Israeli authorities are committing crimes of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians, global advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, has said in its latest report.
The 213-page report released Tuesday said the term apartheid has generally been used in a “descriptive or comparative” sense in relation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and as a warning of what might happen if current trajectories with regard to Palestinians continue.
The organisation argued that based on existing international law, the overarching Israeli policy toward Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem constituted an agenda to both maintain Jewish Israeli domination and systematically oppress Palestinians.
The report said the “threshold” into a crime against humanity has already been crossed.
“The Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinians territory,” the report read.
“That intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid.”
The United States-based advocacy group also pointed to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement and seizure of Palestinian-owned land for Jewish settlement in territory occupied in the 1967 Middle East war as examples of policies it said were crimes of apartheid and persecution.
“Across Israel and the (Palestinian territories), Israeli authorities have pursued an intent to maintain domination over Palestinians by exercising control over land and demographics for the benefit of Jewish Israelis,” the report says.
“On this basis, the report concludes that Israeli officials have committed the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” as defined under the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute.
Israel has since dismissed the organisation’s report, calling it “propaganda”.
“Human Rights Watch is known to have a long-standing anti-Israel agenda, actively seeking for years to promote boycotts against Israel,” Israel foreign ministry said in a statement.
“Their decision not to share this report for review or comment with any Israeli authority is clear indication that it is a propaganda pamphlet, which lacks all credibility.”