Two ex-Israeli soldiers sue colleague over Gaza crimes

Former Israeli soldier testifies about crimes committed during 2014 Gaza war

Two former Israeli soldiers filed a defamation lawsuit against a colleague for revealing crimes all three committed during the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in 2014.

Israeli Channel 7 said the soldiers sued their former colleague Yaron Zeev for telling the NGO Breaking the Silence about the crimes and are demanding compensation of 2.6 million shekels ($790,000).

The two accuse Zeev of giving “false testimony” to the organization.

Breaking the Silence is an Israeli NGO established by veteran Israeli soldiers that gives former soldiers a platform to confidentially recount their experiences in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The lawsuit says Zeev’s testimony was used by “international investigators and included serious reports against the [Israeli] army distributed at the United Nations and in dozens of countries around the world.”

According to the channel, this is the first time that the Israeli public prosecution revealed the soldier’s name concealed by Breaking the Silence.

In 2015, the group revealed testimonies of soldiers who took part in the 2014 invasion of Gaza, who recounted orders given to military tanks to bomb randomly as long as there was no “visible danger.”

“When you look at the full picture, it is something that we have been doing all the time. We were shooting deliberately all day,” Zeev said in his testimony.

Over 2,322 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed – and some 11,000 injured – in the 51-day Israeli offensive in 2014.

(Source / 24.01.2021)

Israeli settlers attack, wound Palestinian child

The child sustained injuries while in his father’s car, and when he was evacuated from the car, the settlers attacked him with sticks

Israeli Occupation Jewish settlers attacked with stones and sticks on Thursday three-year-old Palestinian child, causing him several bruises in his face.

The child was identified as Jad Sawafta, from the village of Burqa located near the occupied West Bank major city of Ramallah.

Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli occupation Jewish settlers threw stones at the car of Alaa Sawafta, who was driving from Ramallah to the city of Tubas, smashing the windshield, the front door and back door glass.

Jad sustained injuries while in the car, but when he was evacuated from his father’s car, the settlers attacked him with sticks.

Palestinian medical sources said he is suffering light wounds in his face and he is now in stable conditions.

(Source / 23.01.2021)

Palestinian children describe how they were arrested by Israeli soldiers at night

A S, 17 years, said: “I was arrested from my home at around 4am. I was up studying and I heard loud banging at our front door. My father opened the door and about 15 Israeli soldiers entered our home”

Each year Israeli occupation soldiers conduct about 3,200 search and arrest operations in occupied Palestinian West Bank. Approximately 2,800 of these operations, where tens of children are being arrested, occur at night.

Israel justifies this practice on the basis that the territory is subject to military rule (temporarily since 1967) as permitted under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Somewhat inconsistently Israel does not enforce military law on Israelis living in the same area in settlements built in violation of the Convention.

The level of fear, intimidation and trauma induced by these operations on the Palestinian civilian population should not be underestimated.

Here are descriptions of a number of Palestinian children, who were arrested at night during 2020, for their arrests which happened at night.

R K, 15 years, said: “At around 3:30am, I was woken up by torch light shining in my face. I opened my eyes and saw about 10 Israeli soldiers in my bedroom. The commander asked me for my name then told me to get up and put some clothes on because I was to be arrested. He did not give a reason for the arrest and did not give my parents any documents.”

A S, 17 years, said: “I was arrested from my home at around 4am. I was up studying and I heard loud banging at our front door. My father opened the door and about 15 Israeli soldiers entered our home.

“My younger sister, who is 13 years old, was terrified and started to cry. They asked for our identity cards and then searched the house and took all the clothes out of the wardrobes. They did not tell us what they were looking for.”

M H, 17 years, said: “I woke up at around 2am to the sound of loud banging at our front door. I opened the door and six Israeli soldiers entered our home. I could see many more soldiers were outside.

“A soldier asked to check our identity cards and then the commander told me I was under arrest. He did not give me any documents or tell me why I was being arrested. He told me to get dressed and then I was taken away.”

A D, 15 years, said: “A day before my arrest the military commander in charge of our refugee camp phoned my father. He said I was involved ‘in stuff’ and if my father did not control me, he would shoot me.

“The following morning, at around 4am, I woke up to banging and explosions. My father opened the door and about 10 soldiers entered. I was still in bed when soldiers entered my bedroom. The soldiers searched our home and broke some furniture.”

(Source / 21.01.2021)

UK Labour hires former Israeli spy from Unit 8200

Operatives from Unit 8200 used sexual preferences to blackmail Palestinians into becoming collaborators with the Israeli occupation authorities

Britain’s Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer hired a former Israel spy to work in his social media team, The Electronic Intifada has revealed.

Assaf Kaplan was hired as a “social media listener”, and worked formerly for the infamous 8200 cyber unit of the Israeli intelligence services. In a profile of Kaplan on an ex-employer’s website, he is described as a “Unit 8200 veteran”.

Unit 8200 specialises in cyber intelligence, and is known for its role in blackmailing and assassinating Palestinians, as revealed in a shocking Guardian report in 2014.

Another former Unit 8200 officer revealed anonymously the extent of the activities undertaken by the unit, some of which resulted in the killing of an innocent child in the Gaza Strip.

