“Israel has created and maintains an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination over Palestinians, which is enforced across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories through reinforcing discriminatory laws, policies and practices,” states a new report by Amnesty International.

Compiled over four years, it argues that this regime “when seen as a totality, controls virtually every aspect of Palestinians’ lives and routinely violates their human rights. This system of apartheid has been built and maintained over decades by successive Israeli governments across all territories they have controlled”.

It calls on the United Nations, International Criminal Court, states and businesses to recognise apartheid in Israel, and act to end the crimes against humanity being committed by that state.

“All states may exercise universal jurisdiction over all persons reasonably suspected of committing the crime of apartheid, while states that are party to the Apartheid Convention have an obligation to do so,” the report observes, “including to prosecute, bring to trial and punish those persons responsible for the crime.”

It recalls that the ICC opened an investigation last March into “Rome Statute crimes” committed by Israel inside Occupied Palestine. It calls on “the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC to consider the applicability of the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current formal investigation.”

In view of the documented crimes it calls on the UN Security Council to ensure that officials in the Israeli state “are brought to justice either by referring the entire situation to the ICC or by establishing an international tribunal to try alleged perpetrators”.

It adds that the “Security Council must also impose targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid, and a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel.”

Titled Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity, the report begins by quoting former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who now heads the opposition and stated in 2019 that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… [but rather] the nation-state of the Jewish people and only them”.

In the backdrop of the Great March of Return conducted by Palestinians under occupation demanding their right of return as refugees under international law, and Israel’s vicious 11-day bombing of Gaza in May last year, and the ongoing forced evictions in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, and the unprecedented international solidarity that followed, the report remarks the unity among Palestinians themselves that followed these attacks.

“On 18 May 2021, Palestinians across cities and villages in Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip closed their offices, shops, restaurants and schools, abandoned construction sites, and refused 
to report to work for the whole day. In a display of unity not seen for decades, they defied the territorial fragmentation and segregation they face in their daily lives and observed a general strike to protest their shared repression by Israel.”

It notes these protests were followed by further Israeli attacks on unarmed civilians, including the use of concussion grenades on worshippers and protestors inside Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque.

These actions are “different manifestations of an overall system of oppression and domination by Israel. This system, which operates with varying levels of intensity and repression based on Palestinians’ status in the separate enclaves where Palestinians live today, and violates their rights in different ways, ultimately seeks to establish and maintain Jewish hegemony wherever Israel exercises effective control.”

The report makes the case for apartheid by noting the “racialized” status of Palestinians in Israeli policy and law, which segregate Palestinians as a whole despite many internal differences of ethnicity and faith – pitting them conversely against the “Jewish hegemony” unembarrassedly upheld by the Israeli state.

“Palestinians have been calling for an understanding of Israel’s rule as apartheid for over two decades
, and have been at the forefront of advocacy in that regard at the UN. 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.

“Yet states, particularly Israel’s Western allies, have been reluctant to heed these calls, and have refused to take any meaningful action against Israel.”

The report relies on research conducted between July 2017 and November 2021, including state documents and interviews with officials in Israel, occupied Palestine, and with Israeli and international NGOs, UN agencies, lawyers, scholars, journalists and “external experts” on international law.

It concludes that “the patterns of proscribed acts perpetuated by Israel both inside Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories form part of a systematic as well as widespread attack directed against the Palestinian population, and that the inhuman or inhumane acts committed within the context of this attack have been committed with the intention to maintain this system, and amount to the crime against humanity of apartheid under both the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute.”

A summary of arguments and a response from the Palestine Ministry of Foreign Affairs are given below.

The report begins by defining apartheid in international law.

“Three main international treaties prohibit and/or explicitly criminalize apartheid: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (Apartheid Convention) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute).

“The crime against humanity of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention, the Rome Statute and customary international law is committed when any inhuman or inhumane act (essentially a serious human rights violation) is perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system. A regime of oppression and domination can best be understood as the systematic, prolonged and cruel discriminatory treatment by one racial group of members of another with the intention to control the second racial group.

“Thus, the crime against humanity of apartheid is committed when serious human rights violations are committed in the context, and with the specific intent, of maintaining a regime or system of prolonged and cruel discriminatory control of one or more racial groups by another.”

Intent to Oppress and Dominate

“Palestinians are treated by the Israeli state differently based on its consideration of them as having a racialized non-Jewish, Arab status and, beyond that, as being part of a group with particular attributes that is different from other non-Jewish groups. With respect to Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Israeli Ministry
 of Foreign Affairs officially classifies them as “Arab citizens of Israel”, an inclusive term that describes a number of different and primarily Arabic-speaking groups, including Muslim Arabs (this classification includes Bedouins), Christian Arabs, Druze and Circassians.”

Territorial Fragmentation and Legal Segregation

“In the course of establishing Israel as a Jewish state in 1948, its leaders were responsible for the mass expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages in what amounted to ethnic cleansing. They chose to coerce Palestinians into enclaves within the State of Israel and, following their military occupation in 1967, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“They have appropriated the vast majority of Palestinians’ land and natural resources. They have introduced laws, policies and practices that systematically and cruelly discriminate against Palestinians, leaving them fragmented geographically and politically, in a constant state of fear and insecurity, and often impoverished.

“Palestinians in the OPT living under these separate jurisdictions require permits from the Israeli authorities to cross between them – from and to the Gaza Strip, annexed East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank – and are also separated from Palestinian citizens of Israel, both geographically and on the basis of their status.

“Meanwhile, Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1947-49 and 1967 conflicts continue to be physically isolated from those residing in Israel and the OPT through Israel’s continuous denial of their right to return to their homes, towns and villages.

“Palestinian citizens of Israel are subject to Israeli civil laws, which in general afford them greater freedoms and human rights protections than Palestinians living in the OPT, but nonetheless deny them equal rights with Jewish Israelis (including to political participation) and institutionalize discrimination against them.

“While Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem also live under Israeli civil laws, they are granted permanent residence rather than citizenship. On the other hand, Palestinians in the rest of the West Bank remain subject to Israel’s military rule and draconian military orders adopted since 1967.”

Legal Segregation and Control

“The very existence of these separate legal regimes… is one of the main tools through which Israel fragments Palestinians and enforces its system of oppression and domination, and serves, as noted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), ‘to obscure [the Israeli apartheid] regime’s very existence’.

“Indeed, Israeli policies aim to fragment Palestinians into different geographic and legal domains of control not only to treat them differently, or to segregate them, from the Jewish population, but also to treat them differently from each other in order to weaken ties between Palestinian communities, to suppress any form of sustained dissent against the system they have created, and ensure more effective political and security control over land and people across all territories.”

Use of Military Rule to Control and Dispossess

The report argues that military orders have been applied over different groups of Palestinians almost continuously since 1948, with one purpose: “to advance Jewish settlement in areas of strategic importance and to dispossess Palestinians of their land and property under the guise of maintaining security.”

“Despite the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, more than 1,800 Israeli military orders continue to control and restrict all aspects of the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank: their livelihoods, status, movement, political activism, detention and prosecution, and access to natural resources.

“Israeli military legislation in the West Bank is enforced by the military justice system. Since 1967, the Israeli authorities have arrested over 800,000 Palestinian men, women and children in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, bringing many of them before military courts that systematically fail to meet international standards of fair trial, and where the vast majority of cases end in conviction.

“Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were subjected to Israeli military legislation and tried before military courts until Israel dismantled its settlements in 2005. Since then, elements of Israeli military law have continued to apply to the area with regards to the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, access to territorial waters and the ‘buffer zone’ along the fence separating Israel from Gaza.

“By contrast, Jewish settlers have been exempted from the military orders governing Palestinians since the late 1970s after Israel extraterritorially extended its civil law over Israeli citizens residing in or travelling through the OPT. Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank are therefore brought before Israeli civilian courts.”

Denial of Nationality, Residence and Family Life

“Whilst they are granted citizenship, Palestinian citizens of Israel are denied a nationality, establishing a legal differentiation from Jewish Israelis. They are also denied certain benefits because of a linked exemption from military service.

“Meanwhile, Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are not Israeli citizens. Instead, they are granted fragile permanent residency status that allows them to reside and work in the city, and enjoy social benefits provided by the Israeli National Insurance Institute and the national health insurance.

