'The world is starting to believe us': Palestinians react to Amnesty Israel apartheid report

'The world is starting to believe us': Palestinians react to Amnesty Israel apartheid report
5 min read
West Bank
04 February, 2022
Palestinians have cautiously welcomed an Amnesty report which accused Israel of "the crime of apartheid" but some were doubtful that it would bring about change.
The report was the first time that Amnesty International had described Israel as an apartheid state [Qassam Muaddi / TNA]

Palestinians from all walks of life have cautiously welcomed a recent report from Amnesty International which accused Israel of committing crimes of apartheid against the Palestinian people, but say its findings must bring about real change.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtayyeh described the 280-page report released Tuesday as “one of the most professional and transparent international reports” on Israel's violations of Palestinian rights, and called it “a victory for the Palestinian people’s just cause and a recognition of apartheid’s victims”.

Ishtayyeh called upon Israel's allies "to end their support to the apartheid state and impose sanctions on it, similar to those that were imposed on the apartheid state in South Africa”.

The Palestinian foreign affairs ministry said the report "is of great importance in the exposure of [Israel’s] racist practices”.

“The ugly reality of [Israeli] crimes and impunity can no longer be ignored by the international community,” the ministry said.

The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas said in a statement that Amnesty’s report “is an essential part of the international legal efforts that seek to deliver justice for the Palestinian people”, while the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called upon international bodies "to open an official investigation on Israel’s crime of apartheid… leading to recognition of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of 1948”.

The Amnesty report used research conducted by local human rights groups - including Al-Haq, one of six Palestinian civil society groups designated terrorist organisations by Israel last year for their alleged links to the PFLP.

Al-Haq’s Wesam Ahmad told The New Arab that the Amnesty report provided “an additional credible voice that reinforces the consensus of international system on Israel’s apartheid system”.

“Anyone who wants to keep their credibility on the international legal level, needs to recognize the facts that have been documented for so long, and supported by Amnesty’s report,” he said.

“This report adds to legal efforts that need to continue evolving, through the international system, until the international community takes action”.

Jamal Jumaa, coordinator for Stop The Wall - the Palestinian popular campaign against Israel’s wall and settlements - told The New Arab that “Amnesty’s report proves that Israel’s apartheid is an international consensus”.

“Israel built its whole narrative on the premise that it is a democracy, hiding the reality, hiding away the reality of what it has been doing to the Palestinian people. That narrative is today falling apart,” he said.

Amnesty’s report is an immense support is a recognition of years-long efforts by Palestinian civil society and the solidarity movement to expose Israel as an apartheid system”.

On the ground, Palestinians affected by ongoing or recent campaigns to displace or bomb them asked that the report's findings bring about concrete action.

Nabil El-Kurd, a 78-year old resident of Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood threatened with expulsion from his home, told The New Arab that “Amnesty’s report is good, but it needs to lead to action”.

“We Palestinians have told our story to the world, and the world is beginning to believe us," he said.

Ruba Taleb, a young Palestinian activist, lives in the Bedouin village of Shaqib Al-Salam in the Negev (Naqab) desert, where Palestinians have for weeks been protesting Israel's razing of their land.

"Any new report won’t be of use if impunity continues,” Taleb told The New Arab.

“If Israel has continued these practices for so many years, it’s precisely because the world sees them and does nothing."

In Gaza, Palestinian journalist Hadeel Al-Gherbawi told The New Arab that the report has come "too late" for many living in the besieged, densely populated enclave.

"Israel’s siege has already killed any life possibilities in Gaza, and its latest two offensives on the Strip crossed all lines in terms of destruction,” she said.

Al-Gherbawi said she was disillusioned with the international community.

"The only support that arrives in Gaza, aside from words, is humanitarian aid that works like morphine shots to make us bear what is unbearable,” she said.

She holds out some hope, however, that the report might help change things.

“The report remains positive overall because it can help pressure the occupation state on the international level, which could lead to some change in the future”.