Operatives also used sexual preferences to blackmail Palestinians into becoming collaborators with the Israeli occupation authorities.

“Once when I was the unit representative, there was someone suspicious next to a weapons warehouse in Gaza and we thought he was our target,” explained the anonymous source.

“It had taken us a long time to find him. Judging by his location, the time and similar data, we concluded it was him. After we assassinated him it turned out that he was a kid… I remember an image on the screen of him in an orchard, and the explosion on the screen, the smoke clearing and his mother running to him, at which point we could see he was a child. The body was small. We realised we had screwed up.”

Another pointed out that “any Palestinian” may be targeted and may suffer from sanctions such as the denial of permits, harassment, extortion or even direct physical injury. “Such instances might occur if the individual is of any interest to the system for any reason.

Be it indirect relations with hostile individuals, physical proximity to intelligence targets, or connections to topics that interest 8200 as a technological unit.”

Any information that might enable “extortion” of an individual is considered relevant information by the 8200 team. “Whether said individual is of a certain sexual orientation, cheating on his wife or in need of treatment in Israel or the West Bank, he is a target for blackmail.”

Kaplan was also involved in the latest General Election in Israel, working for Israeli Labor as deputy head of campaigns. The party suffered a catastrophic collapse in its share of the vote, and there are now rumours that it will be wiped out completely in the upcoming election in March.

Although some Twitter users have pointed out that Israeli citizens are subject to mandatory conscription into the Israeli army, the duration of national service is only two and a half years. Kaplan apparently served in Israeli intelligence for nearly five years, twice the normal conscription period.

Other Twitter users have said that Kaplan is being singled out simply because he is an Israeli citizen, and that if it was any other intelligence service there wouldn’t be any problem.

(Source / 20.01.2021)

Palestinians injured during Israeli bombing of Gaza

This came 24 hours after a series of airstrikes carried by Israeli warplanes across the Gaza Strip

Tens of Palestinian people were injured on Wednesday night from Israeli occupation artillery shelling of different sites across blockaded Gaza Strip, medical and security sources said.

Medical sources said that an artillery shell fired by an Israeli tank hit a house in al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip injuring one resident who was transferred to hospital in Deir Al-Balah.

The man, according the medical sources, was injured in his leg and he is in stable condition.

According to the medical sources, more than 35 women and children were traumatised during the Israeli tank shelling and needed post-trauma treatment.

Israeli tanks also targeted locations east of Gaza City, the security sources said, as well as east of Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip, and a site east of the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli artillery also fired at least one shell towards a site northwest of the town of Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, destroying it and setting it on fire.

The strike caused damage to some homes near the targeted sites.

Israeli warplanes carried out several airstrikes in Rafah and Khan Younis governorates in the south of the Gaza Strip without causing any casualties.

(Source / 20.01.2021)

Israel settlers call for demolition of Dome of the Rock, official says

The official pointed out that the Israeli occupation is imposing tight measures on the Palestinians under the pretext of the coronavirus, while it is facilitating the raids of the settlers

Israeli occupation authorities have taken measurements of the Dome of the Rock while Israeli settlers are calling for its demolition, Director of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar Al-Kiswani has announced.

Al-Kiswani described on Friday what had been done inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock as “a dangerous measure.”

Speaking with the local Palestinian Al-Quds Radio, Al-Kiswani explained: “We are looking seriously at the behaviour of the Israeli occupation inside Al-Aqsa Mosque. We believe it is taking the measurements for a foreign firm and we do not know what’s behind it.”

In addition, he indicated that the Israeli occupation is working to revoke the sovereignty of the Awqaf Ministry in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The official pointed out that the Israeli occupation is imposing tight measures on the Palestinians under the pretext of the coronavirus, while it is facilitating the raids of the settlers.

“Al-Aqsa Mosque is not the responsibility for the Palestinians or the Jordanians alone, but for all Muslims around the world,” according to Al-Kiswani, stressing that all the Islamic countries should have a united decision to stop the Judaisation of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

(Source / 19.01.2021)

How much longer are we going to ignore Karim Younis and other Palestinian prisoners?

Karim Younis is the world’s longest serving political prisoner ever, and this month marks his 39th year in an Israeli prison

By Yvonne Ridley

How many people have heard of Karim Younis? If his name means very little to you, that’s probably because you were a child or not even born when he was arrested by Israeli security forces. Or you have compassion fatigue.

You shouldn’t; it’s time to wake up, because Karim Younis is the world’s longest serving political prisoner ever, and this month marks his 39th year in an Israeli prison. That’s right: 39th year.

The then university student was arrested on 6 January, 1983 for doing nothing more than resisting the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine, which is the legitimate right of all Palestinians according to the 1949 Geneva Convention signed by most countries, including my own, Britain. His arrest was sudden and without warning. Younis was charged with possessing illegal weapons and smuggling them to the Palestinian army of Fatah — a banned organisation in those days — as well as the killing of an Israeli soldier.

We all have the right and duty to resist the occupation of our country: think about the heroic French Resistance in World War Two, the Dutch Resistance and the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance of Polish Jews. Such right to resistance was enshrined in international law post-war. As far as Israel and its supporters are concerned, though, the law is irrelevant in this and other cases, because the person involved is a Palestinian born in the Arab village of Ara near Nazareth. Had Younis been born anywhere else in the world he would probably never even have been arrested, let alone detained across five decades. However, the spiteful and malicious Israeli occupation authorities seem to have no limit when it comes to how they deal with the Palestinians.