“Under discriminatory legislation and policies, however, the Israeli authorities have revoked the status of thousands of Palestinians, including retroactively, if they cannot prove that Jerusalem is their “centre of life”. This has had devastating consequences on their human rights.

“By contrast, Jewish Israeli settlers residing in East Jerusalem enjoy Israeli citizenship and are exempt from laws and measures enacted against Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.

“At the same time, Israel has controlled the population registry in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967 and imposed policies, restrictions and measures to control the demography of the territory. Palestinians in these territories remain without citizenship and are considered stateless, except for those who have obtained citizenship from a third country.

“At the same time, thousands of Palestinians remain undocumented in Gaza as the Israeli authorities have refused to regularize their status since 2008.

“These policies have serious consequences on the ability of Palestinians in the OPT to lead a normal life, particularly in light of stringent restrictions on movement: those in the West Bank who are not registered face the imminent threat of deportation, are unable to access healthcare, education and social benefits, open a bank account and have legal jobs, and are effectively prisoners in their homes because of fear of ID checks at Israeli checkpoints.

“Undocumented Palestinians in Gaza are also denied their freedom of movement, 
and access to healthcare and education in other parts of the OPT and abroad. Overall, restrictions on family unification interfere with Palestinians’ enjoyment of their rights to privacy, to family life and to marry, blocking them from conferring residency status to their spouses and children.”

Disruption of Family Life

“In addition to measures that separate families inside the OPT, Israel has enacted discriminatory laws 
and policies that disrupt family life for Palestinians across the Green Line [1967 border] in a clear example of how
 Israel fragments and segregates Palestinians through one system of domination.

“Like other measures Amnesty International has documented, they are primarily guided by demographic – rather than security – considerations and aim to minimize Palestinian presence inside the Green Line to maintain a Jewish majority.

“Since 2002, Israel has adopted a policy of prohibiting Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza from gaining status in Israel or East Jerusalem through marriage, thus preventing family unification.

“The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law enshrined the policy in law between 2003 and its expiry in July 2021. The law barred thousands of Palestinians in Israel and East Jerusalem from living there with their Palestinian spouses from the West Bank and Gaza. Israel’s then interior minister stated the law was needed because ‘it was felt that [family unification] would be exploited to achieve a creeping right of return…’”

“When the Israeli government lost the vote to extend the law in July 2021, it signalled its intent to nonetheless maintain the policy. The interior minister issued instructions not to accept applications from Palestinians for family unification until new or similar legislation is put in place. Israeli authorities say the policy is necessary on ‘security grounds’, but it is implemented in a blanket manner without specific evidence against individuals.

“By contrast, the 2003 law explicitly did not apply to residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank wanting to marry and live with their spouse inside Israel, making it, and the ongoing policy underpinning it, blatantly discriminatory.”

Restrictions On Movement

“Israel controls all entry and exit points in the West Bank and controls all travel between the West Bank and abroad. Israel also controls all movement of people into and out of the Gaza Strip to the rest of the OPT and Israel through the Erez Crossing, the passenger crossing from Gaza to Israel. (The Egyptian authorities also maintain tight Egyptian restrictions on the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.)

“With the exception of East Jerusalemites, who have a permanent residency status in Israel, Palestinians from the OPT cannot travel abroad via Israeli airports unless they obtain a special permit, which is issued only to senior businesspeople and in exceptional humanitarian cases.

“Israeli military and security forces can ban West Bank Palestinians from travelling abroad, often on the basis of ‘secret information’ that Palestinians cannot review and therefore challenge. These bans have affected human rights defenders and activists who travel abroad to advocate for Palestinians’ rights.

“For Palestinians in Gaza, travel abroad is nearly impossible under Israel’s illegal blockade and tight Egyptian restrictions maintained on the Rafah crossing. 

“Israel imposed a comprehensive closure system on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank following the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, which remains in effect in various forms. This closure system includes a web of hundreds of Israeli military checkpoints, earth mounds and road gates, in addition to blocked roads, and the winding fence/wall.

“The 700km fence/wall, which Israel continues building mostly illegally on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank, has isolated 38 Palestinian localities in the West Bank comprising 9.4% of the area
of the West Bank, and has trapped them in enclaves known as “seam zones”, forcing residents to obtain special permits for entry and exit to their homes and acquire separate permits to access their agricultural land.”

