What we do

Combatting Israeli Apartheid

'Settler - only' road near Beit Sahour.'
'Settler - only' road near Beit Sahour. Photo: Marie Crawley, 2007
During a Dáil debate on the annexation of Palestine in May 2021, the Irish Parliament declared that de facto annexation is happening in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Many TDs spoke passionately about the unequal treatment of the Palestinian people,  and called for the international community to take action. Sadaka is amongst the growing number of NGOs both domestically and internationally, defining Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people as one of apartheid. 

Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch in late April of 2021. The finding is based on an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians, and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem. It concluded that there is a "present-day reality of a single authority, the Israeli government… methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory."1

Most recently, Amnesty International published its report on Israeli Apartheid in February of 2022, effectively reinforcing the claims made by Human Rights Watch almost a year earlier. This report documented and analysed Israel’s institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Palestinians within the framework of the definition of apartheid under international law. It found that the system of oppression and domination employed by Israel, which operates with varying levels of intensity and repression based on Palestinians’ status in the separate enclaves where Palestinians live, violates their rights in different ways, and ultimately seeks to establish and maintain Jewish hegemony in the areas where Israel exercises effective control5.Through rigorous analysis, Amnesty International concluded that Israel has perpetrated the international wrong of apartheid, as a human rights violation, and a violation of public international law, in the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel maintains this apartheid regime through a complex framework of laws that enable demographic engineering, widespread land appropriation and the fragmentation of the Palestinian people and territory. These laws also introduce illegally transferred Jewish settlers to colonize both sides of the Green Line. Racially discriminatory laws seek to subordinate the Palestinian population as a whole through denying their collective rights of return, self-determination and permanent sovereignty (over lands on both sides of the Green Line)2. All of this essentially exists to afford a different set of rights to Jewish Israeli citizens than to Palestinians.

In the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the Israeli regime implements laws, practices and state violence designed to cement the supremacy of one group – Jewish Israelis – over another – Palestinians. A key method in pursuing this goal is engineering space differently for each group2. Jewish citizens live as though the entire area were a single space (excluding the Gaza Strip). The Green Line means next to nothing for them: whether they live west of it, within Israel’s sovereign territory, or east of it, in settlements not formally annexed to Israel, is irrelevant to their rights or status2. Where Palestinians live, on the other hand, is crucial. The Israeli regime has divided the area into several units that it defines and governs differently, according Palestinians different rights in each. This division is relevant to Palestinians only. The geographic space, which is contiguous for Jews, is a fragmented mosaic for Palestinians3.

Settlement construction just outside of Bethlehem, 2017
Entrance to a new Israeli settlement on the edge of Bethlehem.
Photo: Jenny Byrne, 2017
Despite living in the same territory, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, while Israeli settlers living illegally in permanent, Jewish-only communities built on Palestinian land are subject to the Israeli civilian legal system3. Since Israeli forces occupied the West Bank in 1967, Israeli authorities have established more than 200 Jewish-only settlements that house around 700,000 Israeli citizens, according to the Times of Israel4. Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded and denied the right of return5.

Israel’s legal architecture codifies a privileged status for its Jewish citizens, and discriminates against all its non-Jewish persons, and particularly its Palestinian citizens2. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, its foundational laws provided the legal basis for Jewish domination over the Palestinian people as a whole, through entrenching their fragmentation. The State of Israel seeks to justify this discriminatory practice by claiming that Palestinians abuse their basic rights by engaging in and facilitating terrorist activity3. These laws, and their associated justifications and practices, are the legal basis of Israel’s apartheid regime.

Yet states, particularly Israel’s Western allies, have been reluctant to take any meaningful action against Israel practice of apartheid. Meanwhile, Palestinian organizations and human rights defenders who have been leading anti-apartheid advocacy and campaigning efforts have faced growing Israeli repression for years as punishment for their work5. In October 2021, the Israeli authorities escalated their attacks on Palestinian civil society even further by misusing counterterrorism legislation to outlaw six prominent organizations, including three major human rights groups, to shut down their offices and to detain and prosecute their employees. This all constitutes institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Palestinians within the framework of apartheid under international law5.


1. Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution (Human Rights Watch, 27th April 2021)

2. This Is Apartheid (B’tselem, January 2021, PDF)

3. The Legal Architecture of Apartheid (Dr. Susan Power, Al Haq, 2nd April 2021, PDF)

4. Israel Approves 800 New Settlement Homes (Times of Israel, 17th January 2021, PDF)

5. Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians (Amnesty International, February 2022, PDF)

Other Resources

Amnesty International Press Conference: End Israeli Apartheid (Facebook, February2022, Video)

A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution (Human Rights Watch, 27 April 2021)

Israeli Apartheid 101 (AARDI, March 2017)

This Is Apartheid (B’Tselem, January 2021)

The Separation Wall (Diakonia, 2020)

In Pictures: Israel’s Illegal Separation Wall Still Divides (Al Jazeera, 8 July 2020)

Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid (ESCWA, 2017 PDF)

It is Apartheid: The reality of Israel's colonial occupation of Palestine (PLO, 2020 PDF)
Contact us

Sadaka - the Ireland Palestine Alliance
PO BOX 110
Ballyshannon PO
Co. Donegal
Email: info@sadaka.ie

Sadaka logo Sadaka - the Ireland Palestine Alliance,   PO Box 110,   Ballyshannon PO,   Co. Donegal,   Ireland    Email: info@sadaka.ie Sadaka logo