Karim Younis was born on 24 December, 1956, and after finishing his high school studies he joined Ben Gurion University to study mechanical engineering. It was while he was attending a lecture on campus in the Naqab Desert that he was arrested and given a life sentence which expires after 40 years.

Along with 14 other Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and also serving long jail terms, Younis was among thirty whom Israel pledged to release as a show of goodwill and a confidence building measure. That was the deal agreed in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2013 under the watchful eye of US President Barack Obama’s administration. The agreement “guaranteed” the release of all the Palestinians arrested before the 1993 Oslo Accords.

That was the theory. Israel, though, has the same respect for the agreements it signs that it has for international laws and conventions: none whatsoever. It has ignored more UN Resolutions than any other country in the world today, even the conditions attaching to its membership of the international organisation, one of which was to allow all Palestinian refugees to return to their land. It is no surprise, therefore, to learn that the settler-colonial state reneged on the deal to release Younis and the other long-term prisoners. This basically destroyed the US-sponsored peace process.

During his time in prison, Younis has written two books: The Political Reality in Israel (1990) in which he recounts the merits and demerits of Israeli political parties; and The Ideological Struggle and Settlement (1993).

It is sad that international human rights groups do not remember the injustice of the imprisonment and continued detention of Younis and the other Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. We hear no calls for his release, which is a sad indictment of each and every one of us; the old saying “out of sight, out of mind” could not be more apt in this case.

Karim Younis is a freedom fighter, not unlike the late, great Nelson Mandela who became much revered by world leaders after he was released from prison in the dying days of apartheid South Africa. Mandela’s freedom in 1990 was obtained due to domestic and international pressure after serving 27 years in prison. Younis has already served 11 years more than Mandela as he enters his 39th year behind bars. Where’s the outcry? Where’s the television coverage and “Free Younis” concerts?

Rage about injustice should not be selective. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr. How much longer are we all going to keep quiet about Karim Younis and the other Palestinians held by Israel?

(Source / 19.01.2021)

Israeli forces conduct military drills in Jordan Valley, destroy crops

Israeli occupation settlers uprooted about 100 olive saplings in an area east of the town of Yatta

Israeli occupation forces conducted on Tuesday military training in multiple areas in northern Jordan Valley, causing significant damage to Palestinian land, local activists reported.

Aref Daraghmeh, a human rights activist, said the Israeli occupation forces conducted military training in al-Farisiya, Sahl al-Burj and al-Maleh areas, destroying agricultural crops and lands planted with wheat.

The Israeli occupation forces usually conducts drills in the occupied West Bank, especially in the Jordan Valley, after forcefully displacing dozens of local Palestinian families due to the proximity of their homes to the training sites.

Palestinians living in these areas face the danger of unexploded ordnance left behind by the Israeli occupation forces after the military drills, which have led to the death of many Palestinians, including children, over the past years.

Meanwhile, Israeli occupation settlers uprooted about 100 olive saplings in an area east of the town of Yatta located near the illegal colonial settlement of Avigal, another local activist said.

During the past seven days, Israeli occupation forces and settlers uprooted thousands of olive trees and saplings across the occupied West Bank.

(Source / 19.01.2021)

B’Tselem: Heinous killings, settler violence and home demolitions spike in occupied territories in 2020

In 2020, B’Tselem’s field researchers documented 248 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank


Over the course of 2020, Israeli security forces killed 27 Palestinians, seven of them minors: one in the Gaza Strip, 23 in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and three inside Israel.

In the West Bank, in at least 11 of the 16 incidents B’Tselem investigated, the Palestinians killed posed no threat to the lives of the forces or any other person at the time they were shot, if at all, and the forces fired at them with no justification. Several examples:

  • Ibrahim Abu Ya’qub (34) from Kifl Hares was shot in the back from a distance of about 200 meters away while he was strolling through the village, and passed away a short while later. Palestinians had hurled a Molotov cocktail at an army post at the entrance to the village, but Abu Ya’qub was not involved.
  • Iyad al-Halaq (31), a young man from Wadi al-Joz who was on the autistic spectrum, was shot by Border Police officers while fleeing from them. The officers shot him while he was lying on the ground, after a caregiver from the institute he attended daily tried to explain to them that he had a disability.
  • ‘Ali Abu ‘Alia (15) from al-Mughayir and Zeid Qaysiyah (17) from al-Fawar Refugee Camp were both killed by sniper fire from a considerable distance, while Palestinians were throwing stones at soldiers who entered their respective communities. Each of the teens was watching the clashes from afar – ‘Abu ‘Alia on the ground, about 150 meters from the soldiers, and Qaysiyah from the rooftop of his home, about 100 meters from the sniper who killed him.
  • Tareq Badwan (25), a Palestinian police officer from Jenin, was not participating in a confrontation between Palestinian youths and soldiers who had entered the city. A soldier shot him while he was standing at the entrance to a police station – as captured by the station’s security camera.
  • Bader Nafle (19) from Qaffin was shot in the neck by a soldier who was sitting in an armored jeep, after throwing stones at the jeep during a demonstration along the section of the Separation Barrier built near the village.
  • Nur Shqeir (36) from Silwan and Ahmad ‘Areiqat (26) from Abu Dis were both shot and killed by Israeli security forces manning checkpoints around Jerusalem. According to the Israel Police, Shqeir struck an officer with his car after presenting documents that were not his for inspection, fled the checkpoint and was shot by the forces after pulling over several hundred meters from the checkpoint. ‘Areiqat was shot by Border Police officers after hitting an officer with his car. He was unarmed and was shot the moment he stepped out of his car, when he no longer posed a threat.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli security forces killed one Palestinian and desecrated his body

