Why has Amnesty finally admitted Israel is an apartheid state?

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An Amnesty report recently concluded that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people. Curtis Daly explores the facts.

Video transcript

Desmond Tutu: “I have visited the occupied Palestinian territories, and I’ve witnessed the humiliation of Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints. The Inhumanity that won’t let ambulances reach the injured, farmers attend their land or children attend school. This treatment is familiar to me, and the many black South Africans who were corralled and harassed by the security forces of the apartheid government”.

Amnesty International has released a report into the crimes of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. The report was damning and it concluded that Israel is an apartheid state.

Israeli authorities must be held accountable for committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians”. That is what was said by Amnesty following the report.

Titled Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity, it found “Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights. We found that Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid. The international community has an obligation to act”. Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s secretary general.

It’s about time a well regarded international body was blunt about this. It’s time to stop pussy footing around: the people of Palestine have been systematically oppressed and murdered.

Read on...

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Gaza has often been described as an open air prison, where Palestinians live in fear and the Israeli army controls many aspects of their lives.

Moreover, last year, Israeli forces killed 86 Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza, 51 died from airstrikes, and 19 were killed with live ammunition.

According to Defense for Children Palestine, “since 2000, 2,198 Palestinian children have been killed as a result of Israeli military and settler presence”.

68,000 people across thirty five Bedouin villages are “unrecognised” by Israel, with no access to water supply and the electricity grid. 

Israel continues its annexation of occupied Palestinian territories, demolishing the homes of Palestinians and building settlements from which Palestinians are excluded.

Almost two years ago, then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then opposition leader Benny Gantz formed a coalition and agreed a deal that formalised the process of annexing the West Bank further, contrary to international law. Although their coalition fell after just a year, it shows that the major parties support the apartheid regime.

Palestinians are treated as 2nd class citizens. They are denied a nationality.

Those that live in the West Bank and Gaza have no citizenship, and they must have ID cards issued by Israel in order to wish to live and work there.

In 2018, a constitutional law was confirmed which declared Israel as the “nation state of the Jewish people”, it also enshrined in the law that the Arabic language is no longer considered official.

What is happening in Palestine is disgusting, yet any acknowledgement of this has seen a huge kickback.

Following on from the report, Israel is set to ‘punish’ Amnesty, beginning with ending their tax-exemption status.

The Jewish Chronicle and The Board of Deputies have joined in on the attack of Amnesty too, claiming that the use of apartheid is a smear.

Palestinians are cut off from the rest of the world, and much of the mainstream media does not accurately report their plight. Those that do are targeted.

In 2021, an Israeli military air strike destroyed the offices of Al Jazeera in Gaza – a building that also housed the Associated Press and residential apartments. Those inside were only given an hour to evacuate before the building was flattened. 

The mainstream media reporting of Israel/ Palestine is nothing short of appalling. According to Media Lens, the Guardian downplayed the Amnesty report. With accusations of anti-Semitism being at the fore-front.

Antisemitism is a huge problem in society, and of course it exists in pockets on the left, but it has and always will be a prominent feature of the far-right. But the accusations of Antisemitism cannot allow the media to ignore the glaringly obvious apartheid regime. Yet the BBC didn’t feature the Amnesty report on the news at 10.

Oftentimes, the media debate around Israel/Palestine is reported as a conflict – as a complicated issue in which both sides engage in illegal activity.

This is a complete and deliberate misrepresentation of a simple situation. Israel is attacking Palestine.

The US – prominent supporters of the Israeli state – are hypocrites in their selective support for human rights. The Biden administration has no issue in supporting reports on abuses in regards to China, Cuba, and Burma. However, they rejected Amnesty’s report on Israel.

This fantastic quote from Callamard in the summary of the response to the report shows what needs to happen now:

“The international response to apartheid must no longer be limited to bland condemnations and equivocating. Unless we tackle the root causes, Palestinians and Israelis will remain locked in the cycle of violence which has destroyed so many lives.”

She is entirely correct. The response from much of the international community has been pathetic. Those who do stand up to the Israeli government are often attacked, but we cannot let that put us off. We must stand together in solidarity with the Palestinian people and against Israeli apartheid. 

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