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Rights Group Accuses Israel of Acts That Amount to Crimes Against Humanity

By VOA News April 27, 2021

A human rights group has accused Israel of committing crimes against Palestinians that it says are tantamount to crimes against humanity.

Human Rights Watch said in a 213-page report released Tuesday that Israel has implemented policies that persecuted Palestinians and committed apartheid against them within its borders and in the occupied territories.

The report cited Israel's limits on Palestinian movement and its seizure of Palestinian land for Jewish settlements in territory Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

"Across Israel and the (Palestinian territories), Israeli authorities have pursued an intent to maintain domination over Palestinians by exercising control over land and demographics for the benefit of Jewish Israelis," the report says.

"On this basis, the report concludes that Israeli officials have committed the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution," as defined by the United Nations 1973 Apartheid Convention and the International Criminal Court's 1998 Rome Statute.

The report was released just weeks after the ICC said it would investigate war crimes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, possibly committed by the Israeli military and armed Palestinian groups.

In response to HRW's report, Israel's foreign ministry said Israel's Arab minority receives full civil rights and the accusations were "both preposterous and false." The ministry also accused the New York-based group of pursuing an "anti-Israel agenda" and trying "for years to promote boycotts against Israel."

Israel perceives Gaza as a hostile area governed by the Islamic militant group Hamas. Israel sees the West Bank as disputed territory that remains unsettled after peace talks collapsed more than a decade ago.

Israel controls more than 60% of the West Bank, where it restricts movement and residential requirements. The nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers who reside in the West Bank have full Israeli citizenship, while the territory's 2.5 million Palestinians live under military rule.

Israel is mostly governed by right wing parties that are opposed to creating a Palestinian state.

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