In late 2019, the “March of Return” protests in the Gaza Strip stopped. Throughout the protests, Israeli security forces had opened live fire at unarmed demonstrators on the other side of the perimeter fence, killing more than 220.

In 2020, Israel killed one Palestinian in the Gaza Strip – Muhammad a-Na’am (27), an Islamic Jihad operative from Khan Yunis. According to the military, he and another operative had attempted to plant explosives by the perimeter fence. After a-Na’am was killed, soldiers opened fire at Palestinians who tried to remove the body, injuring two of them, and a military bulldozer desecrated the body, tossing it about as it attempted to pick it up.

Three other Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, one of them a minor (17), were killed after entering Israel. According to the military, one of them had hurled two explosive devices at soldiers.

In 2020, Palestinians killed three Israelis in three separate incidents. Shay Ohayon (39), a civilian, was killed within Israel. Esther Horgan (52), a civilian, and Amit Ben Yigal (21), a soldier, were killed in the West Bank.

For years, Israel has been implementing a reckless, unlawful open-fire policy in the West Bank. This policy is fully backed by the government, the military and the courts, in utter indifference to the predictable lethal results. To justify it, Israel makes a show of investigation – a charade intended merely to deflect criticism. The rare investigations that are launched serve to whitewash the offenses, and most are closed with no further action. Their contribution is limited to begin with, as they focus – by definition – on exceptions, leaving the rules and the policy behind them unexamined.

In the even rarer cases in which members of the security forces are indicted for killing Palestinians, the charges and the sentences they receive – if they are convicted – do not reflect the gravity of the offenses. In 2020, two soldiers who killed Palestinians in two separate incidents were convicted of breaching the open-fire regulations and of negligent homicide and sentenced to 45 and 90 days of manual military labor, respectively.

Home demolitions

Despite the pandemic and the unprecedented economic crisis, Israel has ramped up home demolitions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In 2020, more Palestinians lost their homes in this area than in every year since 2016 – which saw the most demolitions since B’Tselem began keeping record.

In total, Israel demolished 273 homes in 2020, leaving 1,006 Palestinians – 519 of them minors – homeless. By comparison, Israel demolished the homes of 677 Palestinians in 2019, 397 in 2018, and 528 in 2017.

In 2020, Israel also demolished 456 non-residential structures and infrastructure facilities. This includes humanitarian infrastructure such as water cisterns and pipes or power grids, which are essential to maintaining health and sanitation, which are particularly important at this time.

Although Israel tries to justify the broad destruction as “law enforcement,” the law has little to do with this policy. The planning system Israel itself created – run by the Civil Administration in the West Bank and the Jerusalem municipality in East Jerusalem – blocks Palestinian development and does not permit Palestinians to build homes. This system works primarily to demolish structures – instead of planning to reflect the population’s present and future needs.

Settler violence in the service of the state

In 2020, B’Tselem’s field researchers documented 248 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, including: 86 bodily assaults, in which 75 Palestinians were injured; 27 cases of stone-throwing at homes; 17 attacks on moving vehicles; 147 of the attacks were aimed at Palestinian farmers or their property, including 80 cases of damage to trees and crops owned by Palestinians, resulting in more than 3,000 trees vandalized. In 39 cases, the violent acts took place in the olive harvest season, which lasted this year from early October through late November.

Of these incidents, 72 took place in the presence of soldiers, police officers or DCO personnel, who did not intervene to stop the assault on the Palestinians or their property. In 28 cases, soldiers dispersed the Palestinian residents by firing tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets, and in at least five cases, even live fire. Israeli authorities arrested at least 12 Palestinians during these altercations.

These violent acts could not take place without the sweeping support provided by the state. While security forces back the perpetrators in real time, the law enforcement system releases them from accountability: in almost all cases, no investigation is launched, and no one is held accountable for causing harm to Palestinians. The rare investigations that are launched usually end with no further measures taken. In the even rarer instance of an indictment – the charges fall far short of reflecting the gravity of the acts, and the sentences are ludicrous.

A routine of occupation

The ongoing occupation of the West Bank is not merely a theoretical or political issue. It has constant, daily ramifications for the lives of Palestinians and entails a routine of violence – sometimes explicit, but often hidden from view. B’Tselem regularly documents this routine, and the full picture emerges from figures published by the Palestinian DCO:

Every day – and every night – soldiers enter Palestinians’ homes throughout the West Bank, disrupting the lives of families, intimidating entire households and invading their privacy. In 2020, Israeli security forces invaded Palestinian villages and towns at least 3,000 times and Palestinian homes at least 2,480 times.

