Amnesty webinar: apartheid in Israel


Personal testimony from a Palestinian describing destruction of villages

November 2022

Readers will be familiar with the issue of the apartheid system operating in Israel from a previous post which offered links to reports by Human Rights Watch, the UN, B’Tselem and Amnesty. The reports are detailed accounts of the system operating there which means Palestinians are denied freedom of movement, proper education and suffer from demolitions of their villages and uprooting of olive groves.

An article in the Foreign Policy Journal in 2021 – itself referring to an article in the Haaretz newspaper – describes the extensive use of firing zones and that around 18% of the West Bank is so designated. These Area C ordinances have ‘a degree of control so suffocating that every aspect of Palestinian life – freedom of movement, education, access to clean water and so on – is controlled by a complex system of Israeli military ordinances that have no regard whatsoever of the well-being of beleaguered communities‘. The areas are under military law whereas Israeli citizens are under civil law.

In last night’s Amnesty webinar (1 November 2022) we heard from witnesses as to how this system actually works. Cars are confiscated (and the FPJ refers to the seizure of the only vehicle conveying medical supplies) and people are forcibly evicted from their homes. There are checkpoints everywhere with lengthy delays to get through. The community described is called Masafer Yatta.

If a Palestinian should lodge an appeal in the courts they said, the Army will arrive and demolish homes and clinics before the court has time to sit. Entire villages have been so demolished. No alternative locations are offered it was claimed. The Israelis say the homes have been built without permission but since courts refuse most permissions this seems a somewhat unworthy argument.

We asked what can be done? The main response was to make sure our MPs are aware of the situation. They also pointed to a petition https://www.parallelparliament.co.uk/petitions/625771/take-action-to-prevent-expulsion-of-residents-from-masafer-yatta.

The Israeli government’s response to the Amnesty report in particular has been described in various articles as ‘hysterical’. Whereas the HRW and B’Tselem reports could largely be ignored, Amnesty has a much larger profile and so a major effort had been launched to counter it. An analysis of Israeli responses can be read here. They amount to 1. Amnesty is antisemitic, 2. it denies the right of Israel for self-determination and 3. holds Israel to ‘uniquely harsh standards’ it does not apply elsewhere. The main point is that we were unable to find a detailed response to the findings of the reports pointing out errors of fact in the Amnesty or other reports.

Israeli Apartheid: The power of the frame, the shame of the name — Mondoweiss


Even a scholar who opposes the label says, “Israel does not have a case against apartheid.” That is the power of the apartheid framing. The label for Israel has gained broad acceptance because of the widening awareness of the death of the Two State Solution — that Israel never really wanted a legitimate, contiguous Palestinian state.…

Israeli Apartheid: The power of the frame, the shame of the name — Mondoweiss

Starmer denies apartheid report


Sir Keir Starmer – leader of the UK Labour Party – does not accept the Amnesty report on Apartheid in Isreal

Sir Keir is quoted today* saying that ‘he did not accept the findings of the Amnesty report that Israel is an apartheid state’. This was said in connection with a visit by representatives of the Israeli Labor party in London.

Amnesty is not the only organisation to find that Israel is running an apartheid state. In January 2021, B’Tselem – an organisation based in Israel – produced a detailed report which concluded the same thing. This was followed by Human Rights Watch in July who also produced an extremely detailed report which also concluded that Israel was an apartheid state. Then there was the Amnesty report in February this year closely followed by the UN special rapporteur’s report in March. Four trusted organisations, all of whom producing factual and detailed reports and all concluding that Israel was indeed running an apartheid state as far as the Palestinians were concerned. Exactly as in South Africa, rights were removed, homes were demolished, movement restricted and two sets of laws created for Jews and Palestinians.

It is therefore extremely difficult for Sir Keir Starmer to deny the conclusions of the Amnesty report without also denying all the others. The Labour party was bedevilled by allegations of anti-Semitism during the Corbyn years a stain which still remains. Unfortunately, any criticism of the state is met by claims of anti-Semitism. All the above reports were so condemned.

