Amnesty International: “We are very clear that the report is just the start”

In a report, Amnesty International said Israel is committing apartheid against Palestinians. The report has garnered much reaction globally. 

Israel has established a system of apartheid against Palestinians, says new Amnesty report  

Shenilla Mohamed, the executive director of Amnesty International South Africa said the report took almost four years to complete. The report built on existing work done by people on the ground in Palestine as well as other international organisations. According to Mohamed, the report is politically significant because it looks at how Israel is carrying out the system of apartheid. 

Amnesty International is an organisation rooted in international law. For that reason, they are calling on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider the crime of apartheid in its current investigation. On December 20 2019, the ICC announced an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed in Palestine by Israeli personnel. Amnesty International are also calling for all states to exercise jurisdiction and bring apartheid crimes to justice.

Mohamed said they want the ICC to put a blockade or sanctions on the sale of arms to Israel. This is so that Israel can stop the crimes against humanity.

The report was met with mixed reactions. However, for Amnesty, according to Mohamed, their report reveals the true extent of Israel’s apartheid regime. “Wherever they are living, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and are systematically deprived of their rights,” she said. 

Part of the report called out the international community’s silence on the issue saying that they failed the Palestinian people. However, it is not just countries who chose to ignore the issue. There are also many countries who supply Israel with arms and shield them from accountability. Amnesty International has called for actions against those countries. The organisation wants the International Criminal Court to look at the states who are complicit in the crimes of apartheid and take action against them. Mohamed said the international community must face up to the reality of Israel’s apartheid. 

The South Africa government has long portrayed itself as a friend of the people of Palestine – condemning Israel’s actions. However, through its actions, the government has often fallen short. Mohamed said while South Africa might be one of the better countries when it comes to Palestine, they are of the view that South Africa is not doing enough.

While Palestinian people, civil society and human rights organisations around the world have welcomed the report, there has been backlash. Israeli organisations as well as Israeli and American government officials have rejected the report. Some lawmakers in the United States have said the report will fuel anti-semitic sentiments.

Mohamed said Amnesty denies and rejects the accusations of anti-semitism. “What we say about those calls is that they are a distraction policy,” she said. She said their evidence in the report speaks for themselves and their main focus is on the people and the human rights violations taking place. 

The report contains many recommendations for Israel, Palestine, the international community and organisations. Mohamed said: “We are very clear that the report is just the start.” The organisation has been working in Israel and Palestine and the Occupied Territories for many years but with the release of the report, they are not going to stop. 

“We are going to push until change happens. This is just the start of Amnesty’s big push to make a change or bring about change. We will continue to push for change until there is change in Palestine,” said Mohamed.