Israel Accused of Enforcing Apartheid on Palestinians

Amnesty International said Tuesday that Israel has maintained “a system of oppression and domination” over the Palestinians, one that meets the international definition of apartheid. “Our conclusions may shock and disturb — and they should,” Amnesty Secretary General Agnes Callamard said at a press conference in occupied East Jerusalem. Among the participants in the news conference two Hadash lawmakers: Aida Touma-Sliman and Ofer Cassif.

Agnes Callamard, the Secretary-General of Amnesty International (speaking) at the press conference in Jerusalem together with Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director Philip Luther, February 1, 2022 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

The accusation was leveled against Israel both within its borders and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In a report unveiled in Jerusalem, the group did not directly compare Israel to apartheid South Africa, but said it was evaluating Israel’s policies based on international conventions.

In the report compiled over more than four years, the global rights organization analyzed decades of legislation and policy which it said proved Palestinians were treated as an inferior racial group. “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 said.

“The USA, the European Union and its member states and the UK, but also those states that are in the process of strengthening their ties – such as some Arab and African states… must recognize that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid and other international crimes,” read the report. Amnesty called on those actors to “use all political and diplomatic tools to ensure Israeli authorities implement the recommendations outlined in this report and review any cooperation and activities with Israel to ensure that these do not contribute to maintaining the system of apartheid.”

Through more than 280 pages, Amnesty detailed a system that reportedly discriminates against Palestinians in everything from family life to a shoot-to-kill policy. The report quotes various Israeli political leaders whose statements demonstrate their explicit “intention to maintain this system” of apartheid, Amnesty said.

The organization strongly criticized other countries for issuing “formulaic condemnations” following reported crimes committed by Israel. “The international community has stood by as Israel has been given free rein to dispossess, segregate, control, oppress and dominate Palestinians,” the report said.

Callamard said in a statement released on Tuesday that Israel racially discriminated against Palestinians. She rejected accusations of bias leveled against the organization. “”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,” Callamard said.  MK Touma-Suleiman agreed, “What is established is an apartheid regime evolving in front of the world, and the world has to interfere in order to stop this.”

The full report (280 pages, in English):

Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity – Amnesty International