Sir Keir is no doubt sincere in his desire to rid his party of any anti-Semitism. But he will not do that by denying the facts. If he does not accept the Amnesty report (and by extension all the others) he should rebut it item by item. It is disappointing that someone who wants to become leader of the country and import some integrity into our politics, should act so cravenly.

*Guardian 29 April 2022

Further link added 1 May 2022

Apartheid in Israel: UN report


UN report concludes there is apartheid in Israel

In a significant development this week (21- 27 March 2022), the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the OPT published a landmark report concluding that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid. Due to his mandate, he was only able to look at the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories but his findings are similar to Amnesty’s.  Amnesty’s detailed response can be read in full here.

This is a link to a short video made outside the Israeli Embassy in London to highlight the campaign against apartheid.

In a previous post, we discussed the issue in greater detail and provided links to two other reports by B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch which provide copious evidence of the Israeli government’s dreadful behaviour towards its Palestinian citizens. The UN report can be accessed here.

The response from Jewish groups has been fierce. A report in the Jewish Journal included the following quotes:

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Meirav Eilon Shahar accused Lynk (the UN rapporteur) of promulgating “baseless and outrageous libels previously published by NGOs that share the same goal as the author of this report: to delegitimize and criminalize the State of Israel for what it is: the Nation State of the Jewish People, with equal rights for all its citizens, irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

Jewish Journal, 24 March 2022

Other comments include assert the report is ‘biased’ contains ‘outrageous libels’, ‘baseless allegations’ and a ‘gross distortion of the truth and should be placed in dustbin of antisemitic history’.

Amnesty report on apartheid in Israel


Amnesty joins Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem in declaring Israel an apartheid state

Israel works hard to present itself as a modern, pluralist state and enjoys close links with its diaspora particularly in the USA. It enjoys favourable coverage in the UK with the majority of media who are either silent about these issues or are quick to condemn criticism of the state.

We have previously reported on two other reports by respected organisations which came to the same conclusions: one by Human Rights Watch and the other from within Israel by B’Tselem. Both reports go into great detail with many examples of how the apartheid system works in Israel.

The introduction to the Amnesty report says:

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, 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 UN are supporting a system of apartheid, undermining the international legal order, and exacerbating the suffering of the Palestinian people. The international community must face up to the reality of Israel’s apartheid, and pursue the many avenues to justice which remain shamefully unexplored.

From the Amnesty Report

The response by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs was ‘[the report was a] collection of lies, biased claims, and recycled reports from other anti-Israel organisations’.

The report (pdf) details the bases of the apartheid claim:

  • massive seizures of land and Palestinian property
  • unlawful killing
  • restrictions on the right [of Palestinian’s] to political representation
  • drastic movement restrictions
  • denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians.

Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights.

It is interesting to note the difference between how the treatment of Palestinians in Israel contrasts with things like the Berlin wall. There were regular features of the wall with film of people attempting to scale it and footage of border guards shooting at those seeking to escape East Germany. Film of the Israeli wall by contrast are rare. During the apartheid regime in South Africa, there was considerable coverage of civil disturbances and many companies decided to cease trading there. There is precious little sign of that in the UK media’s coverage of Israel. Indeed, in the Telegraph – a right wing newspaper in the UK – the coverage led, not on the report itself and a summary of some of the conclusions, but with the Israeli government’s response: Israel labels Amnesty International ‘anti-Semitic’ over ‘apartheid’ report leaving minimal coverage of what Amnesty said to a few short sentences at the end of the piece. They also featured a 6 minute video interview with the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia with no balancing footage [accessed 2 February]. Labelling any criticism of Israel as ‘anti-Semitic’ is an automatic response and is unjustified with any of the three reports mentioned.

Dr Agnès Callamard the secretary general of Amnesty said in response: “Amnesty International stands very strongly against antisemitism, against any form of racism, we have repeatedly denounced antisemitic acts and antisemitism by various leaders around the world.” Source: Times of Israel.

