LONDON (Dispatches) -- Amnesty International on Tuesday released a report that labels Israel as an apartheid regime, becoming the latest organization to join a cadre of human rights groups that have used the term to describe the occupying regime’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinians.
The 280-page-report, based upon research conducted from 2017 to 2021, said that since 1948 the Zionist regime has pursued policies that “benefit Jewish Israelis while restricting the rights of Palestinians”.
“Israel’s system of institutionalized segregation and discrimination against Palestinians, as a racial group, in all areas under its control amounts to a system of apartheid,” Amnesty said.
“The segregation is conducted in a systematic and highly institutionalized manner through laws, policies and practices, all of which are intended to prevent Palestinians from claiming and enjoying equal rights with Jewish Israelis.”
This is the case both for Palestinians in Occupied Palestine, which make up 20 percent of the population, and the five million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
Apartheid is a legal term defined by international law that refers to systematic oppression by one racial group over another.
In its report, Amnesty called on the United Nations Security Council to “impose targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid, and a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel”.
“The embargo should cover the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer, including transit and trans-shipment of all weapons, munitions and other military and security equipment, including the provision of training and other military and security assistance,” the report said.
Prior to the report’s release, the occupying regime of Israel on Monday urged the rights group against publishing the study and accused the conclusions as being “false, biased and antisemitic”.
It was also attacked by a number of pro-Israel groups including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), which said the report was a “misguided and backward-looking effort to vilify Israel”.
Speaking at a press conference in occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday, Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general, said: “Our report reveals the true extent of Israel’s apartheid regime. Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem (Al-Quds) and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights.
“It is the cruelty of the system, the intricate evolving administration of control, dispossession, and inequality [and] the incredible detailed bureaucratization upon which that system is predicated,” she said.
“Its sheer banality and, at times, absurdity has taken my breath away.”
B’Tselem, the Zionist regime’s leading human rights group, said the report marked a “new consensus, recognizing the fact that Israel employs a regime of Jewish supremacy between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” and an “essential step in the struggle to change this reality”.
The report is the latest amongst a number of rights groups, both Israeli and international, that have similarly accused the occupying regime of apartheid.
In January 2021, B’Tselem labeled Israel as an “apartheid” regime, saying it has adopted a policy to “divide, separate and rule” over the Palestinians, who have rights “inferior” to those afforded to Jews.
Then later in April, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report saying that Israel’s dual policies, which are codified in its laws, privilege Jews while repressing Palestinians, and had “crossed the threshold” into apartheid.
“Over time, research conducted by Palestinian human rights organizations, and more recently some Israeli human rights groups, has contributed to broader international recognition of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid,” Amnesty’s report said.
Dozens of Hollywood stars have also recently cited HRW’s report and taken stances in support of Palestinian rights.
Still, despite the increasing number of rights groups labeling Israeli policies as amounting to apartheid, the United States and the Zionist regime’s other Western allies have refrained from making any such declarations.
“States, particularly Israel’s western allies, have been reluctant to heed these calls, and have refused to take any meaningful action against Israel,” Amnesty’s report said.
An ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently looking at all alleged violations that Israel has committed against Palestinians.
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) agreed to launch the probe following Israel’s May 2021 aggression on Gaza, which martyred at least 248 Palestinians including more than 60 children.
Amnesty called on the ICC to continue its probe and also consider whether apartheid is a part of the crimes that the occupying regime of Israel is guilty of.
The rights group also called on the occupying regime to either repeal or amend its law, which passed despite fierce protest from Palestinian citizens and other critics. The law states that Israel is “the national home of the Jewish people” and the “right to exercise national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people”.
Amnesty highlighted the crimes Israel has committed such as: the forcible transfer of Palestinians; Israel’s destruction of homes and land owned by Palestinians; the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians “without charge or trial”; and the killing and injuring of thousands of Palestinian civilians, often in circumstances “suggesting that the killings were systematic”.
The report comes amid ongoing campaigns across the occupied Palestinian territories to expel Palestinian residents and make way for Zionist settlers.
Earlier this month, settlers seized a plot of land and Israeli forces demolished the house of the Palestinian Salhiya family in occupied East Al-Quds’ Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, which has become a simmering flashpoint over the past year amid the ongoing campaign to displace Palestinian families.
Settler violence has been on the rise in recent months, with the United Nations reporting that 370 settler attacks led to property damage in 2021 and another 126 assaults resulted in casualties.
The occupying regime has also come under renewed pressure after an 80-year-old Palestinian American was killed shortly after being in Israeli custody.
An autopsy reportedly showed that he had bruises on his head as a result of traumatic brain injuries, and there was internal bleeding in his eyelids from being blindfolded tightly.
“Amnesty International is not aware of any case in which an Israeli army soldier or member of another security force has been convicted of willfully causing the death of a Palestinian in the [occupied Palestinian territories] since 1987,” the report said.