Human Rights Watch accuses Israel of apartheid, crimes against humanity

“HRW’s latest contribution consists of the standard mix of shrill propaganda, false allegations, and legal fictions,” said Professor Gerald Steinberg.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An American NGO released a 213-page report on Tuesday accusing Israel of apartheid and crimes against humanity, slamming the Jewish State for alleged persecution of Palestinians.

Human Rights Watch, whose former Washington director is set to be appointed to a key state department post by President Joe Biden, has long criticized Israel.

The report was penned by Omar Shakir, a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) advocate who was the director of Human Rights Watch in Israel and the Palestinian territories. In 2019, Shakir was denied a visa extension after a change in Israeli law aimed at keeping out BDS activists.

“Across Israel and the [Palestinian territories], Israeli authorities have pursued an intent to maintain domination over Palestinians by exercising control over land and demographics for the benefit of Jewish Israelis,” the report states.

“In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

“On this basis, the report concludes that Israeli officials have committed the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” referencing the 1973 Apartheid Convention aimed at apartheid-era South Africa.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, head of watchdog group NGO Monitor, said in a statement that HRW’s comparison of apartheid South Africa was nothing new.

“The demonization of Israel through comparisons to the heinous legacy of the South African apartheid regime has deep roots, going back to the Soviet and Arab campaigns and the infamous Durban NGO Forum,” Steinberg said.

“HRW’s latest contribution consists of the standard mix of shrill propaganda, false allegations, and legal fictions. Exploiting the ‘apartheid’ image for propaganda is a cynical appropriation of the suffering of the victims of the actual apartheid regime.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas praised the report, saying, “It is urgent for the international community to intervene, including by making sure that their states, organizations, and companies are not contributing in any way to the execution of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine.”

The HRW report comes on the heels of an ICC probe investigating alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge military clashes with Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

According to Reuters, HRW has called on the ICC prosecutor to “investigate and prosecute individuals credibly implicated” in apartheid and persecution.

HRW’s founder, Robert Bernstein, has publicly blasted the organization for its biased perspective, especially in the Middle East.

In 2009, he told the New York Times that the organization relies on “witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers.”

He added that HRW disproportionately focuses on Israel, while ignoring human rights abuses in neighboring countries.

“The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records,” he told the Times. “Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.”