Amnesty International’s new research report, Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity shows that Israeli authorities impose a system of domination and oppression against the Palestinian people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and against Palestinian refugees. Laws, policies, and institutional practices all work to expel, fragment, and dispossess Palestinians of their land and property, and deprive Palestinians of their human rights. We conclude this treatment amounts to an institutionalized regime of oppression and domination defined as apartheid under international law. 

Amnesty’s research, campaigns, advocacy, and statements pertaining to Israel are focused on the actions of the Israeli government — they are not, and never will be, a condemnation of Judaism or the Jewish people. Antisemitism is antithetical to everything Amnesty represents as a human rights organization.


Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave human rights violation, and a crime against humanity. It constitutes both a system (formed of laws, policies, and practices) and a crime (specific acts). 

The term “apartheid” was originally used to refer to a political system in South Africa which explicitly enforced racial segregation, and the domination and oppression of one racial group by another. It has since been adopted by the international community to condemn and criminalize such systems and practices wherever they occur in the world.

Three main international treaties prohibit and/or explicitly criminalize apartheid: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD); the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (Apartheid Convention); and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute).

The Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute define apartheid as a crime against humanity, committed when any ‘inhuman’ or ‘inhumane’ act is perpetrated in the context of an ‘institutionalized regime’ of systematic ‘oppression’ and ‘domination’ by one racial group over another, with the intent to maintain that system. Inhuman/inhumane acts include unlawful killing and serious injury, torture, forcible transfer, persecution, and the denial of basic rights and freedoms.

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Amnesty International has created a free 90-minute course called “Deconstructing Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians.” To learn more about the crime of apartheid in international law, what apartheid looks like in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and how it affects Palestinians’ lives, sign up for our course on Amnesty International’s human rights education academy.

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Apartheid is a crime against humanity and is not acceptable anywhere in the world. When a crime against humanity is committed, we all have an obligation to help end it and hold those responsible to account. This report serves to amplify the growing calls from Palestinian and Israeli civil society for justice and to encourage world leaders to strive for peace based on justice including human rights and accountability. Our research and campaign aim to end the government of Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians.  

GAZA CITY, PALESTINIAN TERRITORY — MAY 25, 2021: Dozens of Palestinian children and family members attend a candlelight vigil to condemn the killing of children and civilians, which is held over the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli military strike during the 11-day escalation between Israel and Gaza military factions. (Photo by MARCUS YAM / LOS ANGELES TIMES)



Amnesty’s research confirms that the government of Israel has created and maintains laws, policies, and practices that deliberately oppress Palestinians. This includes racist seizures of property, and policies that make it impossible for many Palestinians to build homes. Additional violations include unlawful killing and serious injury, torture, forcible transfer, persecution, and the denial of many other basic rights and freedoms. We MUST speak out to end it.

Take action: Send your letter directly to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett now.

We’ve drafted a letter for you to send. As a first step, we’re urging Prime Minister Bennett to cancel all orders for forced evictions and home demolitions against Palestinians, and end forced displacement of Palestinians.

TAKE ACTION: send a letter to israeli prime minister naftali bennet now



Amnesty International is providing the following wide-ranging recommendations to the Israeli government and other relevant stakeholders to dismantle the system of apartheid against Palestinians and end the associated human rights violations. We are making recommendations to the Israeli authorities covering laws, practices, and policies that relate to Palestinians in general, as well as specific ones relating to each of the domains of control – Israel, East Jerusalem, the rest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – and Palestinian refugees outside Israel and the OPT. We also include a few recommendations for the Palestinian authorities.


  1. End the system of apartheid by dismantling measures of discrimination, segregation and oppression currently in place against the Palestinian population and undertake a review of all laws, regulations, policies, and practices that discriminate on racial, ethnic or religious grounds, and repeal or amend them to bring them into line with international human rights law and standards — in particular the government of Israel’s obligations to ensure the principle of non-discrimination under international law.
  2. Grant equal and full human rights to all Palestinians in Israel and the OPT in line with principles of international human rights law and without discrimination, while ensuring respect for protections guaranteed for Palestinians in the OPT under international humanitarian law.
  3. Immediately order all state authorities to end and refrain from all future conduct that violates international law, including: forcible transfer of population, arbitrary arrest, administrative detention, torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful killings and infliction of injuries, and arbitrary restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement and residence in their communities; and respect their right to family life, and their rights to access livelihoods, housing, food, water, essential healthcare services, and education.


To meaningfully uphold human rights, as required by U.S. law and international law, we call on the Biden administration and Congress to take the key actions detailed below.

  1. End all U.S. support for the Israeli government’s rights violations and crimes against humanity against Palestinians­—particularly the unlawful campaign of forced displacement via home demolitions, evictions, and settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem and the OPT, including by:
    1. Withholding additional military aid, suspending arms transfers, and blocking imports of goods made in unlawful settlements.
    2. Unequivocally demanding cancellation of all standing eviction and demolition orders and a moratorium on future orders.
    3. Calling on Israel’s government to address its responsibility to remedy the discriminatorily denied right to return of Palestinian refugees displaced in past decades’ escalations.
  2. As required by the Foreign Assistance Act and Leahy Laws, temporarily suspend all arms sales and military aid to the Israeli government—including that which could be used in the crime of apartheid and other grave violations—and condition resumption on a comprehensive vetting and designation of Leahy-ineligible Israeli military units complicit in rights violations.
    1. Further investigate and issue a public report by relevant departments including the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the documented use of U.S.-made arms and other aid in human rights abuses (such as in the commission of apartheid) by Israeli forces, as must be done for all countries the U.S. arms.
  3. Reject Israeli officials’ repression of Palestinian civil society, and demand immediate reversal of the abusive “terrorist” designation and effective outlawing of six Palestinian NGOs
    1. Further call on the release of all arbitrarily detained Palestinians, including children—many held without charges.
  4. Demand Israel’s government lift the unlawful Gaza blockade and barriers blocking Gazans’ right to freely leave and return, including for medical treatment and:
    1. Ending all barriers to and the politicizing of life-saving humanitarian aid to Gaza and the OPT broadly,
    2. Ceasing unlawful and arbitrary restrictions on Palestinians’ right of free movement across the OPT.
  5. Press Israeli officials to repeal cruel, discriminatory policies that deprive Palestinians’ human rights such as the nation-state law, the cruel barring of Palestinian family reunification between the OPT and Israel, and the arbitrary deprival of citizenship and/or (in East Jerusalem) residency.
    1. Additionally insist officials provide Palestinians equitable access to critical resources, land, public services, and social and economic rights.
  6. Pursuant to 22 U.S.C. § 8213, support international investigative and accountability measures for crimes under international law committed in Israel and the OPT by all parties, including Israeli authorities.



A Palestinian boy sleeps in the ruins of his family house that was destroyed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza City on July 2, 2021. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)


There is no place for apartheid in our world. It is a crime against humanity, and it must end.

For decades, Palestinians have been calling for an end to the oppression they live under. All too often, they pay a terrible price for standing up for their rights, and they have long been calling for others around the world to help dismantle the cruel system.

Israeli authorities have enjoyed impunity for too long. The international failure to hold the government of Israel to account means Palestinians are still suffering every single day.

As long as Palestinians are denied equal rights, peace and security will remain a distant prospect for Israelis and Palestinians alike. Let this be the beginning of an end to the Israeli government’s system of apartheid against Palestinians.

Join us in the fight for justice, freedom, and equality for all.

TAKE ACTION: send a letter to israeli prime minister naftali bennet now
Statement: Amnesty Against Antisemitism