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On International Racial Discrimination Day, Al-Haq welcomes international recognition of Israeli Apartheid
21، Mar 2022

This International Racial Discrimination Day, Al-Haq would like to recognise and welcome a number of key reports that have been produced by Palestinian and international human rights defenders on the continuing Israeli Apartheid against the Palestinian People. The work of Al Mezan,[1] Amnesty International,[2] Human Rights Watch,[3] Diakonia,[4] and others[5] have all emphasised the ongoing system of Israeli oppression and domination against the Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line, as well Palestinian refugees and exiles in the diaspora denied their right self-determination and return.

Each report provides a unique perspective on the ongoing apartheid regime imposed on the Palestinian people as a whole. Al Mezan’s “The Gaza Bantustan, Israeli Apartheid in the Gaza Strip examines the apartheid regime imposed specifically on the Gaza Strip, considering how the restrictions make Gaza effectively a large open air prison, a “bantustan”.[6] The State of Palestine, Negotiations Affairs Department “It is Apartheid: The Reality of Israel’s Colonial Occupation of Palestine”, warns that “although prolonged occupation has enabled Israel to retain the occupied Palestinian population under its effective military control while entrenching Israeli-Jewish national domination, this is merely one fragment of a much broader apartheid regime spanning both sides of the Green Line. The report cites, Dr. Essop G. Pahad, Former South African Politician/Author who opined that “When South Africans visit Palestine most are shocked at how much worse apartheid is there than that of the old South Africa. And they comment that it cannot be called anything other than apartheid.[7] The report explains that “Given the failure of the international community to adopt economic sanctions and countermeasures against Israel for its manifest violations of international law, including for the annexation of Jerusalem, population transfer, and internationally wrongful acts of apartheid, it is incumbent on civil society and human rights defenders to lead and agitate for the boycott, divestment, and sanctioning of the State of Israel.[8]

Amnesty International’s, “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity” concentrates on how “the segregation is conducted in a systematic and highly institutionalized manner through laws, policies and practices” imposed by Israel whilst denying Palestinians their basic human rights.[9] Critically, the report emphasizes that Israel’s system is maintained by violations constituting the commission of the crime against humanity of apartheid as defined in the Rome Statute and the Apartheid Convention. Based on these conclusions, Amnesty International calls on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider the crime of apartheid in its current investigation in the OPT and the states to exercise universal jurisdiction to bring perpetrators of apartheid crimes to justice.[10]

In a “A Threshold Crossed - Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” Human Rights Watch, investigates Israeli apartheid and persecution against the Palestinian people and Israel’s systematic policy of fragmentation of the Palestinian people by which it maintains its apartheid regime. Human Rights Watch’s report comprehensively illustrates the Israeli authorities’ intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT, recognising that “a single authority, the Israeli government, ruling primarily over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, populated by two groups of roughly equal size, and methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.”[11] Additionally the report examines how the “settlement” system is being used to break up Palestinian communities in the West Bank and undermine “Palestinian political unity and territorial contiguity”.[12]

Further, Diakonia’s “Expert Opinion: Occupation and the Prohibition of Apartheid” provides a study on the interplay between international humanitarian law of occupation and the prohibition of apartheid. All these reports indicate that Israel maintains a system of oppression, violating international law and amounting to the commission of the crime of apartheid as defined in both the Rome Statute and the Apartheid Convention. Given these conclusions, many of the reports have further called for the ICC to consider the crime of apartheid during its current investigation into the OPT as well as requesting states to exercise universal jurisdiction to bring perpetrators of the apartheid to justice.[13]

These efforts have been made by Palestinian and International human rights defenders who continue to challenge Israel’s apartheid against the Palestinian people, despite various baseless attacks against them by the Israeli authorities, including amongst others, smears, the outlawing of human rights organisations under counterterrorism legislation, arbitrary arrests and  detention, residency revocations. Israel remains committed to trying to silence these voices recognise the widespread and systematic violations against the Palestinian people. These actions are but one of the many tools that Israeli authorities use to maintain Israel’s unlawful apartheid regime and, as such, constitutes an inhumane act of apartheid.[14] The latest effort was the decision of the Israeli “Defence” Ministry Benny Gantz to designate six eminent Palestinian human rights organisations as “terrorist” organisations, following their efforts to bring Israeli authorities before the International Criminal Court.[15] Given these actions, Al-Haq echoes the continued call by human rights defenders for investigations and international accountability for the crime of apartheid perpetrated by individual Israeli policy makers and military personnel who have created and maintain the discriminatory apartheid regime.

Al-Haq emphasises the importance of solidarity and the mounting recognition of the Israeli apartheid regime over the Palestinian people in the collective efforts and strategy to dismantle Israel’s institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination over the Palestinian people as a whole. Al-Haq recalls the constant effort of civil society organisations,[16] international organisations,[17] UN treaty bodies and experts,[18] and academics[19] in acknowledging and denouncing Israel’s apartheid. This includes a call for States who have not already done so, to ratify the Apartheid Convention, and for Third States to reconvene the UN Special Committee on Apartheid and the UN Centre Against Apartheid. Further, for the UN Human Rights Council to renew, without any further delay, the annual update of the database of companies operating in illegal settlements under the administration of Israel’s apartheid regime.

Al-Haq calls on the international community to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing and systematic apartheid. Recognising that the institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination imposed by Israel over the Palestinian people as a whole amounts to apartheid is the first step in bringing justice, liberation and decolonisation for the Palestinian people.





[7] State of Palestine, “It Is Apartheid: The Reality of Israel’s Colonial Occupation of Palestine” (8 June 2021) 41.

[8] State of Palestine, “It Is Apartheid: The Reality of Israel’s Colonial Occupation of Palestine” (8 June 2021) 40.

[10] Amnesty International, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians, Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity” (2022) 277.

[11] Human Rights Watch, ‘A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution’ (April 2021), <> accessed 28 April 2021.

[14] Article 2(f), Apartheid Convention, “Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.


[18] UN CERD, “Concluding observations on the combined seventeenth to nineteenth reports of Israel” (12  December 2019) UN Doc. CERD/C/ISR/CO/17-19, para 23; UN, “Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank would break international law – UN experts call on the international community to ensure accountability” (2020)

[19] Ilan Pappé, Israel and South Africa: The Many Faces of Apartheid (Zed, 2015); Virginia Tilley (ed), Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Pluto Press, 2012); John Dugard and John Reynolds, “Apartheid, International Law, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory” (2013) 24(3) European Journal of International Law 867; John Quigley, “Apartheid outside Africa: The Case of Israel” (1991) 2(1) Indiana International & Comparative Law Review 221.