Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 17:45 pm (KSA) 14:45 pm (GMT)

Israel's W. Bank system like apartheid: report

65 percent of roads leading to the 18 most populous Palestinian West Bank towns are blocked or controlled by military checkpoints (File)
65 percent of roads leading to the 18 most populous Palestinian West Bank towns are blocked or controlled by military checkpoints (File)

Israel’s institutionalized discrimination and segregation practices in the Occupied Territories are reminiscent of white South Africa’s apartheid system, an Israeli human rights group said Sunday.

The 4 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have been denied fundamental rights with many of them living in third-world conditions under “the dark shadow of occupation and the separation regime,” the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said in a report published Sunday.

“There is a systemic and systematic discrimination against this community - in land and planning, resource allocation, etc., but according to the law they are equal citizens,” Melanie Takefman, international communication and development coordinator for ACRI, told AlArabiya.net in an interview.

 We are seeing an increasing tendency toward segregation between Palestinian and Israeli populations in all aspects of life in the justice system and allocation of resources, 
Melanie Takefman, ACRI

The 78-page-report released ahead of Wednesday's 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, details the ways in which Israel has “shirked” its responsibility to provide equal and fundamental rights to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

“This state of affairs in which all the services, budgets, and the access to natural resources are granted along discriminatory and separatist lines according to ethnic-national criteria is a blatant violation of the principle of equality, and is in many ways reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa,” said the report.

It notes that 2.3 million Palestinians in the West Bank outside annexed Arab east Jerusalem are subject to military law and Administration whereas the 250,000 Jewish settlers live under Israeli civilian law.

“We are seeing an increasing tendency toward segregation between Palestinian and Israeli populations in all aspects of life in the justice system and allocation of resources,” said Takefman.

“I think the Israeli authorities and the Court in particular, this is most surprising, have become indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians,” she said, explaining that legal precedent has often been ignored.

“The security discourse here in Israel is very strong and tends to infiltrate every aspect of life including the protection of human rights.”

Critics call the Israeli wall in the West Bank an apartheid wall (Courtesy of The Corner Report)

Route 443 is one of the most blatant examples of court-sanctioned segregation, said Takefman. Following a high court decision, only Israeli cars are allowed to use the modern and developed road system while Palestinians are confined and forced to use "winding and dangerous roads" in what amounts to an official separation of movement policy that contravenes international law, according to the report.

And with more than 600 roadblocks throughout the West Bank, Palestinian movement is greatly inhibited. The report cited figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs figures showing that some 65 percent of roads leading to the 18 most populous Palestinian West Bank towns are blocked or controlled by military checkpoints.

The same applies even more so in Gaza since Israel’s disengagement in 2005, where borders to other areas are “almost hermetically sealed” creating prison-like conditions, according to the report.

The blockade Israel imposed since the Hamas movement seized power in June 2007 has had devastating effects on the Gazan economy and people.

"The blockade policy has almost completely destroyed the industry. Unemployment and poverty are surging,” said the report. “The blockade caused the collapse of local authorities that are struggling to provide residents basic services such as water, sewage and sanitation."

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