The report makes a large number of recommendations. With three detailed reports now published it is hard for Israel to ignore and deny the accusation of apartheid.

We have come across this video of a young girl who has made several videos and this one is worth watching. Janna Jihad video – Amnesty

Huge spy leak uncovered


Israeli company involved in supplying spyware to some of the world’s worst regimes

July 2021

The Israeli company NSO has been involved in selling spyware to a variety of regimes including Hungary, India, Mexico, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and UAE. The Spyware, called Pegasus, enables the governments and their agents to penetrate mobile phones and listen to messages, download call lists and turn the device into a microphone. Amnesty International has been a key player in uncovering the scandal.

The technology is used to intercept all manner of individuals who are critical of the regime or who are engaged in uncovering corruption. Lawyers, human rights defenders, opposition leaders and journalists are all able to be targeted by the technology. The victims will be unaware that their phones and all their personal details and contacts have been penetrated. The Israeli firm claims it ‘does not operates the systems that it sells to vetted government customers’. NSO has said the claims are false.

The evidence of Amnesty’s Security Lab is extensive and on many of the phones it has forensically examined, it found evidence of Pegasus activity. Even the editor of the Financial Times was found on a list of phone numbers leaked to Forbidden Stories who are leading the investigation.

There is extensive coverage in the Guardian in the UK and in other newspapers around the world. Clearly the story has not ended yet and there will be more revelations to come. There will also be reactions when the extent of penetration, the use the information has been put to to stifle debate and silence opposition is uncovered. Whether the Israeli government is more involved than it claims remains to be seen.

Followers of this blog will be familiar with this activity and the technology used to penetrate phones and iPhones. We published a blog concerning a firm near Salisbury which makes and sells equipment similar to NSO, concerning the firm Gamma TSE at Porton. There is no suggestion they are associated with the NSO organisation.

Israel accused of Apartheid


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).

Palestine: SCIP event and UK government action


Salisbury Concern for Israel, Palestine is holding a Zoom event

SCIP is holding a Zoom meeting on 29 April 2021 in which the Jerusalem academic, Jeff Halpen will speak about his ideas for the future of Palestine. Jeff is the author of Decolonising Israel: Liberating Palestine. Zoom opens at 18:45. He will be joined by three other guests. Details on the link below:


Boris Johnson’s reaction to the ICC case and Palestine

Palestine Briefing – parliamentary newsletter and briefing service


Johnson declaration undermines ICC inquiry into Palestine war crimes


Boris Johnson took a sudden last-minute decision this week to oppose the International Criminal Court inquiry launched last month into war crimes that may have been committed in the West Bank and Gaza since 2014.
While declaring his support for the ICC, the Prime Minister said this particular inquiry was “an attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s”.

In the past the ICC has turned down Palestinian requests for inquiries into Israeli conduct in Gaza and the West Bank on the grounds that Palestine was not a state. This situation changed in 2012 when Palestine was recognised as a state by the UN and again in 2015 when it was accepted as a member by the ICC – and the UK did not vote against either.

The Palestinian request for an inquiry – made in 2015 – took five years to be processed and even in 2020, when the chief prosecutor was ready to launch an inquiry, she asked a panel of judges to rule whether the ICC really had jurisdiction. Germany put forward counterarguments, as did Hungary, Brazil and Australia, but the judges ruled last month – in March 2021 – that there was no jurisdictional problem and therefore the inquiry could go ahead. Again the UK did not publicly oppose.

On the day of the announcement the Israeli prime minister launched a diplomatic offensive, summoning all his ambassadors at a weekend and ordering them to set all other work aside and lobby their host governments to block the inquiry. The lobbying appears to have been successful. That is why the Prime Minister’s announcement, which is of vital, even existential, significance to a Palestinian state, was made neither in Ramallah, nor in Jerusalem, nor even by the Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons, but in a letter from Downing Street to the Conservative Friends of Israel.

