Tribunal Hears of Palestinians' Plight
Israel's practices of occupying some Palestinian territories, restricting the movement of Palestinians by forcing them to carry IDs and demolishing their houses constituted the crime of apartheid, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine heard.
Experts and witnesses testifying at the Third Russell Tribunal on Palestine, at the District Six Museum, accused the Israeli government of systematic segregation against Palestinians, with most witnesses drawing similarities between the Palestine situation and apartheid South Africa.
The tribunal is considering whether Israel's practices against the Palestinians are in breach of the prohibition on apartheid under international law.
Luciana Coconi, a law graduate from Argentina's Universidad Nacional de Crdoba and author of the report "Apartheid against the Palestinian People", said yesterday that the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination noted with concerns the disproportionate land distribution in Palestine, Israel's discriminatory attitude towards Palestinians as well the lack of access to water, education and other basic services experienced by Palestinians.
Coconi said movement restrictions ensured that Muslims did not have access to holy places of worship in Jerusalem. She cited a UN special rapporteur which said Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank amounted to apartheid.
Grazia Careccia, of Al Haq, a Palestinian human rights NGO, said the fragmentation of Occupied Palestine Territories was maintained through legislation and military orders which were constantly modified "to an extent that Palestinians don't know which laws are applicable".
"Restrictions of movement (by Palestinians) are coupled with physical obstacles such as trenches, roadblocks, checkpoints and the wall," Careccia said.
She said that while the IDs that Palestinians were forced to carry indicated one's religion they made no mention of one's nationality.
She added that Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip did not have access to the West Bank and that Palestinians leaving the country for health treatment in Jordan and returning to Palestine later were harassed by Israeli authorities. …