Restrictions on Right to Political Participation

“While Israeli laws and policies define the state as democratic, the fragmentation of the Palestinian people ensures that Israel’s version of democracy overwhelmingly privileges political participation by Jewish Israelis. In addition, the representation of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the decision-making process, primarily in the Knesset, has been restricted and undermined by an array of Israeli laws and policies.

“Most importantly, Israel’s constitutional law prevents Israeli citizens from challenging the definition of Israel as a Jewish state and in effect any laws that establish such an identity. While Palestinian citizens of Israel can vote and run in national elections, in practice their right to political participation is limited, and they continue to be perceived as the ‘enemy from within’.

“Limitations on the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to participate in elections are accompanied by other infringements of their civil and political rights that limit the extent to which they can participate in the political and social life of Israel. This has included racialized policing of protests, mass arbitrary arrests and the use of unlawful force against protesters during demonstrations against Israeli repression both in Israel and the OPT.

“Israeli authorities have since 1967 outlawed more than 400 Palestinian organizations, including all major political parties and several prominent civil society organizations widely recognized for the provision of vital services such as legal aid and medical care as well as the quality of their human rights reporting and advocacy, most recently in October 2021.

“Palestinians in East Jerusalem, on the other hand, are neither able to participate in political life in Israel nor in the West Bank. Although they can vote, and run, in municipal elections in Jerusalem, they have traditionally boycotted them in protest at Israel’s ongoing occupation and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, and they remain excluded from national elections.”

Dispossession of Land and Property

“In 1948, Jewish individuals and institutions owned around 6.5% of mandate Palestine, while Palestinians owned about 90% of the privately owned land there. Within just over 70 years the situation has been reversed.

“Since its creation the Israeli state has enforced massive and cruel land seizures to dispossess and exclude Palestinians from their land and homes. Although Palestinians in Israel and the OPT are subjected to different legal and administrative regimes, Israel has used similar land expropriation measures across
 all territorial domains under the Judaization policy, which seeks to maximize Jewish control over land while effectively restricting Palestinians to living in separate, densely populated enclaves to minimize their presence.

“The land regime established soon after Israel’s creation, which was never dismantled, remains a crucial aspect of the system of oppression and domination against Palestinians. It consisted of legislation, reinterpretation of existing British and Ottoman laws, governmental and semi-governmental land institutions, and a supportive judiciary that enabled the acquisition of Palestinian land and its discriminatory reallocation across all territories under its control.

“The effects continue to severely impact Palestinians. They are still prohibited from accessing 
and using land and property that belonged to them or their families in 1948. The dispossession has also contributed to the isolation and exclusion of Palestinian citizens from Israeli society, marking them as a group with perpetual lesser rights and with no right to claim access to lands and properties that have been in their families for generations.”

“The destruction of the Palestinian village of Iqrit near Acre in northern Israel is a clear example of the cruel application of this policy. In 1948 the Israeli army instructed about 600 residents of Iqrit to leave their homes ‘temporarily’. They were never allowed to return. The residents petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel to be granted their right of return, and won. However, the Israeli Ministry of Defense refused to implement the decision, fearing it would create a precedent for the return of other Palestinians forced out of their villages. So, in 1951, the ministry destroyed the village except for the church and cemetery. The Palestinian community of Iqrit now comprises around 1,500 individuals who mostly live 20km away in Al- Rameh. They continue to fight for their right to return to their homes and land in Iqrit.”

“In addition to the Israeli state’s allocation of confiscated Palestinian land for advancing Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, Jewish settler organizations such as Ateret Cohanim and Elad have relied on the 1950 Absentees’ Property Law and the 1970 Legal and Administrative Matters Law to devise a legal scheme to file eviction cases against Palestinians and dispossess them of their properties, allow Jewish settlers to settle in predominantly Palestinian neighbourhoods, and further the expansion of Jewish settlements.

“In the first decade of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Israeli authorities proceeded to confiscate privately owned Palestinian land mainly through requisition orders for alleged military needs, in addition to expropriation orders, absentee property orders and military orders declaring specific areas as “closed military zones”. These measures were legitimized by the Supreme Court of Israel, which ultimately rendered the question of the legality of the settlements non-justiciable.

