In a new report, Human Rights Watch said that Israel is pursuing an apartheid policy toward the Palestinian population in both Israel and the Palestinian territories. According to the human rights organization, Israel is thus trying to “preserve the control of Israeli Jews over the Palestinians.”
The Israeli government responded strongly to these allegations, and spoke of an “incorrect report.” Consequently, Human Rights Watch undermines Israel’s right to exist as the state of the Jewish people, says Minister Beton for Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy.
The use of the term “apartheid” appears to refer to a policy of structural discrimination that has been in place in South Africa for decades, but that is not what Human Rights Watch is about. The organization says that specific Israeli actions and rules can be considered an apartheid under international law. Apartheid is a crime against humanity.
They were stripped of their possessions, imprisoned, and subjugated.
In the 200-page report, Human Rights Watch noted that 6.8 million Israeli Jews and about the same number of Palestinians live between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, but that Israelis have ruled the area for decades.
“In almost all aspects of life, the Jewish population enjoys structural privileges from the Israeli authorities, and discrimination is made against Palestinians,” the report said. For example, according to Human Rights Watch, Palestinians were “subjected to a greater or lesser extent to confiscation of their property, imprisonment, forcible separation, and subjugation on the basis of their origins.”
One of the main pain points for the human rights organization is that residents of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank enjoy more rights than Palestinians. For example, there are methods that can only be used by Jews.
Moreover, Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to military law and Jews to civil law, which provides much greater protection. The report concluded that the right to self-determination is reserved for Jews.
Hardly any freedom of movement
Even in occupied East Jerusalem, which Israel considers part of Israel itself, Palestinian residents enjoy a status that affords them fewer rights. According to Human Rights Watch, the fact that the Palestinian population is divided between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel, with solid borders and hardly any freedom of movement, contributes to the repression.
It is true that 1.6 million Palestinian residents of Israel enjoy positive and negative voting rights, but this is not sufficient to be free from institutional discrimination, says the human rights organization. In practice, they are not permitted to enter much of Israel; They live on only 3% of Israeli land, according to Human Rights Watch.
Israel describes the allegations as “absurd” and “false” and says that Human Rights Watch is waging a campaign against Israel that “has nothing to do with reality.” According to the Israeli government, Human Rights Watch has been seeking an international boycott of Israel for years.
Israel notes that the report was written by Omar Shakir, head of the Israeli-Palestinian branch of Human Rights Watch. Shaker is an American of Iraqi origin who was expelled by Israel in 2019 for allegedly supporting the movement that wants to boycott Israel. He himself contradicts it.