The military restricts Palestinians’ freedom of movement within the West Bank as it sees fit, regardless of the disruption to daily life. Soldiers seal off roads permanently or temporarily, detain Palestinians at checkpoints, demand they follow their orders, humiliate them and sometimes resort to physical violence. In 2020, Israeli security forces set up at least 3,524 flying checkpoints in addition to the regular ones.

The military also arrests Palestinians throughout the West Bank. The forces often arrive at night, drawing residents – and their children – out of bed in the dead of night. They regularly employ verbal and physical violence and do not notify the families where the arrested person is being taken, why, and what awaits them. In 2020, Israeli security forces arrested at least 2,785 Palestinians.

(Source / 15.01.2021)

A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid

Israeli apartheid, which promotes the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians, was not born in one day or of a single speech

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem explains how the occupation state of Israel is nothing but a regime of Jewish supremacy, stressing this is apartheid.

More than 14 million people, roughly half of them Jews and the other half Palestinians, live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea under a single rule. The common perception in public, political, legal and media discourse is that two separate regimes operate side by side in this area, separated by the Green Line. One regime, inside the borders of the sovereign State of Israel, is a permanent democracy with a population of about nine million, all Israeli citizens. The other regime, in the territories Israel took over in 1967, whose final status is supposed to be determined in future negotiations, is a temporary military occupation imposed on some five million Palestinian subjects.

Over time, the distinction between the two regimes has grown divorced from reality. This state of affairs has existed for more than 50 years – twice as long as the State of Israel existed without it. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers now reside in permanent settlements east of the Green Line, living as though they were west of it. East Jerusalem has been officially annexed to Israel’s sovereign territory, and the West Bank has been annexed in practice. Most importantly, the distinction obfuscates the fact that the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. All this leads to the conclusion that these are not two parallel regimes that simply happen to uphold the same principle. There is one regime governing the entire area and the people living in it, based on a single organizing principle.

When B’Tselem was founded in 1989, we limited our mandate to the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, and refrained from addressing human rights inside the State of Israel established in 1948 or from taking a comprehensive approach to the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Yet the situation has changed. The regime’s organizing principle has gained visibility in recent years, as evidenced by the Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People passed in 2018, or open talk of formally annexing parts of the West Bank in 2020. Taken together with the facts described above, this means that what happens in the Occupied Territories can no longer be treated as separate from the reality in the entire area under Israel’s control. The terms we have used in recent years to describe the situation – such as “prolonged occupation” or a “one-state reality” – are no longer adequate. To continue effectively fighting human rights violations, it is essential to examine and define the regime that governs the entire area.

This paper analyzes how the Israeli regime works to advance its goals in the entire area under its control. We do not provide a historical review or an evaluation of the Palestinian and Jewish national movements, or of the former South Africa regime. While these are important questions, they are beyond the purview of a human rights organization. Rather, this document presents the principles that guide the regime, demonstrates how it implements them and points to the conclusion that emerges from all of this as to how the regime should be defined and what that means for human rights.

Divide, separate, rule

In the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians. A key method in pursuing this goal is engineering space differently for each group.

Jewish citizens live as though the entire area were a single space (excluding the Gaza Strip). The Green Line means next to nothing for them: whether they live west of it, within Israel’s sovereign territory, or east of it, in settlements not formally annexed to Israel, is irrelevant to their rights or status.

Where Palestinians live, on the other hand, is crucial. The Israeli regime has divided the area into several units that it defines and governs differently, according Palestinians different rights in each. This division is relevant to Palestinians only. The geographic space, which is contiguous for Jews, is a fragmented mosaic for Palestinians:

  • Palestinians who live on land defined in 1948 as Israeli sovereign territory (sometimes called Arab-Israelis) are Israeli citizens and make up 17% of the state’s citizenry. While this status affords them many rights, they do not enjoy the same rights as Jewish citizens by either law or practice – as detailed further in this paper.
  • Roughly 350,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, which consists of some 70,000 dunams [1 dunam = 1,000 square meters] that Israel annexed to its sovereign territory in 1967. They are defined as permanent residents of Israel a status that allows them to live and work in Israel without needing special permits, to receive social benefits and health insurance, and to vote in municipal elections. Yet permanent residency, unlike citizenship, may be revoked at any time, at the complete discretion of the Minister of the Interior. In certain circumstances, it can also expire.
  • Although Israel never formally annexed the West Bank, it treats the territory as its own. More than 2.6 million Palestinian subjects live in the West Bank, in dozens of disconnected enclaves, under rigid military rule and without political rights. In about 40% of the territory, Israel has transferred some civilian powers to the Palestinian Authority (PA). However, the PA is still subordinate to Israel and can only exercise its limited powers with Israel’s consent.
  • The Gaza Strip is home to about two million Palestinians, also denied political rights. In 2005, Israel withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip, dismantled the settlements it built there and abdicated any responsibility for the fate of the Palestinian population. After the Hamas takeover in 2007, Israel imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip that is still in place. Throughout all of these years, Israel has continued to control nearly every aspect of life in Gaza from outside.

