U.N. official says Israel's policies in West Bank, Gaza "amount to apartheid, ethnic cleansing"
A senior expert at the United Nations says Israel’s policies in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip appear to amount to “apartheid.”
Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, made the remarks in a searing 22-page report to the world body’s Human Rights Council on Monday.
"Through prolonged occupation, with practices and policies which appear to constitute apartheid and segregation, ongoing expansion of settlements, and continual construction of the wall arguably amounting to de facto annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, the denial by Israel of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people is evident," the report said.
In Jerusalem, the "revocation of residency permits" and "forced evictions of Palestinian families," as well as targeted demolition of Palestinian homes, amounts to a "gradual and bureaucratic process of ethnic cleansing," Falk wrote in the report.
The Israeli regime maintains a defiant stand on the issue of its illegal settlements on Palestinian land as it refuses to freeze settlement expansion. Tel Aviv has come under repeated and widespread international condemnation over the issue.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Falk condemned Israel’s use of force and unlawful killing of Palestinians, saying that the U.N. should consider imposing sanctions on Israel.
He also criticized Israel’s attacks on Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip, saying that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire. He added that Israel violates Palestinians’ rights to work, education, freedom of movement, and assembly.
Gaza has been blockaded since June 2007, a situation that has caused a decline in the standards of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
Israel denies about 1.7 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs that pay proper wages, and adequate healthcare and education.