Zionists committing crime of apartheid: Human Rights Watch

TEHRAN, Apr. 27 (MNA) – Human Rights Watch says that Zionist officials are committing the crimes of apartheid, calling on the International Criminal Court to prosecute "Zionist officials."

Human Rights Watch has stated that Zionists officials are committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution, saying the regime enforces an overarching policy to “maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians”, The Guardian reported.

In a report released on Tuesday, the New York-based advocacy group became the first major international rights body to level such statements. It said that after decades of warnings that an entrenched hold over Palestinian life could lead to apartheid, it had found that the “threshold” had been crossed.

The report drew on years of human rights documentation, analysis of Israeli laws, a review of government planning documents, and statements by officials.

Human Rights Watch compared policies and practices towards nearly 7 million Palestinians in the occupied territories and within Israel with those concerning roughly the same number of Jewish Israelis living in the same areas.

It concluded there was a “present-day reality of a single authority, the Zionist regime … methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.”

First used in relation to South Africa’s racist segregation against non-white citizens, apartheid – which is Afrikaans for “apartness” – is a crime against humanity under international law.

Under the 1998 Rome statute that established the international criminal court (ICC), apartheid is defined as an “institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other” with the intent of “maintaining that regime”. 

Persecution, which is also a crime against humanity, is defined as “the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights” of a group of people.

Human Rights Watch said that inside the Zionist regime – where about a fifth of the 9 million citizens are Palestinians – and in the occupied territories, authorities had sought to maximize the land available for Jewish communities and concentrate most Palestinians in dense population centers.

It said Zionist authorities “systematically discriminate against Palestinians”. This was most extreme in the occupied territories, it said, including the West Bank, which Zionists captured in the six-day war in 1967. 

Several hundred thousand Zionist settlers now live there as citizens while about 2.7 million Palestinians are not and live under military rule.

Human Rights Watch’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, said this was not simply “an abusive occupation”. “These policies, which grant Jewish Israelis the same rights and privileges wherever they live and discriminate against Palestinians to varying degrees wherever they live, reflect a policy to privilege one people at the expense of another,” Roth said.

Regarding the occupied West Bank, the Zionist regime points to agreements signed in the 1990s that afforded Palestinians limited self-rule there. However, Human Rights Watch says the Zionist regime still “retains primary control over many aspects” of their lives, including borders, natural resources, and movement of people and goods.

Meanwhile, about 2 million Palestinians live under a strict blockade in Gaza. Zionist forces pulled out of Gaza in 2005 but still maintain control of its borders, sea, and airspace.

A shift in perception towards apartheid is part of a movement led by activists that gained momentum following Israeli annexation threats they say prove the occupation is permanent, as well as laws that enshrine extra political rights for Jews over Arabs, two developments that Human Rights Watch cited in its report.

It called on the ICC prosecutor to “investigate and prosecute those credibly implicated” and called for sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on responsible officials, without naming them.

Last year the same rights group found that abuses by the Myanmar government against Rohingya Muslims also amounted to the crimes of apartheid and persecution.

RHM/FNA14000207000217/PR

News Code 172667

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