Over the past few days, a series of deadly attacks have highlighted the urgent need for accountability. On January 26, Israeli forces raided the Jenin refugee camp and killed 10 Palestinians, including a 61-year-old woman. On January 27, seven Israeli civilians were killed when a Palestinian gunman opened fire in Neve Ya’akov, an Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. In response to this attack, Israeli authorities have stepped up collective punishment of Palestinians, carrying out mass arrests and threatening to destroy homes.
“The devastating events of the past week have revealed once again the deadly costs of the apartheid system. The failure of the international community to hold Israeli authorities accountable for apartheid and other crimes has given them a free hand to segregate, rule and oppress Palestinians on a daily basis and help perpetuate deadly violence. Apartheid is a crime against humanity, and frankly it’s chilling to see how perpetrators evade justice year after year,” said Agnès CallamardSecretary General of Amnesty International.
“Israel has long tried to silence the findings of apartheid through targeted smear campaigns, and the international community allows itself to be harassed by these tactics. Until apartheid is dismantled, there is no hope of protecting civilian life and no hope of justice for grieving families in Palestine and Israel.
Under apartheid, Israeli authorities control virtually every aspect of Palestinian life, subjecting them to daily oppression and discrimination through territorial fragmentation and legal segregation. Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are separated into separate enclaves, and those living in the Gaza Strip are cut off from the rest of the world by Israel’s illegal blockade, which has caused a humanitarian crisis and is a form of collective punishment.
Daily evidence of apartheid
On February 1, 2022, Amnesty International published a report shows how Israel implements an institutionalized system of oppression and control over Palestinians wherever it controls their rights: in Israel, in the OPT, and against displaced refugees by denying their right of return. It showed how Israeli laws, policies, and practices are regulated with the overall goal of maintaining a Jewish demographic majority and maximizing land and resources for the benefit of Jewish Israelis at the expense of Palestinians.
2022 became one of the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since at least 2005, when Israeli forces killed some 153 Palestinians, including dozens of children, mostly in increased military strikes and arrest operations. Research by Amnesty Internationalstated that 33 Palestinians, including 17 civilians, were killed by Israeli forces during the August 2022 attack on Gaza and that at least seven civilians were killed by rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups.
At the same time, violence against Palestinians in Israeli settlements increased for the sixth consecutive year in 2022 with attacks including physical assaults, property damage and destruction of olive groves. Israeli authorities have an extensive record of condoning and facilitating this violence, including by arresting Palestinians under attack, providing armed escort for settlement residents, or simply watching from the sidelines as Palestinians are beaten and their property destroyed. This culture of impunity has encouraged more violence, as evidenced by recent attacks on settlements.
Since the shooting attack in Neve Ya’akov, Israeli authorities have appeared to incite more violence against Palestinians by announcing plans to speed up the issuance of gun permits “so that thousands more citizens can bear arms”. prime minister Benjamin Netanyahuwhich has already vowed to massively expand illegal settlements across the OPT, also said the government plans to “strengthen the settlements”.
All Israeli settlements in the OPT are illegal under international law, and Israel’s longstanding policy of placing civilians in the occupied territories means war crime.
Increased settlement expansion puts countless Palestinians at risk of forced displacement a crime against humanityto which the Israeli authorities are systematically committed. A recent example is the Supreme Court decision issued in May 2022, which gave the green light to the forced transfer of more than 1,150 Palestinians from Masafer Yatta in the West Bank.
Last year, Israeli authorities also added plans to destroy the unrecognized village of Ras Jrabah in Israel’s Negev/Naqab region, displacing its 500 Palestinian Bedouins, while in January 2023 the Bedouin village of Al-Araqib was demolished for the 212th time. . Amnesty International’s apartheid report showed how forced evictions in the Negev/Naqab and the entire OPT are carried out to meet Israel’s demographic goals.
In the midst of international recognition for these violations, the Israeli authorities are guilty of apartheid. Palestinians have long demanded that the Israeli regime be understood as apartheid, and Palestinian organizations such as Al-Haq, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Al Mezan have been at the forefront of the UN’s pursuit of this goal.
The push for such recognition gained momentum in 2022 when two UN special rapporteurs concluded that Israeli authorities were practicing apartheid. At the Human Rights Council, the number of states referring to Israel’s apartheid doubled from nine in 2021 to 18 in 2022. In particular, South Africa and Namibia are among the states that have expressed concern about Israel’s apartheid treatment of the Palestinians. Several international and Israeli human rights organizations have also called for an end to apartheid, including Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, and Yesh Din.
The Israeli authorities have gone to great lengths to suppress and discredit apartheid perceptions. The consequences are particularly severe for Palestinian human rights defenders – in August last year, Israeli authorities raided the offices of seven leading Palestinian NGOs after labeling them “terrorist entities” and outlawing them. In December, Salah Hammouria field researcher for the prisoners’ rights organization Addameer, was denied residency in Jerusalem and deported to France after spending nine months in Israeli administrative detention.
Ignorance of international law
In May 2023, Israel’s human rights situation will be subject to scrutiny through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council. Amnesty International has written to the Israeli authorities urging them to participate, but they have not yet agreed to do so review process.
The Israeli authorities have ignored most of the recommendations made by the State Review and adopted by the Human Rights Council during the previous UPR cycle in 2018. For example, despite repeated calls over the years and then in 2018 to end administrative detention, Israel currently holds over 860 Palestinians without charge or trial – the highest number in 15 years.
“The Israeli authorities’ long-term disregard for their obligations under international law and the recommendations of the international community continues to have serious consequences for the Palestinians and also undermines the protection of Israeli rights,” said Agnès Callamard.
“No state may systematically violate international law, including binding UN Security Council resolutions, with impunity. We demand that states end all support for Israel’s violations and resign from years of inaction by holding Israeli authorities accountable.”
*Based on data from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for February 2022-31. December 2022; and a January 2023 report from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Source: Amnesty International