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Palestinians rights group says Israel implements apartheid regime of discriminatory laws, policies

Israeli troops arrest a man during clashes in the Old City of al-Quds on April 24, 2021. (File photo by Getty Images)

A prominent Palestinian rights group, which has recently been outlawed by Israel, says Tel Aviv has been progressively implementing an apartheid regime of discriminatory laws for decades.

The Al-Haq human rights organization, which monitors and documents rights violations committed by the occupying entity, released a 15-page report on Monday.

The non-governmental Ramallah-based rights group said since the Nakba Day in 1948, Israel has evidently “implemented an apartheid regime of discriminatory laws, policies and practices aimed at institutionalizing and normalizing its systematic subjugation, domination and exploitation of the Palestinian people on both sides of the Green Line, as well as Palestinian refugees and exiles abroad.”

Back on May 15, 1948, Israel forcibly evicted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland and proclaimed its existence. Palestinians mark this day as the ‘Nakba Day’ – or the ‘Day of Catastrophe.’

The so-called Green Line was the demarcation line set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between the Israeli regime and the Arab states of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. It served as the de facto borders of the occupying entity from 1949 until 1967, when the Six-Day War broke out.

“In order to maintain its apartheid system, Israel has pursued a policy of systematic persecution of Palestinian civil society organizations that confront its apartheid laws, policies and practices. Such acts of persecution have included various forms of intimidation and institutionalized harassment ranging from death threats, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, collective punishment, travel bans, residency revocation, deportation, and Government-led smear campaigns, in an effort to shrink Palestinian civil society space,” Al-Haq further said in its report.

The human rights organization is among the six rights and civil-society groups Israel recently outlawed after calling them "terrorist" organizations.

On October 19, Israel’s Minister of Military Affairs Benny Gantz said the ministry had designated the six civil society groups of Addameer, Al-Haq, Defense for Children Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Bisan Center for Research and Development, and the Union of Palestinian Women Committees as “terrorist organizations.” The military order was only made public three days later, on October 22.

The decision will authorize the regime to effectively outlaw the activities of these civil-society organizations, close their offices, seize their assets, and also arrest and jail their staff members. Furthermore, Tel Aviv will also prohibit funding or even publicly expressing support for the groups’ activities.

Israel’s move has drawn criticism from several human rights watchdogs. The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, the Arab League, and several American legislators have already denounced the decision.

“The shrinking of the Palestinian civil-society space to altogether discredit their image, efforts and initiatives, delegitimize and criminalize their actions, and cut their sources of funding, on both regional and international stages, is nothing new, but has been accelerating at a worrying pace over the last decade,” said the report.

The Israeli regime and its “affiliated entities have continued to orchestrate smear campaigns, threats and harassment measures against Palestinian organizations who promote a critical narrative, including of their own Palestinian leadership, and are involved in issues spanning from the Israeli occupation, annexation, apartheid and colonization of Palestinian lands, business and settlement activities, environmental and natural resources, political prisoners, asylum and refugees to accountability before the International Criminal Court (ICC),” the Al-Haq report said.

In July, more than 600 scholars, artists, and intellectuals from over 45 countries across the world lambasted the Israeli practices against Palestinians, calling for an immediate end to “Israel’s apartheid regime” in the occupied territories.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds. Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital. The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion. All the settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in several resolutions.

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