The rights group Human Rights Watch issued a report on Tuesday stating that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
The report, A Threshold Crossed: Israeli authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, examines what it calls an Israeli policy to maintain the domination of Palestinians by Jewish Israelis.
In its 213 page report the organisation said that it aimed at assessing ‘whether specific acts and policies’ constitute apartheid as defined under international law.
Kevin Jon Heller, Professor at the University of Copenhagen, said on Twitter ‘The importance of Human Rights Watch deeming Israel’s control over the OPT apartheid, cannot be overstated. Human Rights Watch’s willingness to use the term ‘apartheid’ will likely open the floodgates for others to follow suit.’
The report calls on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and try Israelis who are implicated in crimes against humanity.
According to the Rome Statute of the ICC apartheid is a crime against humanity.
Israel has rejected the apartheid characterisation, stating that its Arab population enjoys full civil rights.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry reacted to the report by satin that ‘Human Rights Watch is known to have a long-standing anti-Israeli agenda.’ The Ministry described the claims in the report as ‘preposterous’ and ‘fake’.
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch said to Al Jazeera: ‘Human Rights Watch does not make crimes against humanity determinations lightly. This is the most stark findings we have ever reached on Israeli conduct in the more than 30 years that we have worked on the ground. Apartheid is no longer a hypothetical future scenario—it is the present-day reality for millions of Palestinians.’
Shakir added: ‘ We are not the first or last organization to make this determination. It is beyond time for the international community to recognize the reality on the ground for what it is and take the sorts of human rights and accountability measures that a situation of this gravity warrants.’
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