“In addition to laws, Israel has used a selective registration of ownership rights, a discriminatory allocation of expropriated Palestinian land for Jewish settlement and a discriminatory urban planning and zoning regime to forcibly transfer Palestinians from their land and properties. The result has been the deliberate impoverishment of the Palestinian population both within Israel and in the OPT.

“In parallel, the Israeli government enabled Jewish localities and settlements to use the expropriated lands. In Israel and East Jerusalem, it transferred from the state to Jewish national organizations and institutions, many of which serve Jews only, while the legal title of the land remained in the state’s name. In the rest of the OPT, the Israeli government adopted policies that allowed the allocation of state land almost exclusively to Israeli state institutions and organizations, state and private companies, for the benefit of Jewish Israeli settlers.

“State land in Israel is largely used to develop Jewish towns and localities; Palestinian citizens of Israel are effectively blocked from leasing land on 80% of state land. Jewish national bodies generally do not lease land to non-Jews and do not accept them in the housing projects and/or communities they establish on state lands that have been developed specifically for new Jewish immigrants.

“Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are meant to be permanent places of residence or economic activity for Jewish Israelis and are built solely to serve their needs. The Israeli authorities provide subsidies, tax incentives and low-cost utilities and resources to encourage Jewish Israelis to live in these places and to support the settlement economy.

“While Israel no longer seizes houses and land from Palestinians in Gaza, it uses unlawful lethal force to control and restrict Palestinians’ movement in the ‘buffer zone’ separating the territory from Israel and a similarly access-restricted maritime area off Gaza’s coast. According to human rights organizations the ‘buffer zone’ extends to… roughly 17% of the total area of the Gaza Strip. It covers over 35% of the agricultural land in Gaza. Meanwhile, the access-restricted maritime area covers 85% of its fishing waters.”

Suppression of Palestinians’ Human Development

“The denial of essential services is inherently linked to discriminatory planning and zoning policies, and is intended to create unbearable living conditions to force Palestinians to leave their homes to allow for the expansion of Jewish settlement.

“In addition, Israeli policies of exclusion, segregation and severe restrictions on movement in the entirety of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip mean that Palestinians face difficulties accessing healthcare, including life-saving treatment, and education even though Israel bears the responsibility under international law to provide such services not just to its own population but also to Palestinians living under its military occupation.

“Socio-economic gaps between Palestinian and Jewish Israeli citizens are the result of discriminatory policies pursued over decades. Historically, Israel prevented its Palestinian citizens from accessing livelihoods under its 18-year-long military rule, and used them, at different times, as a source of cheap labour in order to preserve the interests of the Jewish majority.

“As a result, Palestinian communities in Israel lack the infrastructure required for economic development, forcing their population to seek employment in the Jewish sector, where they face institutional discrimination when competing for jobs. They also experience discrimination in the allocation of public resources, most of which are distributed to Jewish localities.

“According to a 2018 survey by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, monthly public expenditure on education and culture in the Jewish sector was nearly three times more per capita than in the (predominantly Palestinian) Arab sector.

“Across the OPT, Israel’s policies of territorial fragmentation and segregation pursued in the context of 
a prolonged military occupation have had a devastating effect on the performance of the Palestinian economy, leaving it disconnected, weak and subordinate to Israel’s geo-demographic goals, and unable to achieve sustainable and equitable development for the Palestinian population.

“According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), between 1993 and 2013, the Palestinian economy in East Jerusalem shrunk by approximately 50%, while the fence/wall caused over USD 1 billion of direct losses to Palestinians in East Jerusalem in the first 10 years since the start of its construction.

“Elsewhere in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Israeli-imposed movement restrictions cost Palestinians 60 million lost work hours per year (equivalent to USD 274 million).

“According to UNCTAD, between 2007 and 2018, due to the Israeli blockade, Gaza’s share of the Palestinian economy decreased from 31% to 18%. As a result, more than 1 million people were pushed below the poverty line, with the rate of poverty increasing from 40% in 2007 to 56% in 2017.

