- Israel’s Arab minority comprises just over 20% of its population of 9.3 million, while at least 2.5 million Palestinians live in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and 3,50,000 in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
- About 1.9 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, which the UN considers to also be occupied by Israel.
- Israel occupied the territories in the 1967 Middle East war. It pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but still controls most of its borders, as well as its airspace and waters off its coast.
- More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Most of the international community considers the settlements illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
Why in News?
- Human Rights Watch in its latest report titled “A Threshold Crossed” said that Israel is committing the crime of “apartheid” by seeking to maintain Jewish domination over Palestinians and its own Arab population.
- Apartheid amounts to state-sanctioned racial discrimination and is considered a crime against humanity. Historically, apartheid was a policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by the white minority government against the black majority in South Africa from 1948 until 1991.
- The rights group pointed to measures, including movement restrictions, land confiscation, forcible population transfer, denial of residency rights and suspension of civil rights. Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians.
- Israel’s foreign ministry has rejected the report as “preposterous and false”. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the report.
- Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights.
- By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, they give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes.