The Israeli government is committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians and must be held accountable, Amnesty International said today in a new report. The research details how the Israeli government enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it has control over their rights. Crucially, this report finds that an apartheid system extends not only to Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), but also throughout Israel and to displaced refugees in other countries.
The comprehensive report, Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity, documents human rights violations – including seizures of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer, drastic movement restrictions, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians – that together constitute a system of apartheid under international law.
Palestinians experience different levels of oppression depending on their status and where they live. Segregation, dispossession, and exclusion of Palestinians across all territories form part of a systematic and widespread attack directed against the Palestinian population.
“Apartheid touches on the most intimate moments of a Palestinian’s life. It separates families and destroys homes. For decades, Palestinians, from Gaza to Hebron, from East Jerusalem to the Negev/Naqab, have been stripped of their rights,” said Paul O’Brien, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. “The Israeli government’s system of apartheid violated international law, and serious human rights violations committed to maintain the system constitute crimes against humanity. This system does not exist in a vacuum – foreign governments, including that of the United States, facilitate apartheid by supplying the Israeli government with arms and failing to hold Israeli authorities accountable for their systemic human rights violations.”
Among the key findings of the report, Amnesty International’s research shows that dispossession and displacement of Palestinians is a crucial pillar of the Israeli government’s apartheid system. Notably, the report documents how within Israel, Palestinians are effectively blocked from leasing 80% of Israel’s state land as a result of land seizures and a web of racist laws on land allocation, planning, and zoning. Israeli authorities have overall demolished hundreds of thousands of Palestinian homes and other properties across all areas under the government’s authority and effective control. Since May 2021, the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem has seen frequent protests as families struggle to keep their homes under the threat of a settler lawsuit.
“We want to be very clear – it is unacceptable and inappropriate for this report to be used as justification for any recrimination against the Jewish people,” added O’Brien. “We condemn antisemitism in the strongest possible terms. Our focus is squarely on the actions of Israel’s government and the system of oppression and domination imposed on the Palestinian people through Israeli laws, policies, and practices.”
The organization is calling for an end to the brutal practice of home demolitions and forced evictions as a first step. The Israeli government must grant equal rights to all Palestinians in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in line with its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. It must recognize the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to homes where they or their families once lived and provide victims of human rights violations and crimes against humanity with full reparations.
“The Biden administration must call on the government of Israel to end its systemic repression and grossly discriminatory policies,” said Alicia Koutsoulieris, Amnesty International USA Member and Country Specialist for Israel/OPT/State of Palestine. “We also ask that the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, and Government Accountability Offices investigate and issue a public report on the credible evidence of Israeli forces’ use of U.S.-made weapons, security aid, and Israeli arms bought with U.S. funds to commit grave human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.”
A system of apartheid is an institutionalized regime of oppression and domination by one racial group over another. It is a violation of public international law and a grave violation of internationally protected human rights. Amnesty International’s extensive research and legal analysis, carried out in consultation with external experts, demonstrates that the Israeli government enforces such a system against Palestinians through laws, policies, and practices which subject them to prolonged and cruel discriminatory treatment.
Under international law, specific unlawful acts which are committed within a system of oppression and domination, with the intention of maintaining it, constitute the crime against humanity of apartheid. These acts are set out in the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and include unlawful killing and serious injury, torture, forcible transfer, persecution, and the denial of basic rights and freedoms.
Amnesty International’s findings build on a growing body of work by Palestinian, Israeli, and international NGOs, who have increasingly applied the apartheid framework to their analysis of the situation in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Contact: Vanessa Parra, [email protected]