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WHY PALESTINE MATTERS FOR SOUTH AFRICANS



Palestine has been at the forefront of UN advocacy for more than 20 years,

demanding that the world recognise Israel’s rule as apartheid. Research by

Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations, as well as more recently, other human rights organisations, has helped the international community recognise Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as apartheid over time. However, some countries have been hesitant to respond to these requests and have declined to take any significant action against Israel, especially Israel’s Western allies.


Palestinian human rights advocates and organisations have been at the forefront of anti-

apartheid advocacy and campaigning, resulting in them being targeted by

Israeli repression.


According to research conducted by Amnesty International, the Israeli government

has enacted laws, adopted policies, and engaged in practises that intentionally

oppress Palestinians. This includes laws that prevent many Palestinians from

owning property and the racist seizure of property. Torture, forced relocation,

persecution, unlawful killing and serious injury, and the denial of numerous other

fundamental rights and freedoms are examples of additional violations.

The Israeli government has been forcibly displacing entire Palestinian communities

for over 73 years. The homes of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been

demolished, resulting in severe suffering and trauma. The majority of the more than

6 million Palestinian refugees still reside in camps. Palestinians find themselves in a

difficult predicament, in contrast to Jewish Israeli applicants, they are not always

granted permits by the Israeli government, even though they are required to do

so to construct or even erect a structure like a tent. Many Palestinians

are compelled to construct without authorisation. The Israeli government then demolished the Palestinian homes because they were constructed “illegally.”


The Israeli government uses these discriminatory planning and zoning

policies to create unbearable living conditions to force Palestinians to leave their

homes to allow for the expansion of Israeli settlements.


Israel’s government has long kept Palestinians apart from their families through discriminatory laws and practises. For example, Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza cannot gain legal status in Israel or occupied East Jerusalem through marriage, denying their rights to family unification. Due to this policy, thousands of Palestinians are forced to live apart from their loved ones; others are forced to leave the country or live in fear of being detained, arrested, or sent abroad.


More than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza live under an unlawful blockade, a form of collective punishment that has catastrophic consequences. It forces the people of Gaza, most of whom are refugees, to live in dire conditions. There are severe housing shortages, drinking water, electricity, essential medicines, medical care, food, educational equipment and building materials. In 2020, Gaza had the world’s highest unemployment rate, and more than half of its population was living below the poverty line. Gaza is known to be the most densely populated area in the world.



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