Apartheid is a violation of international law, a gross violation of internationally protected human rights, and a crime against humanity under international criminal law.
The term “apartheid” was originally used to refer to a political system in South Africa in which racial division, domination, and oppression were imposed by one racial group over another. Since then, the international community has adopted this term to condemn and criminalize such systems and practices wherever they are located in the world.
Under the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, the Rome Statute, and Customary International Law, the crime against humanity of apartheid occurs when an inhuman or atrocious act is committed in the context of an institutionalized system of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another to maintain this system.
Israel’s apartheid regime against the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is no longer a matter of controversy, but rather a plain fact. Therefore, it has become necessary to work to put an end to the Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians and its racist policies against them.
Since the United Nations International Convention of 1973, and the Rome Statute, apartheid has become one of the ten crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
In May 2021, the Human Rights Council established the first Commission of Inquiry in its history to look into “all the underlying root causes” behind the persecution of Palestinians and the “systematic discrimination and oppression to which they are subject based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.”
This Commission of Inquiry is unprecedented in terms of its mandate and scope because it includes the entirety of colonized Palestine, and constitutes one of the most important avenues available for campaigning and advocacy efforts against Israel’s settler-colonial apartheid regime.
The International Criminal Court also has jurisdiction over the crime of apartheid as part of its investigation into the situation in Palestine. The crime of apartheid has never been brought before international or domestic courts.
An Amnesty International investigation also showed that Israel imposes a regime of oppression and domination against Palestinians in all areas under its control: in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as against Palestinian refugees, for the benefit of Israeli Jews. This system amounts to apartheid, which is prohibited under international law.
The investigation documented how massive appropriations of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forced transfers, severe restrictions on freedom of movement, and denial of citizenship and nationality to Palestinians all form parts of a system that amounts to apartheid under international law.
This order is maintained by violations found by Amnesty International to constitute apartheid and a crime against humanity as defined in the Rome Statute and the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention).
Also, Human Rights Watch published a report saying that the Israeli authorities are committing two crimes against humanity: apartheid and persecution. The organization’s findings were based on the Israeli government’s policy of maintaining the dominance of Israeli Jews over the Palestinians and the grave abuses being committed against Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories.
On March 21st 2023, Amnesty International offices around the world are delivering petitions, signed by more than 200,000 people from at least 174 countries to the Israeli authorities, calling on them to end the demolition of Palestinian homes as a first step towards dismantling the apartheid system. Amnesty International’s petition, “Destroy apartheid, not Palestinian homes,” will be directed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.