A United Nations human rights expert on Tuesday accused the Israeli occupation of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinians and subjecting them to widespread, systematic and arbitrary detention since the 1967 Middle East war.
Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories, said Israel had treated all Palestinians as potential security threats and violated their rights to due process, fair trial and humane treatment.
“There is no other way to define the regime that Israel has imposed on the Palestinians—which is apartheid by default—other than an open-air prison,” Albanese told reporters in Geneva.
She said the Israeli occupation had arrested and detained more than 800,000 Palestinians, including children as young as 12, over the past five decades, often without charge or trial, and subjected them to torture, ill-treatment and solitary confinement.
She also said the Israeli occupation had used unlawful detention practices, such as administrative detention, secret evidence, military courts and mass arrests, that could amount to international crimes.
Israel’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva dismissed Albanese’s findings as biased and unfounded.
Albanese presented her report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, based on a six-month investigation and consultations with various sources. She said she did not visit the occupied Palestinian territories before submitting the report due to “Israel’s continued refusal to facilitate her entry.”
Her report comes amid rising tensions in the region, following a series of Israeli drone strikes on the city of Jenin in the West Bank last week, which Israel said were aimed at dismantling Palestinian resistance groups.
The Israeli occupation captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt in the 1967 war. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally, and built settlements in the West Bank and Gaza.