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Israel accused of apartheid by Human Rights Watch

In its 213-page report, the United States-based advocacy group says the term apartheid has generally been used in a “descriptive or comparative” sense in relation to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and as a warning of what might happen if current trajectories with regard to Palestinians continue.

However, after decades of warnings, the report says, that “threshold” into a crime against humanity, has already been crossed. “The Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinians territory,” reads the report. “That intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid,” it concludes.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the report “fiction” and said the claims were “preposterous and false.”

“Human Rights Watch is known to have a long-standing anti-Israeli agenda, actively seeking for years to promote boycotts against Israel. This report is yet another part of the organization’s ongoing campaign … with no connection to facts or reality on the ground,” the ministry said in a statement.

HRW said the report was intended to compare Israeli law and government policy against legal standards governing the crimes of apartheid and persecution. The release of the report comes three months after a similar publication by Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, which also accused Israel of becoming an “apartheid regime” arguing that the traditional view of Israel as a democracy living side-by-side with a temporary Israeli occupation in the territories “imposed on some five million Palestinian subjects … has grown divorced from reality.”

It also comes just weeks after the International Criminal Court in the Hague announced it was pursuing a war crimes investigation against Israel with a focus, among other things, on Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank.

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