A new report released today by Amnesty International is the latest addition to a growing body of publications that apply the term “apartheid” to the reality in Israel/Palestine – a reality Palestinians have lived and described for decades. The use of the term apartheid evokes revulsion, as it should. Contrary to claims being made by Israeli officials in response to the report, criticism of a policy of institutionalized oppression based on ethnic or national identity is not proof of antisemitism.
Gisha has worked since its founding to protect the rights of Palestinians to freedom of movement between Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and abroad, and to shed light on the dark corners of Israel’s restrictive and oppressive permit regime. We encounter daily breaches of international law by Israel, primarily of its obligation, as an occupying power, to enable normal living conditions in the Gaza Strip. Our ongoing monitoring of Israel’s policies clearly indicates that Israel repeatedly abuses its control over air, land and sea access to Gaza and over the movement of people and goods to and from the Strip, causing deliberate harm to more than two million Palestinians living there.
Gisha has shown and cautioned that one of the key tools employed by Israel to engineer demographics in the Palestinian territory, as well as inside Israel itself, is the “separation policy,” which tears families apart and undermines the fundamental rights of Palestinians. This separation is a deliberate strategy in service of Israel’s exclusionist and illegitimate demographic goals. Alongside other practices of dispossession, violence and segregation, Israel’s separation policy demonstrates the relevance of the term apartheid as a description of the reality Palestinians are forced to live. The sooner Israelis recognize their actions and the state’s actions in their name for what they are, the faster the injustice can be brought to an end, carving a path to a different reality.