Human Rights Watch: Israel Guilty of Apartheid

Among the recommendations laid out in the report is for the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged crimes against humanity.

A Palestinian boy and Israeli soldier in front of the Israeli West Bank Wall, August 2004. (Justin McIntosh, Wikipedia)

By Andrea Germanos
Common Dreams

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the policies and actions of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people amount to systematic “apartheid” and unlawful persecution that must be stopped.

The accusations related to Israel’s actions in the occupied territories (OPT) and within Israel are laid out in a new report entitled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.” The findings are based on over two years of research and documentation including official government statements, internal planning documents, and interviews.

“Human Rights Watch concludes that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT,” the report states. “In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid.”

The specific label of apartheid, the group notes, is accurate based on the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute’s definitions.

The accusation of persecution is based on “the widespread confiscation of privately owned land, the effective prohibition on building or living in many areas, the mass denial of residency rights, and sweeping, decades-long restrictions on the freedom of movement and basic civil rights,” the publication says.

HRW also notes that the report is not comprehensive, as it does not include all human rights abuses in the areas, including those committed by armed groups or Palestinian authorities.

“Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said in a statement. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

Replica of a section of the Israeli barrier built in London in 2013 as part of the international protest against the Israeli wall. (Timothy Titus, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Among the discriminatory actions detailed in the report is Israel’s allocation, or lack thereof, of water to Palestinians. From the report:

“Israel has used its control over parts of the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to serve its own citizens and settlers, in contravention of international humanitarian law which prohibits occupiers from exploiting natural resources for its own economic benefit. While 80% of the Mountain Aquifer’s water recharge area lies beneath the West Bank, Israel directly extracts about 90% of the water that is withdrawn from the aquifer annually, leaving Palestinians only the remaining 10% or so to exploit directly. In monopolizing this shared resource, Israeli authorities sharply restrict the ability of Palestinians to directly exploit their own natural resources and render them dependent on Israel for their water supply. For decades, authorities have denied Palestinians permits to drill new wells, in particular in the most productive Western Aquifer basins, or to rehabilitate existing ones. While the Oslo Accords of 1995 included provisions that promised to increase Palestinian access to water, Palestinian extraction levels have largely remained at pre-Oslo levels while the population has increased.

Despite the establishment of a ‘Joint Water Commission” (JWC) as part of the Oslo Accords, the World Bank in 2009 noted that Israel has retained “virtually all the power,” including veto power, over the West Bank’s water resources. While approving virtually all requests for Israeli-proposed projects to serve settlers, the JWC has rejected many Palestinian-initiated projects, including all requests to drill in the Western Aquifer Basin. Israelis are often permitted to drill deeper into the Aquifer, regularly develop internal settlement water networks without seeking JWC approval, and can extract water without limit when it flows downstream into Israel without need for JWC approval, while Palestinians face strict extraction quotas…

In addition, Israeli authorities have almost entirely deprived Palestinians access to water from the Jordan River, the only major surface water resource in the West Bank, by diverting its flow upstream of the West Bank.”

HRW says the findings should serve as a call to action to the international community.

Global powers like the U.S. and European Union’s approach to Israel thus far “overlooks the deeply entrenched nature of Israeli discrimination and repression of Palestinians there [and] minimizes serious human rights abuses by treating them as temporary symptoms of the occupation that the ‘peace process’ will soon cure.” This failure to hold Israel to account for its abuses, the report continues, has allowed the apartheid regime to “metastasize and consolidate.”

Among the recommendations the report lays out are for the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged crimes against humanity. The United Nations must also take action by establishing an envoy position focused on ending persecution and apartheid worldwide, and businesses operating in the OPT must stop contributing to any actions that facilitate the deprivation of Palestinian rights such as the demolition of their homes.

Israel, for its part, rejected the findings. Its foreign ministry dismissed the report’s claims as “both preposterous and false.”

Earlier this year, another human rights group—Israel-based B’Tselem—also said Israel acts as an apartheid regime in light of its policies “advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians.”

