JERUSALEM (AFP) – Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday (April 27) that Israel is committing the crime of “apartheid” by seeking to maintain Jewish “domination” over Palestinians and its own Arab population, an explosive allegation fiercely denounced by Israel.
Currently under investigation by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, Israel blasted HRW’s accusations as “preposterous and false”, accusing the New York-based group of having “a long-standing anti-Israeli agenda”.
HRW said its finding that Israel is “committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution” against Palestinians was based on robust sourcing including government planning materials and statements by public officials.
The 213-page report finds that the Israeli government is the “single authority” with primary control “over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea”.
Within that territory, there is “an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians,” HRW said.
The group said its findings apply to Israeli treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, the blockaded Gaza Strip, annexed east Jerusalem as well as Arab Israelis – a term referring to Palestinians who stayed on their land following Israel’s creation in 1948.
HRW said that while apartheid was initially coined with respect to institutional persecution of blacks in South Africa, it was now a universally recognised legal term.
An apartheid system is defined by “an effort to maintain domination by one racial group over another, a context of systematic oppression by the dominant group over the marginalised group (and) inhuman acts,” the group said.
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, told AFP there have been warnings for years that “apartheid is around the corner”.
“I think it’s quite clear that that threshold has been crossed,” Shakir said from Jordan.
A US citizen, Mr Shakir was the first foreign national deported by Israel for allegedly supporting an international boycott movement that seeks to isolate Israel, an allegation he denies.
Israel’s foreign ministry told AFP the HRW report amounted to a “propaganda pamphlet” from an