Originally published at Common Dreams
Palestine advocates on Tuesday welcomed a new report in which Amnesty International became the latest on a growing list of human rights organizations to explicitly call Israeli policies and actions against Palestinians “apartheid.”
The report—entitled Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity—shows how the theft of Palestinian land and homes, forced transfers, unlawful killings, severe restrictions on movement, and other human rights violations “are all components of a system which amounts to apartheid under international law.”
“Our report reveals the true extent of Israel’s apartheid regime. Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights,” Amnesty International secretary general Agnès Callamard said in a statement. “We found that Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession, and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid. The international community has an obligation to act.”
In a statement introducing the report, Amnesty asserted that “there is no possible justification for a system built around the institutionalized and prolonged racist oppression of millions of people.”
“Apartheid has no place in our world,” the group continued, “and states which choose to make allowances for Israel will find themselves on the wrong side of history.”
“Governments who continue to supply Israel with arms and shield it from accountability at the U.N. are supporting a system of apartheid, undermining the international legal order, and exacerbating the suffering of the Palestinian people,” Amnesty’s statement added. “The international community must face up to the reality of Israel’s apartheid, and pursue the many avenues to justice which remain shamefully unexplored.”
The report breaks down Israel’s apartheid regime, including:
- Israel’s intent to oppress and dominate;
- The fragmentation of Palestine into domains of control;
- Israel’s segregation and control of Palestinians;
- Israeli dispossession of Palestinian land and property;
- The deprivation of Palestinian economic and social rights;
- The forcible transfer of Palestinians;
- Israel’s administrative detention and torture of Palestinians;
- The unlawful killing and serious injury of Palestinians; and
- The denial of basic human rights and freedoms and persecution of Palestinians.
The publication traces the roots of the current situation from the “ethnic cleansing” of hundreds of thousands of Arabs during the foundation of the modern state of Israel in 1948, to the ongoing decadeslong illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the continuing theft of Palestinian property and resources, the construction of exclusively Jewish settler colonies on stolen land, the military bombardment and economic strangulation of Gaza, and the separation and oppression of Palestinians through physical barriers, checkpoints, mass surveillance, and other systems of control.
“In 1948, before Israel was established, Palestinians comprised around 70% of the population of Palestine (then a British mandate territory) and owned about 90% of the privately owned land,” the report states. “Israeli authorities have acted to turn that situation on its head.”
“The totality of the regime of laws, policies, and practices described in this report demonstrates that Israel has established and maintained an institutionalized regime of oppression and domination of the Palestinian population for the benefit of Jewish Israelis—a system of apartheid—wherever it has exercised control over Palestinians’ lives since 1948,” Amnesty concludes.
Apartheid is a crime against humanity, as defined in the Rome Statute and Apartheid Convention. The report calls on Israeli and Palestinian authorities, as well as the “international community” and the International Criminal Court to “investigate the commission of the crime of apartheid under international law.”
While many Palestinians and individuals ranging from the late South African bishop and human rights campaigner Desmond Tutu to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to United Nations special rapporteurs have for decades called Israel’s policies and actions in Palestine apartheid, major Western human rights organizations—including Human Rights Watch and the Israeli groups Yesh Din and B’Tselem—have only recently begun to do so.
Human rights defenders praised the new Amnesty report. Nihad Awad, the Palestinian-American executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement that the publication is “further recognition of what has been blazingly obvious: the Israeli government has been engaged in the systematic imposition of apartheid on the Palestinian people.”
“Now is the time,” added Awad, “for the international community to move beyond words and towards action in defense of the Palestinian people and their human rights.”