Smoke and flames rise during an Israeli air strike on the occupied Gaza Strip, the home of over 2 million Palestinians. 14 May, 2021. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)
On 7 January the Foreign Minister of Israel, Yair Lapid, revealed that his government is worried about what he referred to as an increase in the number of people who label Israel as an ”apartheid regime.”
Speaking to reporters during a Zoom media conference, Lapid said: ”Calling Israel an apartheid regime was a slowly creeping trend for a very long time, and in 2022, it will be a real threat.”
He added that the occupation is concerned that more international organizations will follow in the footsteps of others that have already labeled Israel as an apartheid state. He said such a move has the ”potential to cause significant damage” to the image of Israel.
Organization such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) have said the crimes by the Israeli occupation against Palestinians are tantamount to apartheid.
While the occupation touts itself as ”the most democratic” nation in West Asia, it runs a state that is founded and based on a system of persecution and discrimination against Palestinians. According to HRW, the crimes committed by the Israeli occupation qualify it to be labeled as an apartheid state.
The international convention on the suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid describes it as, ”inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” This definition was adopted and enhanced by 2002 Rome statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Rome statute goes further to identify some acts of apartheid. According to the statute, some of these include forced transfers of a civilian population, expropriation of land property, creation of separate living areas and ghettos, and the denial of the right to a nationality.
Since its founding Israel has carried out all these acts against the Palestinian population. It is for this reason that in March 2021 former International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that the court would open an investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967.
As expected, the Israeli government reacted angrily to the announcement and said that it would cooperate with the court. Then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed this decision by the ICC was , “the essence of anti-Semitism and the essence of hypocrisy.”
Bensouda retired in June 2021 and her successor British lawyer Karim Khan promised to continue with the investigation, however the investigation has not made much progress since then. It is believed that this is due to pressure from Israel and its closest ally, the US.