated with the same skepticism used by professional journalists regarding other self-serving stories.
In addition, neither the BBC nor most of the other media reports on this story stated that PHR-I is a radical political organization that uses medical and other human rights claims to promote this agenda. As detailed NGO Monitor analyses show, PHR-I, officials, who are funded by misguided European governments, frequently use the rhetoric of demonization, addressing conferences that refer to Israel as a "racist" and "apartheid" state.
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