DAYS OF PALESTINE – In a report it released on Tuesday, Amnesty International labelled “Israel” an apartheid state that treats Palestinians as “an inferior racial group,” joining the assessment of other rights groups that label Israeli policies against Palestinian people as apartheid.
The 280-page report by the leading rights group details how Israeli occupation authorities enforce a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinians.
The investigation lists a range of Israeli abuses, including extensive seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, administrative detention and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians.
Amnesty’s report describes these as components of a system that amounts to apartheid under international law.
“This system is maintained by violations which Amnesty International found to constitute apartheid as a crime against humanity,” the group said in a statement.
Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued a policy of establishing and maintaining a “Jewish demographic majority”, the report said. Israel also exercises full control over land and resources to benefit Jewish Israelis, including those in illegal settlements.
Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the “purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded”, the London-based group said.
“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,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general.
Speaking at a press conference in occupied Jerusalem, Callamard called on the international community to take “resolute action against the crime against humanity being perpetrated in order to maintain the system of apartheid”.
“It is the cruelty of the system – the intricate evolving administration of control, dispossession, and inequality [and] the incredible detailed bureaucratisation upon which that system is predicated,” she said. “Its sheer banality, and at times absurdity that has taken my breath away.
“Our conclusions may shock and disturb – and they should,” she continued.
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“Some within the government of Israel may seek to deflect from them by falsely accusing Amnesty of attempting to destabilise Israel, or being anti-Semitic, or unfairly singling out Israel. But I am here to say that these baseless attacks, barefaced lies, fabrications on the messenger will not silence the message in an organisation of 10 million members the world over.”
Amnesty called on the UN Security Council to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel, as well as “targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid”.
Amnesty said the unlawful killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza is perhaps the “clearest illustration of how Israeli authorities use proscribed acts to maintain the status quo”.
It was referring to a period over 2018 and 2019 where Palestinians in Gaza held weekly demonstrations along the Israeli separation fence, calling for the right of return for refugees and an end to the blockade.
The Great March of Return protests were met with violence by Israeli occupation forces, who fired tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and live ammunition, mostly by snipers. By the time the demonstrations were suspended at the end of 2019, Israeli forces had killed at least 214 Palestinians, including 46 children, according to the UN.
“The international response to apartheid must no longer be limited to bland condemnations and equivocating,” Callamard said.
“Israel must dismantle the apartheid system and start treating Palestinians as human beings with equal rights and dignity.” She added.
It is noteworthy that the findings of Amnesty International that “Israel is an apartheid state” are in complete consistent with the conclusions reached by many human rights organizations such as New York-based Human Rights Watch, and the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.
For its part, the Israeli occupation foreign ministry called on Amnesty to “withdraw” the report.