B’Tselem’s executive director Hagai El-Ad said at the time: “This sobering look at reality need not lead to despair, but quite the opposite. It is a call for change. After all, people created this regime, and people can change it.”

HRW’s Roth, in his statement Tuesday, gave a similar message.

“While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” he said.

“Those who strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, whether a one or two-state solution or a confederation, should in the meantime recognize this reality for what it is,” said Roth, “and bring to bear the sorts of human rights tools needed to end it.”

This article is from  Common Dreams.

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19 comments for “Human Rights Watch: Israel Guilty of Apartheid

  1. GMCasey
    April 29, 2021 at 16:08

    Dear Israel:

    Wasn’t one Holocaust enough?

    YOU are treating the Palestinians the way that the WW II Hitler people treated the Jewish people in Europe. That makes, “Never Forget,” a ridiculous thing to say, as you are treating the Palestinians that same inhuman way in the 21st century. You are a very sad nation with no credibility. I would like America to spend its foreign aid on people and nations who actually need it.

    • robert e williamson jr
      April 30, 2021 at 02:49

      B_K’s awareness is stiflingly brilliant , his delivery in it’s simplicity is art!.

      The killing will stop only when human awareness responds adequately to the moral, physical and waste that feeds those same humans unequaled lust for the blood of revenge.

      The hysterical response to the shock of being exposed to the most in humane treatment of one human by an other ever recorded in history, except the white mans treatment of the North Americans Native Peoples.

      What gives?

      B_K thank you PEACE IS EASY , give it a chance.

      Thanks to, CN

  2. robert e williamson jr
    April 29, 2021 at 12:22

    Sorry folks I just don’t see it any time soon. Key word soon. The flouting will continue!

    • April 29, 2021 at 16:07

      Yeah well if old fogies like yourself keep saying as such then maybe it will be true in your minds, but why would you want to espouse this view. Keep you mouth shut if all you got to say is projecting out your own negative opinion, cause could be you are wrong. The young folks on the new generations might want something better.
      It is a distinct possibility so consider that Mr. robert. Just cause it never get better for you doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever.
      Said in respect,

  3. April 29, 2021 at 10:31

    Call me naive, but here is an idea.
    The officials in the sovereign country of Israel say to the public at large: “We have heard Yahweh’s call, and we have decided to take down the walls. A call for peace has been made and we have heard the call.“.
    Imagine that sort of possibility. Well, if it can be imagined, then it can be so, and it has been imagined, so let it be. Why not? What is the threat of mixing together with others? Most of the time, consider DNA, it leads to better outcomes. Apartheid in the context of this article is criminal and the consequences are fateful. Justice knows that apartheid is so wrong, so let justice prevail.
    Consider that all you “leaders” of Israel, for whom it is obvious to many of us, so many and only more will be joining the ranks, that you are living in the past. Get with the game.
    Peace is easy.

  4. April 29, 2021 at 08:11

    It is sad to always read such reports of Palestinians suffering under Israel occupation.But it’s equally sad when the so called Global powers U.S and the EU only pay lip service while the occupation and disposition of Palestinians continues while Israel refuses to acknowledge any of the abuses against Palestinians llll.But,do they think that by denying any of the accusations makes them (crimes) go away? Instead of Israel always blaming Palestine for not wanting to talk peace,Israel must also initiate or put forward its own version of settlement plan of bringing peace between them and Palestine which accommodates the interests of Palestinians so the world can debate them. Otherwise that occupation can never go on forever. In the end Israel will never have real peace unless Palestinians have the same peace and equal rights in their own territories.

    • Anne
      April 30, 2021 at 12:16

      The reality is that it is the Zionists (who stole Palestine -and continue to grab the remainder) who do NOT want peace until every last Palestinian has died or left and then, after that occurs because western countries do not give an eff and nor do many others, they will continue to try to grab Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan perhaps….(Israel has NOT declared any borders.)

