The Human Rights Watch on Tuesday put out its most comprehensive report on the way Israel treats the people of Palestine, accusing Tel Avive of committing “crimes against humanity” without fearing backlash from the U.S. or the international community.
Titled “A Threshold Crossed,” the 213-page report for the first time officially accuses the government of Israel of “apartheid and persecution” according to the definitions put forth by international conventions as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The damning report goes on to condemns Israel’s structural oppression to “maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians” in both the occupied territories as well as the Palestinian territories, where both groups are almost similar in size.
The HRW concluded that an effective way towards punishing and ultimately stopping such practices by the Israeli military and political authorities perpetuating them would be an international regime of inquiries and sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes.
Infuriated by the report, Israel’s Foreign Ministry called the report a “propaganda pamphlet,” that has “no connection to facts or reality on the ground” and only shows what it called the HRW’s longtime bias against Israel.
Omar Shakir, the report’s chief author, said while immediate action is just too much too expect from the international community at this stage, he expects other countries to at least confirm HRW’s findings by recognizing “the crime.”
“The international community’s approach has been misguided,” he told NPR. “There is a need for a reorientation to the reality of systematic oppression of Palestinians wherever they live.”
Israel deported Shakir, a U.S. citizen, in 2019, citing a law that bans foreigners who publicly advocate boycotts and sanctions against it.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said HRW did not share the report in advance with Israeli officials.
The rights organization, however, rejected the claim and said it had sought answers from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year and sent him a summary a week ahead of publishing the report but received no reply.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, called the report “a powerful testament to the struggle of the people of Palestine under Israel’s belligerent military occupation and its colonial and oppressive policies.”
Israeli advocates of Palestinian rights welcomed the report and embraced the apartheid charges, calling for international action.