Israel's policies and actions aim to fragment Palestinian communities and impede their unity, and capacity in establishing a Palestinian state. Isolated into 3 separate territories - East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza - all separated by military borders & walls, with special permits required by Palestinians to visit a separate territory - which are extremely difficult to obtain.
In the West Bank, 279 Israeli settlements housing 800,000 settlers, with a dense network of Israeli-only motorways further divides and fragments what remains of a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank.
In March 2019 prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that “maintaining a separation policy between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza helps prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state”.
Following Hamas’s victory in parliamentary elections in 2007, Israel declared the Gaza Strip a “hostile entity” and imposed an air, land, and sea blockade on the strip of land home to 2 million Palestinians. Israel’s despotic control over Gaza has created what is described as “the world’s largest open-air prison”.
Except under “exceptional humanitarian circumstances” it is impossible for Palestinians in Gaza to leave the blockade and reunite with family in the West Bank or elsewhere. 80% of the population relies on humanitarian aid, and unemployment is >50%. Healthcare, water, sanitation, electricity, education are all incapacitated.
Israeli forces (mostly the air force) have killed over 7,778 Palestinians in Gaza since 2000 - 1,741 of whom were minors, half of whom were under 12 years old. When Palestinians in Gaza defend themselves from daily persecution, they are deemed terrorists. Yet, Israel collectively punishing 2 million Palestinians for over 16 years, blowing up entire buildings and killing indiscriminately – they are somehow still held by their own propaganda as “the most moral army in the world” defending itself.
Source: Al Jazeera 2022; 15 Years On: Gaza Blockade Brings Society to the Brink.
Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel annexed East Jerusalem, declared it part of its unified capital, and implemented settler colonial policies to increase Jewish presence and control while reducing Palestinian growth. Today there are ~250,000 Jewish settlers living in East Jerusalem across 14 settlements further fragmenting Palestinian communities. Palestinians in East Jerusalem hold residency permits, which grant them the status of "permanent residents" but not Israeli citizenship. These permits can be revoked by Israeli authorities under various pretexts, including prolonged absence from Jerusalem under the Absentee Law.
Palestinians account for 38.5% of East Jerusalem’s population, yet only 10-15% of the annual local budget is allocated to these areas. East Jerusalem has been cut off from the rest of the West Bank, with Palestinians requiring special permits to pass checkpoints and enter the city. Jewish settlers can travel freely back & forth on Israeli-only motorways built over Palestinian lands.
It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain building permits. Charged at extortionate prices, responses taking years to receive, and almost always rejected. Many are forced to build on their lands without building permits as a result creating a situation where Palestinian neighbourhoods suffer from overcrowding, limited infrastructure development, and worst of all - constant threat of home demolitions and expropriations. Israel’s intent - limit Palestinian expansion & maintain Jewish demographic dominance.
The West Bank was occupied by Israel in 1967 as a “temporary solution”. 56 years later and 61% (Area C) of the West Bank is under complete Israeli control & home to 500,000 settlers (not including the 250,000 living in Occupied East Jerusalem). The Palestinian Authority is responsible for administrative affairs of the remaining 39% (Area A & B) but its powers subordinate to Israel.
This settler colonial project has fragmented and separated Palestinian communities, families and farmland. Fortressed settlements, Israeli-only motorways, military zones, ~760km long separation wall - in which >85% was built beyond the 1967 border carving off almost 10% of the territory. Land & home evictions make way for the expansion of settlements or construction of Israeli infrastructure.
Israel strips the West Bank of its economic wealth and keeps the Palestinian economy in a perpetual state of de-development and subordination to the Israeli economy. The World Bank estimates the Palestinian economy loses $3.4 billion annually from the exploitation of its natural resources – a third of Palestinian GDP. Israeli authorities control all major water sources in the West Bank and determine how much water Palestinians can use - 70litres/day for Palestinians, 300litres/day for Israeli settlers.
Military checkpoints all over the West Bank are used to control the movement of Palestinians and further divide and fragment their communities. The morning & evening checkpoints to Israel involves ~2 hours of waiting (Palestinians with an Israeli work permit pay ~$500/month for this right), it inhibits their access to essential services, quality education & healthcare, and moving between different areas.
Israeli military raids, killings & arrests: Since 2000, there have been 2,582 deaths, 498 of whom were minors. Countless arbitrary arrests and administrative detentions without judicial oversight (all Palestinians in the OPT are subject to military law). 558 Palestinians are serving life imprisonment sentences, thousands serving unjustly long sentences, and 141 minors currently in detention/prison.
Palestinians advocating for their rights or protesting the occupation face violent crackdowns, with arrests and detentions. Collective punishment is employed by Israeli authorities to punish entire communities for the actions of a few individuals. This includes punitive measures such as curfews, closures, and economic restrictions, home evictions and demolitions and evictions. While settlers, encouraged and protected by the Israeli government, harass Palestinians - burning homes, cars, uprooting olive farms, and shooting at them (settlers have the right to bear arms).
The West Bank
Palestinians Outside of the OPT & Israel
Of the 800,000 Palestinians expelled in 1947-49, and 350,000 displaced after the 1967 war, these refugees and their descendants currently total 5.6 million people. Under international law the descendants of refugees are also considered refugees until a durable solution is found. They have never been granted the right to return as the demographics would affect Israels demographics as “the nation state of the Jewish people”.
Palestinians in Israel
There are 1.9 million Palestinian citizens of Isael, whom Israel refer to as “Israeli Arabs”. They are also subject to systematic discrimination.
Discriminatory laws and policies: The Jewish Nation-State Law passed in 2018 prioritizes Jewish national identity “a Jewish state for a Jewish people”, or as Benjamin Netanyahu elaborates “and only them”. The law downgraded Arabic from an official language to “special status”, institutionalizing preferential treatment for Jewish citizens. If a Palestinian citizen of Israel marries a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza, their partner is not eligible for Israeli citizenship. This law has affected 25,000 – 30,000 Palestinian families. There is no other country in the world that restricts the right of its citizens or residents to family life with spouses from their own people. Foreign spouses of Israeli Jews are granted Israeli citizenship automatically,
Land & Housing policies: Arab Israelis (Palestinian citizens of Israel) often face difficulties in obtaining building permits and land allocation, which limits their ability to develop and expand their communities. There is a significant disparity in state investment between Jewish and Palestinian communities, leading to unequal living conditions. The intent is to control land distribution, limit Palestinian growth, and maintain Jewish demographic dominance in certain areas.
Political representation & participation: Arab Israelis face limited political representation and influence due to various factors, including the high electoral threshold, the fragmentation of Arab representation, political stigmatization, and exclusion from coalition governments.
Education and cultural policies: Arab Israelis encounter challenges in the education system, where their schools often receive fewer resources and face cultural and language restrictions. The curriculum does not adequately address Arab cultural and historical heritage, leading to a fragmented educational experience. This policy aims to shape the narrative and identity of Arab Israelis within a Jewish -majority society, often marginalizing their own cultural and historical identity.
Divide & Conquer
Source: Btselem,2019:Demographic majority for Jews. Demolition for Palestinians.
For an in-depth analysis on Israel's system of apartheid, refer to the following reports;