Amnesty International has released a report regarding Israel’s apartheid of Palestine. The report has been met by criticism from Israel and applause by human rights activists. Israel has called for the report to be withdrawn and has accused Amnesty International of antisemitism.
Israeli foreign minister, Yair Lapid, said that “Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations.”
The report’s themes are clear – Israel is guilty of apartheid against the Palestinian people. The report has over 11 themes through which to derive these conclusions. Forcible transfers, forced evictions and demolitions are present in Israeli occupation of Palestine. Israel actively demolished 848 Palestinian residential services and livelihood structures in the occupied West Bank territories, which includes East Jerusalem. This destruction has led to the displacement of 996 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Israeli officials argued that the demolished buildings lacked Israeli-issued permits, which are near impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
Israel has discriminated against Palestinian citizens in areas of planning, budget allocation, policing, and political participation. Israel maintains over 65 laws that discriminate against Palestinians. Israeli military and police further used unnecessary and excessive force during law enforcement activities. Military and security forces killed at least 31 Palestinians, including 9 children. A large portion of these victims were killed unlawfully by live ammunition and excessive force when posing no imminent threat to life. Amnesty International concludes that many of these unlawful killings could be considered war crimes.
With the previous two themes, Amnesty International reports that the Palestinian right to freedom of movement is limited; Palestinians face arbitrary detention, torture, unfair trials; limits to freedom of expression and association. Furthermore, the rights of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants are not upheld. Gender-based violence against Palestinian women persisted. Amnesty International reports that at least 21 women were killed as a result of gender-based violence. Read the full report here.
Although some reactions to the report have been generally positive amongst those who support the Palestinian right for self-determination, others have criticized Amnesty International specifically for publishing the report, yet withholding a decision on the status of occupation. In a series of Tweets, Amnesty International explained their report, and concluded that although they report that Israel is guilty of apartheid, they will not be making a formal statement on the occupation.
Many criticized this move – Palestinians have been arguing for decades that Israel is guilty of apartheid, discriminiation, and occupation. Although the validation of apartheid by a human rights organization can be helpful, it falls short of the impact needed to support Palestinian self-determination.
Overall, the Amnesty International report stands as a symbol of liberal human rights – although it is a step in the right direction, what awaits is a mountain of steps for Palestinians to be free of Israeli occupation.