On February 1st, Amnesty International published a 280-page report on “Israel’s institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Palestinians,” upholding the apartheid classification. ACHRS advocates the recognition of the institutionalised system of discrimination and oppression against Palestinians as an apartheid regime and condemns the use of excessive and undue force by Israeli forces.
“Israel is not a state of all its citizens… [but rather] the nation-state of the Jewish people and only them”. This statement from March 2019 by Israel’s then prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, describes the basic concept of past Israeli authorities ́ treatment of Palestinians. Since the illegal and ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, this principle has been extended to these areas. Meanwhile, about 700.000 Israelis are living in illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory (OPT). Whether in Israel or the OPT, Palestinians are regarded as a threat to the formation of a Jewish majority. The right of self-determination for the Jewish population is anchored in Israeli law and institutions, whilst Palestinians are dislodged, disintegrated, controlled, excluded, expropriated, and deprived of their economic and social rights.
The oppression of Palestinians is evident in the weekly killings of Palestinians and the use of excessive force by Israeli forces. On Monday, February 28th Palestinians were commemorating the ascension of Prophet Mohammed to heaven, Isra’a Wal Mi’raj, at Damascus Gate to the Old City in Jerusalem. Israeli security forces shot stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets on them and physically assaulted the celebrating civilians, as a reaction to some of them throwing stones, as they said. A hearing-impaired Palestinian girl was hit by a stun grenade in her face. The 11-year-old Manwar Burqan had to be rushed to the hospital with a broken jaw and wounds in her face. At least 30 Palestinians were injured, whilst 20 got arrested.
On the following night to Tuesday, March 1st, Israeli officers and undercover police started an arrest raid at the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied northern West Bank. After they left the house of a suspect, “wanted for terrorist activity”, with him, they became entangled in fighting, in which they killed three Palestinians and wounded one. On the same Tuesday, a resident of the Al-Aroub refugee camp north of Hebron was killed by “Israeli occupation forces shooting at him near the town of Beit Fajar,” the Palestinian ministry of health said.
Although Israel ́s occupation of Palestinian territory violates international law, terrorism is no viable response to it. In this respect, counter-terrorism measures are applicable. However, this does not justify Israel ́s decision to arbitrarily designate six civil society and human rights organisations as terrorist organisations. In October 2021 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet declared “Israel’s ‘terrorism’ designation an unjustified attack on Palestinian civil society”. The Israeli Counter-Terrorism Law of 2016 stipulates jail penalties ranging from five to twenty-five years for staff and members of designated groups, as well as asset seizure and the liquidation of the organisation. It also makes providing support, such as financial help and publishing words of “praise, support, or sympathy” a crime punishable by three to five years in jail. The vague and broad definitions of a “terrorist organization”, “member of a terrorist organization”, and a “terrorist act” can cause an application of the law against a vast number of individuals and organisations, many of whom are involved in legal activity.
ACHRS condemns Israel ́s apartheid regime on Palestinians, the ongoing deprivation and violation of their rights and the excessive and undue use of force by Israeli authorities. The treatment of Palestinians as inferior citizens goes strictly against the basic principles of human rights. Although counter-terrorism action is a valid concern, its configuration may not threaten civilians to breach their basic rights. Also, the continuous occupation of Palestinian territory violates international law and must end.
Image Source: Aljazeera