“Ever since the discovery of oil and gas off Gaza’s coast, Israel has repeatedly changed the demarcation of Gaza’s maritime coast, sometimes reducing it to just 3 nautical miles. The lack of access to sufficient fishing waters affects an estimated 65,000 Gazans, and has impoverished nearly 90% of fishermen. Additionally, the Israeli navy uses lethal force against Gazan fishermen working off the coast, and sinks and seizes their boats.”

“Israel’s control of water resources and water-related infrastructure in the OPT results in striking inequalities between Palestinians and Jewish settlers. The Israeli authorities restrict Palestinians’ access to water in the West Bank through military orders, which prevent them from building any new water installation without first obtaining a permit from the Israeli army.

“Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, the coastal aquifer has been depleted by Israeli over-extraction and contaminated by sewage and seawater infiltration, resulting in more than 95% of its water being unfit for human consumption.

“As a result of these policies, average Palestinian consumption of water in the OPT is about 70 litres a day per person, with approximately 420,000 people in the West Bank consuming 50 litres a day, less than a quarter of the average Israeli consumption of about 300 litres per person. For Israeli settlers residing in Israeli settlements, the average daily water consumption is 369 litres, about six times the amount consumed by Palestinians.”

A System of Apartheid

“Although Israel’s system of apartheid manifests itself in different ways in the various areas under its effective control, it consistently has the same purpose of oppressing and dominating Palestinians for the benefit of Jewish Israelis, who are privileged under Israeli civil law regardless of where they reside.

“It is designed to maintain an overwhelming Jewish majority with access to and benefiting from the maximum amount of territory and land acquired or controlled, while restricting the right of Palestinians to challenge the dispossession of their land and property.

“This system has been applied wherever Israel has exercised effective control over territory and land or over the exercise of the rights of Palestinians. It is realized in law, policy and practice, and reflected in the discourse of the state from its establishment and until this day.

“In the OPT, Israel’s conduct is bound both by the rules of international humanitarian law relevant to military occupation (law of occupation) and its obligations under international human rights law. The law of occupation allows, and in some cases requires, differential treatment between nationals of the occupying power and the population of the occupied territory. However, it does not allow the occupying power to do this where the intention is to establish or maintain a regime of systematic racial oppression and domination.

“The racial discrimination against and segregation of Palestinians is the result of deliberate government policy. The regular violations of Palestinians’ rights are not accidental repetitions of offences, but part of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination.”

Crimes Against Humanity

— the crime against humanity of deportation or forcible transfer under both the Rome Statute and Apartheid Convention.

— the crimes against humanity of “imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty” and “torture” under the Rome Statute and the Apartheid Convention.

— Patterns of excessive use of force against Palestinians during law enforcement operations, information available about the Israeli military’s “rules of engagement”, as well as Israeli officials’ statements following such operations particularly during protests, reflect a planned and persistent policy of shooting to kill or maim Palestinians. They are consistent with the inhuman and inhumane acts of “murder” and “other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health” or the “infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm” under the Rome Statute and Apartheid Convention.

— By denying the Palestinian population basic human rights through years of deliberate discriminatory and exclusionary policies and official statements that are reflected in practice, Israeli authorities have committed the crime against humanity of, or other inhumane act similar to, “persecution” within the meaning of the Rome Statute and “denial of basic human rights” that “prevent the racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing [its or their] full development” under the Apartheid Convention.

— There is no security basis for the effective segregation of Palestinian citizens of Israel through discriminatory laws on planning and access to housing
… In the context of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, certain limitations on human
 rights may be permissible under international humanitarian law if conducted in good faith. However, the justification for the differential treatment cannot extend to the settlement of Jewish Israelis in the occupied territories. Nor can it extend to the murders, the targeted killings, the torture, the deportation and forcible transfers of populations that have been perpetrated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories over the years.