Israel accords Palestinians a different package of rights in every one of these units – all of which are inferior compared to the rights afforded to Jewish citizens. The goal of Jewish supremacy is advanced differently in every unit, and the resulting forms of injustice differ: the lived experience of Palestinians in blockaded Gaza is unlike that of Palestinian subjects in the West Bank, permanent residents in East Jerusalem or Palestinian citizens within sovereign Israeli territory. Yet these are variations on the fact that all Palestinians living under Israeli rule are treated as inferior in rights and status to Jews who live in the very same area.

Detailed below are four major methods the Israeli regime uses to advance Jewish supremacy. Two are implemented similarly throughout the entire area: restricting migration by non-Jews and taking over Palestinian land to build Jewish-only communities, while relegating Palestinians to small enclaves. The other two are implemented primarily in the Occupied Territories: draconian restrictions on the movement of non-citizen Palestinians and denial of their political rights. Control over these aspects of life lies entirely in Israel’s hands: in the entire area, Israel has sole power over the population registry, land allocation, voter rolls and the right (or denial thereof) to travel within, enter or exit any part of the area.

A. Immigration – for Jews only:

Any Jew in the world and his or her children, grandchildren and spouses are entitled to immigrate to Israel at any time and receive Israeli citizenship, with all of its associated rights. They receive this status even if they choose to live in a West Bank settlement not formally annexed to Israel’s sovereign territory.

In contrast, non-Jews have no right to legal status in Israeli-controlled areas. Granting status is at the almost complete discretion of officials – the Minister of the Interior (within sovereign Israel) or the military commander (in the Occupied Territories). Despite this official distinction, the organizing principle remains the same: Palestinians living in other countries cannot immigrate to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, even if they, their parents or their grandparents were born and lived there. The only way Palestinians can immigrate to areas controlled by Israel is by marrying a Palestinian who already lives there – as citizen, resident or subject – as well as meeting a series of conditions and receiving Israeli approval..

Israel not only hampers Palestinian immigration but also impedes Palestinian relocation between the units, if the move – in the perception of the regime – would upgrade their status. For instance, Palestinian citizens of Israel or residents of East Jerusalem can easily relocate to the West Bank (although they risk their rights and status in doing so). Palestinians in the Occupied Territories cannot obtain Israeli citizenship and relocate to Israeli sovereign territory, except for in very rare instances, which depend on the approval of Israeli officials.

Israel’s policy on family unification illustrates this principle. For years, the regime has placed numerous obstacles before families in which each spouse lives in a different geographical unit. Over time, this has impeded and often prevented Palestinians marrying a Palestinian in another unit from acquiring status in that unit. As a result of this policy, tens of thousands of families have been unable to live together. When one spouse is a resident of the Gaza Strip , Israel allows the family to live there together, but if the other spouse is a resident of the West Bank, Israel demands they relocate permanently to Gaza. In 2003, the Knesset passed a Temporary Order (still in force) banning the issuance of Israeli citizenship or permanent residency to Palestinians from the Occupied Territories who marry Israelis – unlike citizens of other countries. In exceptional cases approved by the Minister of the Interior, Palestinians from the West Bank who marry Israelis may be granted status in Israel – yet it is only temporary and does not entitle them to social benefits.

Israel also undermines the right of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories – including East Jerusalem – to continue living where they were born. Since 1967, Israel has revoked the status of some 250,000 Palestinians in the West Bank (East Jerusalem included) and the Gaza Strip, in some cases on the grounds they had lived abroad for more than three years. This includes thousands of East Jerusalem residents who moved mere miles east of their homes to parts of the West Bank that are not officially annexed. All these individuals were robbed of the right to return to their homes and families, where they were born and raised.

B. Taking over land for Jews while crowding Palestinians in enclaves:

Israel practices a policy of “Judaizing” the area, based on the mindset that land is a resource meant almost exclusively to benefit the Jewish public. Land is used to develop and expand existing Jewish communities and build new ones, while Palestinians are dispossessed and corralled into small, crowded enclaves. This policy has been practiced with respect to land within sovereign Israeli territory since 1948 and applied to Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967. In 2018, the underlying principle was entrenched in Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People, which stipulates that “the State considers the development of Jewish settlements a national value and will take action to encourage and promote the establishment and reinforcment of such settlements.”

Inside its sovereign territory, Israel has enacted discriminatory laws, most notably the Absentee Property Law , allowing it to expropriate vast tracts of Palestinian-owned land, including millions of dunams in communities whose residents were expelled or fled in 1948 and were barred from returning. Israel has also significantly reduced the areas designated for Palestinian local councils and communities, which now have access to less than 3% of the country’s total area. Most of the designated land is already saturated with construction. As a result, more than 90% of land in Israel’s sovereign territory is now under state control.

Israel has used this land to build hundreds of communities for Jewish citizens – yet not a single one for Palestinian citizens. The exception is a handful of towns and villages built to concentrate the Bedouin population , which has been stripped of most of its proprietary rights. Most of the land on which Bedouins used to live has been expropriated and registered as state land. Many Bedouin communities have been defined as ‘unrecognized’ and their residents as ‘invaders.’ On land historically occupied by Bedouins, Israel has built Jewish-only communities.

The Israeli regime severely restricts construction and development in the little remaining land in Palestinian communities within its sovereign territory. It also refrains from preparing master plans that reflect the population’s needs, and keeps these communities’ areas of jurisdiction virtually unchanged despite population growth. The result is small, crowded enclaves where residents have no choice but to build without permits .