Palestinian ambassador Husam Zomlot said: “It is clear that the UK now believes Israel is above the law. There is no other interpretation of a statement that gives carte blanche to Israel. If ‘friends and allies’ are exempt from international law, there is no foundation for the rules-based global order.”

Two questions now arise. The Middle East minister made a statement about the ICC inquiry on March 2nd which made no mention of a change in policy. What happened since then to change the Prime Minister’s mind?

Secondly, Scottish QC Karim Khan takes over as ICC Prosecutor in June and will be responsible for conducting the inquiry. Could the Prime Minister’s letter conflating UK support for reform of the ICC with the UK’s new-found opposition to an inquiry be intended to influence him?

Dear Stephen, Eric and Stuart,

As you are aware, the UK is a strong supporter of the ICC in line with its founding statute. We have been working with other countries to bring about positive change at the Court’. This process has been driven by our ambition to strengthen the ICC. The election of two highly qualified UK nationals, Judge Joanna Korner QC and Karim Khan QC, to the roles of Judge and Prosecutor to the ICC respectively, will help serve reform. This was a key priority for the UK, demonstrating our enduring commitment to strengthening the Court and serving international justice.

As a founder member of the ICC, we have been one of its strongest supporters and continue to respect the independence of the institutions. We oppose the ICC’s investigation into war crimes in Palestine. We do not accept that the ICC has jurisdiction in this instance, given that Israel is not a party to the Statute of Rome and Palestine is not a sovereign state. This investigation gives the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s.

Yours ever, Boris

Israel and vaccinations


UPDATE: 30 JANUARY 2021

Press release from Amnesty International on this subject.

UPDATE: 19 January 2021

In the BBC’s World at One on Radio 4 today, programme went someway to rectify the complete failure to mention Palestinians in their earlier broadcasts.  They had a lengthy clip and an interview with Tom Bateman in which this matter was discussed.  Whether this was in response to complaints about their previous bias we cannot know.  Amnesty was mentioned in the clip.  


Serious bias in BBC report on progress with vaccination in Israel

Last week, on the BBC’s radio 4 programme PM which is broadcast between 5pm and 6pm each day, the presenter, Evan Davies interviewed a journalist from the Jerusalem Post about the rapid progress being made in Israel with vaccinating its citizens.  Around 12% had already had their first vaccination and Evan Davies was clearly impressed.

What neither he, nor the journalist, mentioned it was only Jewish citizens who were being vaccinated, not Palestinians in the occupied territories or in Gaza.  Perhaps this news item was put together in haste and slotted into the programme as it was a rare good news story in the current gloom.

However, a detailed report has been produced six days ago by B’Tselem, based in Israel, which analysed in considerable detail the second class status of Palestinians (not just with vaccinations) and their report, called This is Apartheid, concludes that Israel is effectively an Apartheid state.  The BBC cannot claim ignorance.

BBC fails to mention that no Palestinians are being vaccinated in Israel

It is therefore very surprising and extremely troubling that on the BBC’s World at One programme today (18 January 2021), Sarah Montague hosted a 4 and a quarter minute clip – including an interview with the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent, Tom Bateman – again lauding the rapid progress made with Israel’s vaccination programme which has now reached 20%.  The interview was again a fulsome piece about what is happening in Israel but shockingly, neither of them mentioned that no Palestinians are being vaccinated.

Human Rights Watch points out that Israel, as the occupying power, is obliged under the 4th Geneva Convention to ensure that adequate medical supplies are available including for contagious diseases and epidemics.

The reasons for Israel’s actions are complex and they claim they have insufficient vaccines to give and that they have not received any request from the Palestinian authorities.  Given the pace of the vaccination programme, the former seems a weak argument.  Whatever the reasons, there seems no credible reason why the BBC, which is supposed to provide balanced reporting and impartiality, should twice broadcast pieces and interviews and completely fail to mention the lack of vaccination of Palestinians.

See our earlier blog on the B’Tselem.

The Israeli Government has strongly denied the Apartheid claim.

Sources: BBC; Independent, HRW

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