Apartheid is a crime against humanity which involves inhuman acts committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.
Policies and practices which uphold apartheid in Israel have been examined by many legitimate international entities such as the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, and the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, to name a few.
Apartheid operates differently in the Occupied Palestinian Territories than it does in Israel. Arab Israelis (20 percent of the Israeli population) are forced to live in separate communities, attend separate schools, and shop at separate stores as per Israeli policies and regulations.
Similar to the South African Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Palestinians who marry Israelis are denied citizenship or even the right to live with their family in Israel. Despite this, the Jewish Law of Return grants immigrant and residency rights to anyone who claims Jewish ancestry.
When the state of Israel was established in 1948, 700,000 Arabs were displaced and their villages destroyed – 80 percent of the total population was forced to leave their territory.
As of today there are 140,000 Palestinian Arabs living in “unrecognized villages” which are denied running water, electricity, connection to sewer systems, and public support for schools or health care.
Additionally, Arab Israelis face widely documented racial profiling and “administrative detentions” – a state of exception under which Israel has detained thousands of Palestinians without charge, trial, or other legal rights. Many South Africans have indicated fundamental similarities between the apartheid regime established there.
In the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), the Palestinian people face a far more intensified regime of apartheid. Israel has been building settlements in the West Bank since 1967, which have been deemed illegal by international law, as they violate many different human rights and wartime conventions.
Whereas Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank have all the privileges of Civil Law, Palestinians living in the OPT are under Military Law and thus face the constant threat of arrest and detention without charge and can be held indefinitely; Israel’s abuse of this has resulted in tens of thousands of political prisoners without legal rights.
In order to build these settlements and associated infrastructure, Israel has demolished 25,000 Palestinian homes, resulting in 160,000 internally displaced Palestinians.
Furthermore, Palestinians live in ghettoized, isolated cantons where all resources are controlled by Israeli Defence Forces and there is no physical movement without Israeli permission.
As these illegal settlements are disparately spread all across the West Bank, they are connected by Jewish-only super highways, which Palestinians are banned from traveling on. Palestinians are forced to travel by roads that are systematically patrolled by 500 military check-points which require Palestinians to carry special ID cards. South Africans were also patrolled in this way.
Under this system, traveling from downtown Peterborough to Trent University would take approximately 4 hours, and many travelers would randomly be denied passage for arbitrary reasons.
According to comments made recently by Noam Chomsky, the Gaza Strip is the “the world’s largest open air prison – where 1.5 million Palestinians live on 140-square-mile strip of land where they are subject to random terror and arbitrary punishment, with no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade.”
Borders are militarily controlled, whereby food, water, and other resource aid are only permitted entry based on reduced daily caloric estimates for the population. The siege on Gaza culminated in 2008-09, when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead where an estimated 1,400 Gazans were killed, many of whom were women and children; 13 Israelis were killed.
It can easily be seen that the way to ensure the security of the people of Israel is not to treat Arab-Israelis and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories as people who can be denied their rights, even senselessly murder en masse.
Many Israeli and Jewish groups are working actively to end Israeli Apartheid such as B’Tselem, Jewish Voice for Peace, Rabbis for Palestine, and the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions.
In order to take a stand against Israeli Apartheid, the Trent Central Student Association adopted a policy of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction against Israel at their Annual General Meeting which will remain in place until the Apartheid regime is dismantled and peaceful resolution reached.