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May 3, 2021

HRW report

Editorial

 
May 3, 2021

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has in its latest report called out for pursuing policies of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians as well as against the Arab population living in Israel. This report has just confirmed what most independent observers of Israel and Palestine already know and have been saying for many years. The HRW has also said that Israel’s crimes in Palestine amount to crimes against humanity. The Arabs living in Israel have already been converted into a minority group deprived of most of their fundamental rights as victims of Israeli atrocities. The over 200-page report has not clearly compared specific acts and policies of the state of Israel with those of apartheid-era South Africa but it does say that it sees elements of apartheid-like situation in the occupied territories.

This comes in the wake of the International Criminal Court initiating an investigation of war crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Though the ICC has mentioned both the Israeli army and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas as possible perpetrators, for any fair human rights defender Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians could fill reams of paper. A significant concern of the HRW, the ICC and other observers and watchdogs has been Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement and seizure of Palestinian-owned land for Jewish settlements in territory occupied in the 1967 Middle East war. These and other acts of violence are tantamount to crimes of apartheid and persecution. Over the past many decades, Israeli authorities have sought to maintain domination over Palestinians by exercising complete control of demographics in both Israel and Palestinian territories. This Israel does by forcibly occupying Palestinian land and using it for the benefit of settling Jewish Israelis. The HRW report quotes the 1973 Apartheid Convention and the 1998 Rome Statute under which such crimes fall.

Now it is up to the world community to intervene in a positive way to protect the lives and properties of Palestinians who have been at the mercy of the Israeli state and its machinery of terror. Just like it happened against the erstwhile apartheid regime in South Africa, multinational companies and organizations must act together to prevent the execution of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine, as highlighted by the HRW report. However, it is a pity that even Arab and other Muslim countries are not unanimous in developing a joint strategy against Israel.