Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians in the occupied territories, said a US-based rights watchdog in its latest report.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its report says Israel is pursuing a policy “to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians”, including those who are its citizens.
It said, “About 6.8 million Jewish Israelis and 6.8 million Palestinians live today between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, an area encompassing Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), the latter made up of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”.
Throughout most of this area, Israel is the sole governing power; in the remainder, it exercises primary authority alongside limited Palestinian self-rule, the report added.
Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically “privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians”.
Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy.
“In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity,” the HRW said.
“In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” it added.
From 1967 until the present, Israel has militarily ruled over Palestinians in the OPT, excluding East Jerusalem.
By contrast, it has since its founding governed all Jewish Israelis, including settlers in the OPT since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, under its more rights-respecting civil law.
The finding of crimes against humanity, it said, should prompt the international community to reevaluate its approach to Israel and Palestine.
Human Rights Watch also urged states to establish through the UN an international commission of inquiry to investigate systematic discrimination and repression based on group identity in the OPT and Israel.