UN Special Rapporteur says Israel is committing ‘pitiless’ apartheid in new report

(Shadi Jarar'ah - APA Images)

Yumna Patel

Mondoweiss  /  March 24, 2022

“With the eyes of the international community wide open, Israel has imposed upon Palestine an apartheid reality in a post-apartheid world, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Michael Lynk writes in a new report.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories Michael Lynk is the latest human rights expert to declare Israel an Apartheid state. 

In a 19-page report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday, Lynk said that the situation in the occupied Palestinian Territory (oPt) has moved beyond occupation and annexation, and now amounts to the crime of apartheid.

“The political system of entrenched rule in the occupied Palestinian territory which endows one racial-national-ethnic group with substantial rights, benefits and privileges while intentionally subjecting another group to live behind walls, checkpoints and under a permanent military rule…..satisfies the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid,” the report said. 

In his report, Lynk details how the situation in the oPt amounts to the crime of apartheid under international law, which by definition, must meet three major criteria:

  1. Institutionalized regime of systematic racial oppression
  • (e. Israeli Jews and Palestinians living in the oPt live under one single regime (Israel), but face a very different distribution of rights and benefits on the basis of national and ethnic identity “which ensures the supremacy of one group over, and to the detriment of, the other.”)
  1. The intent to maintain the domination of one racial-national-ethnic group over another
  • (e. The freedoms and privileges of Jewish Israelis is tied to the oppression of Palestinians, for example, through Jewish settlement expansion which requires the expropriation of Palestinian land and resources.)
  1. The regular practice of inhuman(e) acts
  • (e. “Arbitrary and extra-judicial killings. Torture. The violent deaths of children. The denial of fundamental human rights. A fundamentally flawed military court system and the lack of criminal due process. Arbitrary detention. Collective punishment”, which Lynk says are not random isolated acts, but rather “integral to Israel’s system of rule.”)

While Israeli apartheid differs from South African Apartheid, Lynk firmly stated that “This is apartheid.”

“There are pitiless features of Israel’s ‘apartness’ rule in the occupied Palestinian territory that were not practiced in southern Africa, such as segregated highways, high walls and extensive checkpoints, a barricaded population, missile strikes and tank shelling of a civilian population, and the abandonment of the Palestinians’ social welfare to the international community,” the report said. 

“With the eyes of the international community wide open, Israel has imposed upon Palestine an apartheid reality in a post-apartheid world.”

Lynk’s report is the latest in a series of reports by international and Israeli human rights groups accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid — something Palestinian experts and human rights groups have been doing for decades. 

Notably, unlike the latest reports from Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch, and B’Tselem, Lynk’s report pays particular attention to the role that fragmentation has played in establishing and maintaining Israel’s apartheid regime, and acknowledges the settler-colonial nature of Israel’s regime. 

In his report, Lynk recommended that Israel “completely and unconditionally” ends the occupation, “all discriminatory and apartheid laws, practices and policies which privilege Jewish Israelis,” and “fully respect the national rights and human rights of the Palestinians.”

Israel “must enable them [Palestinians] to exercise their freedom of movement, assembly, expression and association, and it must remove all arbitrary and inequitable restrictions on family life, property, employment, access and enjoyment of resources, education and daily life,” Lynk said. 

He also called on the international community to enforce accountability measures to “bring the Israeli occupation and its practice of apartheid in the Palestinian territory to a complete end.”

Yumna Patel is the Palestine News Director for Mondoweiss