The understanding that Israel is operating as an apartheid state, whereby Palestinian citizens are systematically discriminated against and oppressed has been growing. But there still exists a fierce resistance to asserting this on mainstream media platforms.
This is likely to change, however, as Amnesty International has this week declared that Israel is indeed running an apartheid system.
Released on 1 February, the human rights organisation’s Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity report outlines why the Israeli system of governance warrants this distinction, basing this on 280 pages of evidence.
“Palestinians have been calling for an understanding of Israel’s rule as apartheid for over two decades and have been at the forefront of advocacy in that regard at the UN,” the report reads.
“Yet states, particularly Israel’s western allies, have been reluctant to heed these calls, and have refused to take any meaningful action against Israel.”
Amnesty sets out that the crime of apartheid is apparent both in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and it entails subjecting the Palestinian people to land and property seizures, unlawful killings, forced transfers, restrictions on movement, and the denial of nationality and citizenship.
The crime of apartheid
Entering into force in July 2002, the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute lists the crime of apartheid as a crime against humanity that involves the maintaining of an “institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups”.
While the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid in November 1973. It stipulates that the acts involved in this crime were apparent within the system of racial segregation operating in South Africa at the time.
The UN convention outlines that apartheid acts include denying a racial group the right to life or liberty, via the murder of its members, inflicting serious bodily or mental harm upon them, as well as the arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the targeted group.
Further apartheid acts involve the imposition of living conditions designed to destroy, legislative measures preventing participation in political, social, economic and cultural life, laws dividing a population along racial grounds, exploitation of labour and the persecution of opponents.
The Anti-Apartheid Movement launched a global boycotting campaign against South Africa, which placed such pressure on the De Klerk government that it dismantled the nation’s decades-long system of racial segregation and oppression in the early 1990s.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is calling on people around the globe to do the same in relation to Israel right now.
The Knesset – Israeli parliament – passed the Nation-State Law on 19 July 2018, which enshrined apartheid into law. The legislation stipulated that only Jewish people have the right to self-determination in Israel, and it downgraded Arabic from an official language.
Last May, Israeli forces subjected the open prison that is Gaza to another aerial onslaught. The eleven day assault that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in 248 Palestinians being killed, a quarter of whom were children.
The Amnesty report outlines that the catalyst for the violence was an 18th of May day-long general strike held by Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories, which signified that despite Israeli attempts to fragment Palestinian society, the nation continues to stand together as one.