Israel has also passed a law allowing communities with admission committees, numbering hundreds throughout the country, to reject Palestinian applicants on grounds of “cultural incompatibility.” This effectively prevents Palestinian citizens from living in communities designated for Jews. Officially, any Israeli citizen can live in any of the country’s cities ; in practice, only 10% of Palestinian citizens do. Even then, they are usually relegated to separate neighborhoods due to lack of educational, religious and other services, the prohibitive cost of purchasing a home in other parts of the city, or discriminatory practices in land and home sales.

The regime has used the same organizing principle in the West Bank since 1967 (including East Jerusalem). Hundreds of thousands of dunams, including farmland and pastureland, have been taken from Palestinian subjects on various pretexts and used, among other things, to establish and expand settlements, including residential neighborhoods, farmland and industrial zones. All settlements are closed military zones that Palestinians are forbidden from entering without a permit. So far, Israel has established more than 280 settlements in the West Bank (East Jerusalem included), which are now home to more than 600,000 Jews. More land has been taken to build hundreds of kilometers of bypass roads for settlers.

Israel has instituted a separate planning system for Palestinians in the West Bank, chiefly designed to prevent construction and development. Large swathes of land are unavailable for construction, having been declared state land, a firing zone, a nature reserve or a national park. The authorities also refrain from drafting adequate master plans reflecting the present and future needs of Palestinian communities in what little land has been spared. The separate planning system centers on demolishing structures built without permits – here, too, for lack of choice. All this has trapped Palestinians in dozens of densely-populated enclaves, with development outside them – whether for residential or public use, including infrastructure – almost completely banned.

C. Restriction of Palestinians’ freedom of movement

Israel allows its Jewish and Palestinian citizens and residents to travel freely throughout the area. Exceptions are the prohibition on entering the Gaza Strip, which it defines “hostile territory,” and the (mostly formal) prohibition on entering areas ostensibly under PA responsibility (Area A). In rare cases, Palestinian citizens or residents are permitted to enter Gaza.

Israeli citizens can also leave and reenter the country at any time. In contrast, residents of East Jerusalem do not hold Israeli passports and lengthy absence can result in revocation of status.

Israel routinely restricts the movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and generally forbids them from moving between the units. Palestinians from the West Bank who wish to enter Israel, East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip must apply to the Israeli authorities. In the Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded since 2007, the entire population is imprisoned as Israel forbids almost any movement in or out – except in rare cases it defines humanitarian. Palestinians who wish to leave Gaza or Palestinians from other units who wish to enter it must also submit a special application for a permit to the Israeli authorities. The permits are issued sparingly and can only be obtained through a strict, arbitrary mechanism, or permit regime , which lacks transparency and clear rules. Israel treats every permit issued to a Palestinian as an act of grace rather than the fulfillment of a vested right.

In the West Bank, Israel controls all the routes between the Palestinian enclaves. This allows the military to set up flying checkpoints, close off access points to villages, block roads and stop passage through checkpoints at will. Furthermore, Israel built the Separation Barrier within the West Bank and designated Palestinian land, including farmland, trapped between the barrier and the Green Line as “the seam zone .” Palestinians in the West Bank are barred from entering this zone, subject to the same permit regime.

Palestinians in the Occupied Territories also need Israeli permission to go abroad. As a rule, Israel does not allow them to use Ben Gurion International Airport, which lies inside its sovereign territory. Palestinians from the West Bank must fly through Jordan’s international airport – but can only do so if Israel allows them to cross the border into Jordan. Every year, Israel denies thousands of requests to cross this border, with no explanation. Palestinians from Gaza must go through Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing – provided it is open, the Egyptian authorities let them through, and they can undertake the long journey through Egyptian territory. In rare exceptions, Israel allows Gazans to travel through its sovereign territory in an escorted shuttle, in order to reach the West Bank and from there continue to Jordan and on to their destination.

D. Denial of Palestinians’ right to political participation

Like their Jewish counterparts, Palestinian citizens of Israel can take political action to further their interests, including voting and running for office. They can elect representatives, establish parties or join existing ones. That said, Palestinian elected officials are continually vilified – a sentiment propagated by key political figures – and the right of Palestinian citizens to political participation is under constant attack .

The roughly five million Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories cannot participate in the political system that governs their lives and determines their futures. Theoretically, most Palestinians are eligible to vote in the PA elections. Yet as the PA’s powers are limited, even if elections were held regularly (the last were in 2006), the Israeli regime would still rule Palestinians’ lives, as it retains major aspects of governance in the Occupied Territories. This includes control over immigration, the population registry, planning and land policies, water, communication infrastructure, import and export, and military control over land, sea and air space.

In East Jerusalem, Palestinians are caught between a rock and a hard place. As permanent residents of Israel, they can vote in municipal elections but not for parliament. On the other hand, Israel makes it difficult for them to participate in PA elections.

Political participation encompasses more than voting or running for office. Israel also denies Palestinians political rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of association. These rights enable individuals to critique regimes, protest policies, form associations to advance their ideas and generally work to promote social and political change.