— the State of Israel considers and treats Palestinians as an inferior non-Jewish racial group

— calling on Israel to remove all measures of discrimination, segregation and oppression currently in place

— Israel must grant equal and full human rights to all Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

— the international community needs to urgently and drastically change its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognize the full extent of the crimes that Israel perpetrates against the Palestinian people

— The numerous UN Security Council resolutions adopted over the years have remained unimplemented with Israel facing no repercussions for actions that have violated international law apart from formulaic condemnations

— the international community has contributed to undermining the international legal order and has emboldened Israel to continue perpetrating crimes with impunity

— While ultimately change can only come from within Israel, the international community can take concrete actions to pressure Israel into dismantling its apartheid system

— The crime against humanity of apartheid entails individual international criminal responsibility, which applies to individuals, members of organizations and representatives of the state who participate in its commission. Thus, Israel itself, the Palestinian authorities, the international community and the International Criminal Court should all investigate the commission of the crime of apartheid under international law

— All states may exercise universal jurisdiction over all persons reasonably suspected of committing the crime of apartheid, while states that are party to the Apartheid Convention have an obligation to do so including to prosecute, bring to trial and punish those persons responsible for the crime. This means that states must conduct prompt, effective and impartial criminal investigations when presented with reasonable evidence that an individual within their territory or control is reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility or extradite suspects to another jurisdiction that will do so.

— On 3 March 2021, the Prosecutor announced that her office was proceeding to open an investigation into Rome Statute crimes committed in the OPT. Amnesty International is therefore calling on the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC to consider the applicability of the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current formal investigation.

— The UN Security Council must therefore ensure that perpetrators of the crime against humanity of apartheid and other crimes under international law in Israel and the OPT are brought to justice either by referring the entire situation to the ICC or by establishing an international tribunal to try alleged perpetrators.

— The UN Security Council must also 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 UN General Assembly should re-establish the Special Committee against Apartheid, which was originally established in November 1962, to focus on all situations, including Israel and the OPT, where the serious human rights violation and crime against humanity of apartheid are being committed and to bring pressure on those responsible to disestablish these systems of oppression and domination.

— Amnesty International is also reiterating its long-standing call on states to immediately suspend the direct and indirect supply, sale or transfer of all weapons, munitions and other military and security equipment, including the provision of training and other military and security assistance. Finally, it is calling on states to institute and enforce a ban on products from Israeli settlements.

— Businesses too, have a responsibility to assess their activities in Israel and the OPT and ensure that they do not contribute to or benefit from the system of apartheid, and address such impact when it occurs and cease relevant activities if it cannot be prevented.

— All governments and regional actors, particularly those that enjoy close diplomatic relations with Israel such as the USA, the European Union and its member states and the UK, but also those states that are in the process of strengthening their ties – such as some Arab and African states – must not support the system of apartheid or render aid or assistance to maintaining such a regime, and cooperate to bring an end to this unlawful situation.

On February 1 the Palestine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates issued this press release from Gaza.

“The State of Palestine welcomes the report by Amnesty International on Israel’s apartheid regime and racist policies and practices against the Palestinian people. Amnesty International joins a long list of distinguished Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations and experts in exposing Israel’s colonial occupation for what it is: an institutionalized system of oppression and domination over the Palestinian people, designed to legitimize its colonial settlement expansion, deny the Palestinian people their inalienable right to self-determination, and erase Palestinian history, present, and future in their homeland.

The report is a detailed affirmation of the cruel reality of entrenched racism, exclusion, oppression, colonialism, apartheid, and attempted erasure that the Palestinian people have endured since the Nakba. It is a reality in which the State is structured to maintain Jewish Israeli domination by ensuring the perpetual denial of the fundamental and national rights of the Palestinian people.

This abominable reality of criminality and impunity is undeniable to the international community. It is also sustained and emboldened by the willful abandonment of principled obligations under international law through inaction and documented complicity. Amnesty International’s report must compel those who have chosen appeasement and inaction to realign their actions with their stated positions and international obligations.

Allowing this wholesale and institutionalized brutalization and dehumanization of the Palestinian people to continue without consequence is a betrayal of the values and principles of universal human rights. Such a betrayal would also negatively impact the rights and lives of victims of injustice around the world. This would undermine the global fight for justice and universal application of human rights. It would be simply inexcusable.

The United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly are obliged to heed the compelling evidence presented by Amnesty and other leading human rights organizations and hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, including through sanctions. Equally and urgently, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court must investigate Israel’s crime against humanity of apartheid without delay.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian people will continue to exercise their legitimate right to oppose and resist all forms of occupation, colonization, dehumanization, racism, and apartheid until they achieve justice and realize their rights to self-determination, return, freedom, and independence.”