      The Palestinians have EVERY RIGHT – under International Law – to Resist in any way possible their dispossession (ethnic cleansing), and their oppression.

  5. CNfan
    April 29, 2021 at 01:44

    I agree with other commenters that this is great news. It is highly significant because it represents a major fracture in Israel’s control over international and national political entities. It’s part of a slowly growing realization and movement. That movement, and this fracture specifically, has been continuously covered in detail at hXXps://

  6. Sky Torigoe
    April 28, 2021 at 23:45

    Thank you so much for keeping the horrendous conditions of these people living in a virtual prison. Water, building materials, food, medicines, everything for life depends on a government sworn to eliminate them.
    Schools, hospitals bombed, 100s years old olive orchards shot up, kids arrested or worse, houses knocked down…we really have to face up and admit to these, not only criminal, but cruel acts.

    • Anne
      April 30, 2021 at 12:10

      These are war crimes …. but never, ever mentioned on western media. Only ever the “conflict” when Hamas fire a couple of big fireworks over the Gaza wall or some poor Palestinian is on the receiving end of “Israeli” bullets/bombs….

      And we cannot, should not, lay all of this zionist barbarsim, brutality, hubris, violence against the rightful dwellers in the land (all of it) Palestine onto what happened to those of Jewish background under the Nazis…This utterly inhumane, unethical, grotesque, compunctionless mindset ALREADY existed and was written down unashamedly in the latter half of the 19th century by the early Zionists, including Herzl….

      Vis a vis HRW suddenly realizing what is being done to the Palestinians: I would suggest that people obtain and read the following book: Nicola Perugini and Neve Gordon, ” The Human Right To Dominate.” Given what they have found, have considered, I wonder just how strong, deep is HRW’s concern about the Palestinians – in reality…

  7. Mike
    April 28, 2021 at 23:43

    Positive but long overdue. What is the line that must be crossed where apartheid is more accurately labelled genocide.

  8. robert e williamson jr
    April 28, 2021 at 21:42

    Move along, nothing new here to see.

    As long as the U.S. and Israel are allowed to flaunt international law not much will change.

    Biden is as bad as Trump when it comes to licking the boots of the Israelis. The Republicrats do the same and it is shameful.

  9. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    April 28, 2021 at 18:17

    Je n’accorde aucune crédibilité à “Human Rights Watch”; il en est de même pour Amnesty International; deux ONG financés par les affidés de la BÊTE, la dictature bourgeoise affairiste cléricale libérale, les Nazguls occidentaux.
    Israël est un État vassal de Washington, le Nazgul Biden.

  10. Georges Olivier Daudelin
    April 28, 2021 at 16:17

    Je n’accorde aucune crédibilité à “Human Rights Watch”; il en est de même pour Amnesty International; deux ONG financés par les affidés de la BÊTE, la dictature bourgeoise affairiste cléricale libérale, les Nazguls occidentaux.

    Israël est un État vassal de Washington, à l’obédience du Nazgul Biden.

  11. Bob Martin
    April 28, 2021 at 15:21

    This is a long overdue positive development.

  12. Drew Hunkins
    April 28, 2021 at 15:09

    This is all the more remarkable because HR has tended to whitewash Zionist aggression and brutality in the past.

    • Eric
      April 28, 2021 at 20:16

      Also remarkable because HRW takes a reactionary, pro-U.S. stance against progressive Latin American governments.

      But it’s very welcome, and should be useful to those faced with Zionist lawfare and anti-BDS campaigns.

      • Drew Hunkins
        April 29, 2021 at 00:17

        Exactly Eric.

    • Anne
      April 30, 2021 at 12:02

      As has every western govt and not a few in the same region as All Palestine (now known as Israel and two tiny “Palestinian” sections)…Orientalism (from the western position) writ large – and of course, the “problem” solved… (After all that was why Balfour was so keen and eager to go along with what those virulent Zionists, Herzl et al., wanted…Not that the Zionists, all being of low melanin, European, were any the less Orientalist…perhaps even more so.)

Comments are closed.