A slew of legislation, such as the boycott law and the Nakba law, has limited Israelis’ freedom to criticize policies relating to Palestinians throughout the area. Palestinians in the Occupied Territories face even harsher restrictions : they are not allowed to demonstrate; many associations have been banned; and almost any political statement is considered incitement. These restrictions are assiduously enforced by the military courts, which have imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and are a key mechanism upholding the occupation. In East Jerusalem, Israel works to prevent any social, cultural or political activity associated in any way with the PA.

The division of space also hampers a unified Palestinian struggle against Israeli policy. The variation in laws, procedures and rights among the geographical units and the draconian movement restrictions have separated the Palestinians into distinct groups. This fragmentation not only helps Israel promote Jewish supremacy, but also thwarts criticism and resistance.

No to apartheid: That is our struggle

The Israeli regime, which controls all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, seeks to advance and cement Jewish supremacy throughout the entire area. To that end, it has divided the area into several units, each with a different set of rights for Palestinians – always inferior to the rights of Jews. As part of this policy, Palestinians are denied many rights, including the right to self-determination.

This policy is advanced in several ways. Israel demographically engineers the space through laws and orders that allow any Jew in the world or their relatives to obtain Israeli citizenship, but almost completely deny Palestinians this possibility. It has physically engineered the entire area by taking over of millions of dunams of land and establishing Jewish-only communities, while driving Palestinians into small enclaves. Movement is engineered through restrictions on Palestinian subjects, and political engineering excludes millions of Palestinians from participating in the processes that determine their lives and futures while holding them under military occupation.

A regime that uses laws, practices an organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime. Israeli apartheid, which promotes the supremacy of Jews over Palestinians, was not born in one day or of a single speech. It is a process that has gradually grown more institutionalized and explicit, with mechanisms introduced over time in law and practice to promote Jewish supremacy. These accumulated measures, their pervasiveness in legislation and political practice, and the public and judicial support they receive – all form the basis for our conclusion that the bar for labeling the Israeli regime as apartheid has been met.

If this regime has developed over many years, why release this paper in 2021? What has changed? Recent years have seen a rise in the motivation and willingness of Israeli officials and institutions to enshrine Jewish supremacy in law and openly state their intentions. The enactment of Basic Law: Israel – the Nation State of the Jewish People and the declared plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank have shattered the façade Israel worked for years to maintain.

The Nation State basic law, enacted in 2018, enshrines the Jewish people’s right to self-determination to the exclusion of all others. It establishes that distinguishing Jews in Israel (and throughout the world) from non-Jews is fundamental and legitimate. Based on this distinction, the law permits institutionalized discrimination in favor of Jews in settlement, housing, land development, citizenship, language and culture. It is true that the Israeli regime largely followed these principles before. Yet Jewish supremacy has now been enshrined in basic law, making it a binding constitutional principle – unlike ordinary law or practices by authorities, which can be challenged. This signals to all state institutions that they not only can, but must, promote Jewish supremacy in the entire area under Israeli control.

Israel’s plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank also bridges the gap between the official status of the Occupied Territories, which is accompanied by empty rhetoric about negotiation of its future, and the fact that Israel actually annexed most of the West Bank long ago. Israel did not follow through on its declarations of formal annexation after July 2020, and various officials have released contradicting statements regarding the plan since. Regardless of how and when Israel advances formal annexation of one kind or another, its intention to achieve permanent control over the entire area has already been openly declared by the state’s highest officials.

The Israeli regime’s rationale, and the measures used to implement it, are reminiscent of the South African regime that sought to preserve the supremacy of white citizens, in part through partitioning the population into classes and sub-classes and ascribing different rights to each. There are, of course, differences between the regimes. For instance, the division in South Africa was based on race and skin color, while in Israel it is based on nationality and ethnicity. Segregation in South Africa was also manifested in public space, in the form of a policed, formal, public separation between people based on skin color – a degree of visibility that Israel usually avoids. Yet in public discourse and in international law, apartheid does not mean an exact copy of the former South African regime. No regime will ever be identical. ‘Apartheid’ has long been an independent term, entrenched in international conventions, referring to a regime’s organizing principle: systematically promoting the dominance of one group over another and working to cement it.

The Israeli regime does not have to declare itself an apartheid regime to be defined as such, nor is it relevant that representatives of the state broadly proclaim it a democracy. What defines apartheid is not statements but practice. While South Africa declared itself an apartheid regime in 1948, it is unreasonable to expect other states to follow suit given the historical repercussions. The response of most countries to South Africa’s apartheid is likelier to deter countries from admitting to implementing a similar regime. It is also clear that what was possible in 1948 is no longer possible today, both legally and in terms of public opinion.

As painful as it may be to look reality in the eye, it is more painful to live under a boot. The harsh reality described here may deteriorate further if new practices are introduced – with or without accompanying legislation. Nevertheless, people created this regime and people can make it worse – or work to replace it. That hope is the driving force behind this position paper. How can people fight injustice if it is unnamed? Apartheid is the organizing principle, yet recognizing this does not mean giving up. On the contrary: it is a call for change.

Fighting for a future based on human rights, liberty and justice is especially crucial now. There are various political paths to a just future here, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, but all of us must first choose to say no to apartheid.

(Source / 13.01.2021)