The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) has released a study indicating that Israel is practicing both colonialism and apartheid in the occupied Palestinian territories. The HSRC commissioned an international team of scholars and practitioners of international public law from South Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the West Bank to conduct the study.
- Josette Canilao, Ashley Housley, Crystal Schreiner, and Ashlee Plouffe (Sonoma State University)
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The team found that Israel’s policy and practices violate the prohibition on colonialism, which the international community developed in the 1960s in response to the great decolonization struggles in Africa and Asia. Israel’s policy is demonstrably to fragment the West Bank and annex part of it permanently to Israel. Through these measures, Israel has denied the indigenous population the right to self-determination, and has indicated a clear intention to assume sovereignty over portions of its land and natural resources. The team also found that Israel’s laws and policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) fit the definition of apartheid in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Israeli law conveys privileges to Jewish settlers and disadvantages Palestinians in the same territory on the basis of their respective racial identities.
Jonathan Cook, writing for the Electronic Intifada—the nonprofit, independent news source covering issues stemming from Israel’s forty-year occupation of Palestinian territories—reported Israel’s restrictions on entry into the West Bank territory. Israel’s imposed restriction denies movement between Israel and the West Bank to people with foreign passports. This restriction affects Palestinian residents as well as humanitarian aid organizations. “The new regulation is in breach of Israel’s commitments under the Oslo accords to Western governments that their citizens would be given continued access to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Despite the breach, the US has not made any attempt to correct it. The US asserts it can do nothing about Israel’s restriction and, in fact, has raised no objections to it.
The restriction on entry for foreign passport holders deepens the isolation and separation Israel has imposed on the West Bank territory. The enforced regulation has created rifts and obstacles for Palestinians who have gone abroad, but settled in the West Bank territory. Thousands of Palestinians who have done this have been denied residency permits and are required to renew visas every three months in different regions. Palestinian resident Sam Bahour told reporters, “The latest rule change should be understood as one measure in a web of restrictions strangling normal Palestinian life that has been imposed by Israel, which controls the population registers for both Israelis and Palestinians.” Bahour further observes that this new regulation is another attempt to forward Israel’s goal to rid the territory of Palestinians.
Amnesty International has uncovered Israel’s monopoly on water in the occupied West Bank. The international human rights organization has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to adequate water access. Israel uses over 80 percent of the Mountain Aquifer, the only quality water source for populations in the West Bank. Though Israel has various other sources of water, it also uses the Mountain Aquifer and restricts access to it, leaving Palestinians to struggle with less than enough water. “Some 180,000 to 200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater. In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.” Many Palestinians suffer from lack of water access, subsequently adjusting their life to just subsist. Water restrictions imposed by Israel have affected Palestinian farmers, and the general way of life. “Restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in the OPT further compound the difficulties Palestinians face when trying to carry out water and sanitation projects, or even just to distribute small quantities of water.” Amnesty International has termed Israel’s water restrictions in the West Bank as “discriminatory policies” that deny basic human rights to Palestinians.
The Guardian has covered violence on Palestinians while they nonviolently protest Israeli occupation. Palestinian marchers devoted to nonviolent protest have fallen under abuse by the Israeli military, who claim the protesters created a “violent and illegal riot.” In an attempt to act on their concerns of occupation, Palestinians marched toward the West Bank barrier to display their opposition. On April 17, a Palestinian caught in the danger, Basem Abu Rahmeh, was a victim of the military violence and died by a tear gas canister to the chest. Another vicitim, American demonstrator Tristan Anderson, lost sight in his right eye and incurred debilitating brain damage when a tear gas canister hit him in the head. “The Bil`in [village in West Bank] demonstration was always intended to be nonviolent, although on Friday, as is often the case, there were half a dozen younger, angrier men lobbing stones at the soldiers with slingshots. The Israeli military, for its part, fires tear gas, stun grenades, rubber-coated bullets and sometimes live ammunition at the crowd.”
According to the Electronic Intifada, Harvard University fellow Martin Kramer, who is also a member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), called for the West to stop providing pro-natal subsidies to Palestine, in order to curb the births of Palestinians. Kramer’s argument was that too many children lead to too many “superfluous young men” who then will become violent radicals. His views symbolize a genocidal measure. “The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, created in the wake of the Nazi holocaust, defines genocide to include measures ‘intended to prevent births within’ a specific ‘national, ethnic, racial or religious group.’” Kramer’s view reflects a long-standing Israeli and Zionistic concern about the so-called “demographic threat” to Israel, as the Palestinians are soon to outnumber Jews in Israel and Palestine.
Virginia Tilley, Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa, “Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid,” HSRC Web site, May 2009, http://www.hsrc.ac.za/Media_Release-378.phtml.
Jonathan Cook, “Israel Brings Gaza Entry Restrictions to West Bank,” Electronic Intifada, August 18, 2009, http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10718.shtml.
Amnesty International, “Israel Rations Palestinians to Trickle of Water,” October 27, 2009, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/israel-rations-palestinians-trickle-water-20091027.
Rory McCarthy, “Non-Violent Protests Against West Bank Barrier Turn Increasingly Dangerous,” Guardian, April 27, 2009, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/27/israel-security-barrier-protests.
Electronic Intifada, “Harvard Fellow Calls for Genocidal Measures to Curb Palestinian Births,” February 22, 2010, http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11091.shtml.
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