newsIsrael at War

US NGO gathers names of IDF officers, presses for prosecution

The group posted to its website wanted-type posters, or "Prime Suspect cards,” featuring name, rank and photos of IDF officers.

A situational assessment conducted by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, with the commanders and soldiers in southern Israel. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
A situational assessment conducted by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, with the commanders and soldiers in southern Israel. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

A U.S.-based anti-Israel NGO has been collecting names of Israel Defense Forces officers and petitioning for their arrest in the United States and international fora, according to a report released by NGO Monitor on Sunday.

DAWN (Democracy for the Arab World Now) has sought “arrest warrants against Israelis” at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Court of Justice at the Hague (ICJ) and with the U.S. government, according to the report.

Since Oct. 7, the radical NGO, whose extremist propaganda includes attacks against Israel for “war crimes,” “occupation” and “apartheid,” has only increased its anti-Israel harassment, the watchdog group said.

In December, DAWN submitted a list of 40 senior Israeli commanders to the ICC prosecutor, urging an investigation for their “planning, ordering, and executing Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment, wanton destruction, and mass killing of civilians in Gaza.”

It posted to its website wanted-type posters, or “Prime Suspect cards,” featuring the photos of IDF officers with their names, ranks and purported roles. Among those included were IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari.

“There is no indication that DAWN submitted any Palestinian names to the ICC,” NGO Monitor noted.

A “Prime Suspect Card” of IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi created by radical NGO DAWN. Source: Screenshot.

On Oct. 9, 2023, a mere two days after the horrific Hamas attack that took the lives of 1,200 Israelis, DAWN called on the ICC prosecutor to remind the parties that an investigation into war crimes was ongoing and that it would “include all crimes currently taking place.”

It urged the prosecutor to “immediately dispatch an investigation team to Gaza.”

DAWN has submitted anti-Israel requests to the U.S. State Department including in October 2022 a Leahy Law referral against the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda Battalion for alleged “systematic and widespread abuses.” (The Leahy Law refers to two provisions prohibiting U.S. assistance to units of foreign security forces implicated in the commission of human rights violations.)

The group also requested that the State Department sanction an Israeli reserve military judge and issue a visa ban on IDF Brig. Gen. Naama Rosen-Grimberg, military secretary to Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Similarly, in September 2023, DAWN was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to block Israel’s entry into the U.S. Visa Waiver program.

DAWN was launched in 2022, the brainchild of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist killed in 2018 on the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a 2021 U.S. intelligence report.

Khashoggi had a history of antisemitic posts, to the point of suggesting belief in the infamous antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The current executive director of DAWN is Sarah Leah Whitson. She signed an open letter dated Jan. 17 titled “Global Support for Brazil’s Backing of South Africa’s ICJ Petition.”

“Whitson previously served as director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch (HRW) from 2004-2019. Working closely with executive director Ken Roth, she played a central role in HRW’s antisemitic obsession with Israel,” NGO Monitor reported.

The background and attitudes of other members of DAWN’s board detailed by NGO-Monitor are equally troubling.

Esam Omeish was the former national president of the Muslim American Society (MAS), which according to federal prosecutors “was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”

Another, Nihad Awad, was co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood front group and named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation trial.

NGO Monitor, which said DAWN is not entirely transparent regarding its funding, nevertheless was able to identify several sources, including George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Arca Foundation.

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