Damning report by human Rights Watch published
A damning report accusing the Israeli government of Apartheid was published today (27 April 2021). The 213 page report goes into copious detail about the wide range of actions by the Israeli government, which in the view of HRW amount to the crime of Apartheid. The report echoes the previous report published by B’Tselem in January alleging the same thing.
Apartheid as a policy of discrimination against an ethnic or racial group is closely linked to South Africa where the white settlers practised a wide range of discriminatory policies against the black population. The practice was defined in 1973 by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the 1998 Rome Statute (not ratified by Israel) to consist of three elements:
- An intent to maintain domination by one racial group over another
- A context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalised group
- Inhuman acts.
The actions by the Israeli government against Palestinians are extensive and include systematic discrimination against them. A range of abuses are carried out the report says including sweeping movement restrictions, confiscation of vast swathes of land in the West Bank, forcible transfer of Palestinians out of their homes – thousands of which are demolished – denial of residency rights and the suspension of basic human rights to millions of Palestinians.
“Denying millions of Palestinians their fundamental rights, without legitimate security justification and solely because they are Palestinian and not Jewish, is not simply a matter of an abusive occupation. These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another” Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, HRW.
The report draws on years of human rights documentation, case studies, and a review of government planning documents, statements by officials and other sources. HRW wrote to the Israeli government in July 2020 but received no reply. Even during the Covid-19 crisis, twenty times more Jewish people have received vaccination in comparison to Palestinians.
Inhuman acts include expropriation of land and property, creation of separate reserves and ghettos, and the denial of a right to leave and return to their country.
The Israeli government has acted with continuing impunity safe in the unwavering support it receives from the USA. It has repeatedly denied access to the UN Commission on Inquiry into Gaza. It also denies access to Amnesty and other human rights organisations researching allegations of war crimes during the various conflicts.
Human Rights Watch argues that this report, and others, should prompt a re-evaluation by the international community into the nature of its engagement with Israel. They should adopt a more human rights centred approach rather than continue to cling to the stalled peace process. Arms sales and security equipment should be conditional on Israeli authorities taking concrete and verifiable steps to ending the commission of the crimes described in the report. Countries persist with viewing the occupation as temporary whereas in reality, the oppression of Palestinians has reached a permanence which meets the threshold of apartheid and persecution.
The Israeli government dismissed the report as ‘preposterous and false’ but did not respond to any of the central assertions within it. (Sky News, 27 April)
Sources: Amnesty International; Guardian; Human Rights Watch; B’Tselem; Sky News
UPDATE: We have added Israeli Campaign Against Housing Demolitions to the list of contact addresses at the bottom of this site (30 April). This followed a presentation at a SCIP meeting (29 April).