The political and social system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination known as apartheid originated in South Africa, after the region was colonized by the English and Dutch in the seventeenth century. However, the term apartheid has been often used for Israel in the last few years, following reports of Palestinians being denied equal rights by the state of Israel, allegedly under a deliberate policy of racial or ethnic segregation.
Under Israeli military occupation, millions of Palestinians live in conditions that reflect the apartheid system, which existed in South Africa, according to Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign. The organization adds that Palestinian people have been denied free movement between towns and cities by the Israeli military, and that Gaza Strip, a small self-governing Palestinian territory on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is surrounded and controlled by Israel. It has been sealed off and turned into one of world's largest open-air prison where hundreds of Palestinians have been imprisoned, SMAC said.
According to B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, 5,988 Palestinian detainees were held in Israeli prisons at the end of August 2016, 336 of them from the Gaza Strip.
About four million Palestinians in the occupied territories do not have the right to vote, millions still do not have identity cards that determine the ability to work and move freely. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state rather than a state for all its citizens, according to SMAC.
A report by a United Nations agency — the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia ( ESCWA ) — released Wednesday, proved very controversial in the U.S. and U.N. The report, which said Israel established an "apartheid regime," was denounced by Israel, a move in which it was supported by the United States.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked ESCWA — a commission to promote cooperation between 18 Arab countries — to withdraw the report from its website, prompting Rima Khalaf, executive secretary of the commission, to announce her resignation Friday. Guterres' request came after the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley expressed her outrage over the report.
"I do not find it surprising that such member states, who now have governments with little regard for international norms and values of human rights, will resort to intimidation when they find it hard to defend their unlawful policies and practices," Khalaf, a native of Jordan, wrote to Guterres, according to Reuters.
Both Haley and Israel's U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon said Khalaf's resignation was appropriate and was long overdue.
Israeli Apartheid and South African Apartheid differ. South Africa was the nation which gave definition to the term apartheid and the international community later defined and ratified several conventions on it. For Israel, apartheid refers to its legal violation — Israel's breaches of international law.