Amnesty International has labelled Israel an apartheid state in a report released today, making it the latest human rights group to charge Tel Aviv with imposing a system of racial segregation.
Titled “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians” the 211-page report concludes that the occupation state has imposed a “cruel system of domination” and is committing “crimes against humanity.”
“Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued an explicit policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony,” Amnesty, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977, said, adding that it is “maximizing its control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis while minimizing the number of Palestinians and restricting their rights and obstructing their ability to challenge this dispossession.”
In its designation of Israel as an apartheid state, Amnesty went further than previous reports, which concluded that occupation state is practicing a system of racial segregation but limited the practice as a feature of areas under its control. Amnesty is more expansive in its designation and applies Israel’s practice of apartheid to the state’s international operations.
Amnesty argues that “almost all of Israel’s civilian administration and military authorities” are involved “in the enforcement of the system of apartheid against Palestinians across Israel” and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as “against Palestinian refugees and their descendants outside the territory.”
Speaking at a news conference in occupied East Jerusalem to launch its report, Secretary General of Amnesty International Agnès Callamard highlighted the ongoing eviction of Palestinian Bedouin from the Negev. “They live on less than three per cent of the Negev area, is that too much? Too much for what? Too much for who?” she asked.
“Settlements and outposts that have multiplied and multiplied and multiplied” on Palestinian land, she added. “All with the support of the institutions.”
“All amount to a system and crime of apartheid.”
There are nearly six million Palestinian refugees worldwide. They are descendants of the 750,000, non-Jewish Christian and Muslim Palestinians, that were expelled from their homes during Israel’s creation in what historians widely regard as an act of ethnic cleansing.
Israel has obstructed their return at every opportunity. Defying international law and UN resolutions that explicitly call on the occupation state to permit them to return to their homes, Israel constituted a racist 1950 “law of return” that permit every Jew to settle in the homes of evicted Palestinians but denies the same right to the indigenous non-Jews that were expelled.
The Israeli government, along with lobby groups in the West, who for decades have jealously guarded the occupation state’s image as a democracy thinking it to be vital to maintain the support of Americans and Europeans, have rushed to slam the report as anti-Semitic.
“We have no other choice but to say that this whole report is anti-Semitic,” Lior Haiat, a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, said. “We reject all the false accusations that are made by Amnesty International UK. This report [is] a collection of lies, is biased and it copies from other reports from anti-Israel organisations,” Haiat added.
An Amnesty International UK spokesman dismissed these allegations. “Amnesty’s report is part of our commitment to exposing and ending human rights violations wherever they occur. No government is above criticism, and that includes the Israeli government,” the spaceperson said.
Our research shows that Israeli authorities are enforcing a system of apartheid against the Palestinian people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian refugees. The report documents how Israel treats Palestinians as an inferior racial group, segregating and oppressing them wherever it has control over their rights.
Last year prominent rights organisations Human Rights Watch and the Israeli group B’Tselem released landmark reports labelling Israel an apartheid state. Another Israeli rights group Yesh Din had begun using the term in 2020 though Palestinians have for decades described the system of domination to which they have been subjected a form of apartheid. Leaders of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu was one of the most vocal global figures to slam Israeli apartheid.