1. In May 2010 Amjad al-Salfiti, a lawyer with British citizenship who serves as head of the British branch of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), visited Judea and Samaria. He met with Dr. Mahmoud al-Ramahi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a senior Hamas activist in Judea and Samaria. Speaking for Hamas, Al-Ramahi requested legal assistance against the Palestinian Authority for what he termed "persecution" of Hamas activists.
2. Hamas’ use of the British lawyer and his human rights organization is one example of how it exploits anti-Israel organizations and activists operating in Britain, which is a hub of Hamas’ political, propaganda and legal activity in Europe.1 Most of its routine activities are directed against Israel, including initiatives for boycotting Israel, smearing it in the media and trying its senior officials in court. However, on occasion it turns its activities against the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, with which Hamas currently has difficult, charged relations. Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniya recently called on the residents of Judea and Samaria to take to the streets and rebel against the PA, while Egypt, following the rocket fire targeting the southern Israeli city of Eilat and the Jordan city of Aqaba, called Hamas an "Iranian agent" and a danger to Egypt’s national security and interests.
The visit of Dr. Ahmed al-Ramahi
3. Dr. Mahmoud Ahmed Abd al-Rahman al-Ramahi comes from Ramallah. He is a medical doctor and a senior Hamas activist in Judea and Samaria. He is the secretary of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and active in finance and charitable societies (which are fronts for Hamas activity). Between 2006 and 2009 he was imprisoned in Israel. He is often interviewed about human rights, especially the rights of Palestinian terrorist prisoners in Israel. In May 2010 he chatted with surfers on PALDF, Hamas’ main forum. A surfer named Abu Hussein asked what the role was of Hamas parliament representatives in contacting human rights organization outside Palestine, through them "to condemn the Ramallah authority’s war crimes against our youth and brothers."
4. Al-Ramahi answered that "We are in constant contact with human rights organizations, especially the Arab Organization for Human Rights in London." He said that so far the organization had publicized two files of investigations about the PA’s "persecution" of Hamas activists ("torture and dismissal from work"), greatly angering the PA’s security services. He added that one week previously (i.e., in the middle of May 2010) "we met with the organization’s chairman, Amjad al-Salfiti, who visited the West Bank. We supplied him with all the documents we received from our legal counsel." He said that they were likely to receive support in law suits which would be lodged in the near future [by implication, against the Palestinian Authority] by the British branch of the AOHR (Answers to surfers on PALDF, Hamas’ main forum, issued by "Abu Marah" of the forum’s board of directors, May 22, 2010).
The British branch of the Arab Organization for Human Rights
5. The Arab Organization for Human Rights is a large NGO based in Cairo. It was founded by an Egyptian intellectual named Sa’ad al-Din Ibrahim and has many branches in the Arab world, including an office in Gaza. According to its website it has no political objectives and only works to further human rights (www.aohr.net, www.gilgamish.org).
6. In effect, the organization’s orientation is blatantly anti-Western and its main goal is attacking the United States, Israel and Egypt. It often accuses Israel and the United States of "war crimes" (because of its activities in Iraq), and defends the human rights of militant individuals and organizations. At the same time, it does not criticize Hamas for its brutality against opponents in the Gaza Strip.
The activities of Amjad al-Salfiti
7. The British branch of the AOHR is headed by Amjad al-Salfiti, an expert in international law, who holds British citizenship. He studied law at the University of Central Lancashire, and specializes in human rights. He is responsible for several legal precedents in Britain.
Amjad al-Salfiti accuses Israel of “war crimes” in Operation Cast Lead
(From the Iran’s English-language Press TV website, July 6, 2009).
8. Al-Salfiti and his organization are cautious in their public statements, do not publicly identify with Hamas or radical Islam, and represent themselves as promoting "human rights." However, an analysis of publications dealing with their activities and public statements made by al-Salfiti and the British branch of the organization, indicates that their activities are often political in nature and serve a radical Islamic agenda, including that of Hamas.
9. Several examples from recent years are the following:
A. Accusing Israel of "war crimes" – Amjad al-Salfiti was interviewed by Iran’s English-language television channel, where he accused Israel of "war crimes" during Operation Cast Lead (Press TV, July 6, 2009).
B. Suing Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu following the death of Hamas terrorist operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh – Al-Salfiti’s name was mentioned as representing the al-Mabhouh family after Mahmoud al-Mabhouh died in Dubai.2 In March 2010, representing the family, he lodged a suit against Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu which also demanded punishment for the Mossad.3
C. Criticizing a proposed British law for the struggle against terrorism – In an Al-Arabiya TV program broadcast on August 8, 2008, he claimed that the proposed law dwarfed human rights.4
D. Representing a radical Islamic Egyptian preacher, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was denied entry into Britain – He represented the radical Islamic preacher, sheikh Wajdy Ghoneim, who was detained and deported on the grounds of incitement to terrorism, February 2009. He claimed that the British government had no evidence against his client and that his client preached reconciliation. He blamed the British Jewish community for Ghoneim’s deportation.5
E. Criticizing the Egyptian satellite company Nilesat for stopping its broadcasts of Iranian TV’s hate propaganda and incitement programs – In November 2009 Nilesat stopped broadcasting the Iranian Arabic-language channel Al-Alam TV, whose objective is to promote Iranian interests in the Arab world. Al-Salfiti criticized Nilesat, claiming it was operating unilaterally and violating its agreement with Al-Alam TV.6
F. Criticizing Egyptian activity targeting the Gaza Strip smuggling tunnels – The British branch of the organization issued a report claiming that the Egyptian security forces use dangerous substances in their fight against the tunnels’ activity and by doing so violate international law.7 The report includes the political propaganda battle Hamas is fighting against the Egyptian regime, which seeks to prevent rockets and other weapons from Iran from entering the Gaza Strip (it was recently shown that the use of the rockets is liable to endanger the security of Egypt and Jordan, not only Israel).
G. Claiming that there was no proof of genocide in Darfur – Al-Salfiti was interviewed in the past by Al-Jazeera TV as an expert on international law. In a discussion of whether or not there was genocide in Darfur, he listed the principles of the legal definition of genocide and concluded that it could not be determined that that was the case in Darfur.8 He added that if the United States claimed there was genocide in Darfur, it had to present proof. Thus, when in July 2010 the International Criminal Court issued its second warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on three counts of genocide, both Hamas and Hezbollah rushed to express solidarity with him.9
1 For further information see the February 21, 2010 bulletin, "Britain as a Focus for Hamas’ Political, Propaganda and Legal Activities in Europe.”
2 http://www.daralhayat.com/portalarticlendah/112840 , February 25, 2010.
3 http://egyoffline.blogspot.com/2010/03/blog-post_02.html, March 2, 2010.
5 http://www.shorokpress.com/news/page3.php?id= 4830, February 17, 2009
9 For further information see the July 25, 2010 bulletin, "Hamas and Hezbollah expressed sympathy with the president of Sudan over the second arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for counts of genocide.”