Facts About Israeli Apartheid [index]

List of International Law Violations by the State of Israel

The state of Israel has violated many international laws, including United Nations Resolutions and the Laws of War and Occupation as stated in the Fourth Geneva Convention. Below is a summary of some of those violations. Much of the fact sheet was taken from the Israeli Law Resource Center (ILRC). Related articles and laws by the ILRC are linked below.

Israeli Occupation is Illegal

Laws Violated: U.N. Charter, Article 2(4) & 51 (1945); Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations…, Principle 1 (1970).

Israeli Actions: It is illegal under international law to acquire land by force: Israel annexed land occupied by force during 1948 and 1967 wars (lands other than those given by the UN 1947-48 partition plan) ILRC article. Military action and occupations are legal only if they are for self-defense, or to directly benefit the native population. But studies show Israel is not just defending itself as it develops de-facto annexation with its settlements and separation barrier on occupied land, as it takes over most of the occupied territories (over 70%) and its natural resources for its own use and economic benefit, at the expense of the native population. ILRC article on why the Occupation is illegal.

Illegal Israeli Settlements on Occupied Land

Laws Violated: Geneva Conventions IV, Article 49(6) (1949). It is illegal to colonize occupied land or transfer non-indigenous population to that land.

Israeli Actions: Immediately following the 1967 war, Israel began building Israeli civilian settlements on Palestinian lands, eventually building over 200 settlements throughout the occupied territories, and settling over 450,000 Israeli civilians in them, displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians from their own legally owned lands. In addition, Israeli citizens live in hundreds of Israeli settlements on occupied land not originally given to them in the UN Partition Plan, displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. ILRC article.

Illegal to Take Land by Force & Claim Sovereignty

Laws Violated: U.N. Charter, Article 2(4) (1945); Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations…, Principle 1 (1970).

Israeli Actions: In violation of the UN Partition Plan, Israel took an extra 15% of the land in 1948, and then, following the 1967 war, Israel confiscated East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. ILRC article.

Illegal Israeli Practice of Ethnic Cleansing

Laws Violated: Forbidding civilian populations the right to return to their homes following the end of armed conflict is in direct violation of international law and UN resolutions. Geneva Convention IV, Articles 45, 46 & 49 (1949), UN resolutions 194 (III) (General Assembly; 1948) & 237 (Security Council; 1967).

Israeli Actions: Since 1910, in different ways, the Zionists and then Israel have taken Palestinian lands, forced native populations from their land, and then refused the Palestinian landowners or tenants’ residency or employment on them. Following fighting in 1948 and then again in 1967, Palestinian civilians who wished to return to their homes in Israel and the Occupied Territories were forbidden re-entry (“right of return”), confining them to increasingly smaller areas of Israel and Occupied Territories. The Israeli government enacts laws, and employs its military to keep approximately 750,000 Palestinian Arab civilians from returning to their homes following the end of fighting both in 1948 and in the occupied territories in 1967. Israel then violates UN resolutions ordering them to respect Palestinians’ right to return to their homes. See the ILRC article on Right of Return and ILRC article on Ethnic Cleansing.

Israeli Apartheid System is Illegal

Laws Violated: International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1976). Link to our fact sheets on Israeli Apartheid.

Israeli Actions: The State of Israel has a formal system of legalized discrimination against Palestinian Arabs which technically fits the official UN definition of Apartheid. ILRC article. Israel’s society-wide system of discrimination and isolation of the Palestinian people within Israel, and its system of exploitation, oppression and isolation in the occupied territories, fits exactly the official, legal UN definition of apartheid, which is considered to be a crime against humanity. The practice of passing laws which give special favor throughout Israeli society to the Jewish people over all other people, and especially the native Palestinian Arab people, embodies the UN definition of apartheid, which is giving special favor to one group of people above all other groups based on criteria like what religion they are.

Another example is in 2003, the Israeli legislature (Knesset) passed legislation that forbade spouses of Arab-Israeli citizens who are in the occupied territories from joining their families in Israel (with some exceptions). The reason for this legislation is to help maintain the Jewish demographic majority family unification. The racist nature is evident in that only Palestinians (no other ethnic groups) are not forbidden to live in Israel after marrying an Israeli. ILRC article. General article. Amnesty International argues that this law violates fundamental principles of equity, human dignity and personal freedom enshrined in basic law as well as the rights of the child to live with both parents and other fundamental rights enshrined in human rights treaties in which Israel is a signer. ILRC article on Israeli Apartheid.

Massive Violations of Human Rights (HR)

Laws Violated: U.N. Charter, Article 1 (1945); Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations…, Principle 5 (1970).

Israeli Actions: Studies by UN, I.C.J., and International H.R. organizations have found that Israel violates the human rights of Palestinian people on a massive scale, including torture, imprisonment without charges or trial, land confiscation, harassment at checkpoints, unwarranted civilian shootings, not punishing Israeli settlers’ crimes against Palestinians, unwarranted disruption of medical care, commerce, employment, free movement, destruction of public and private property, family separation, etc... ILRC article.

Collective Punishment is Illegal

Laws Violated: Geneva Conventions IV, Article 33 (1949); Geneva Conventions (Protocol I), Article 75(2d) (1977).

Israeli Actions: In response to Arab rebellion, Israeli Military takes massive action against entire Palestinian communities, for example destroying entire neighborhoods of homes, or confiscating communal farmlands, bulldozing homes, blocking off certain areas, or not allowing civilian populations to leave their houses for extensive periods of time. This is called collective punishment because it punishes entire communities for the actions of a few. ILRC article.

Illegal Massive Transformation of Local Laws

Laws Violated: Hague Regulations IV, Article 43 (1907).

Israeli Actions: Israel has created a dual legal system in the occupied territories – a democratic one linked to Israel for the Israeli settlements, and an oppressive, exploitive one for the Palestinian communities run by the Israeli military committees and Israeli-controlled civic administrations, replacing all Arab government functions with Israeli military committees, and dismissing or deporting all Arab government official. ILRC article.

Violations of U.N. Secutrity Council Resolutions

Laws Violated: Israel has violated 28 resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (which are legally binding on member-nations U.N. Charter, Article 25 (1945); a few sample resolutions - 54, 111, 233, 234, 236, 248, 250, 252, 256, 262, 267, 270, 280, 285, 298, 313, 316, 468, 476, etc.

Israeli Actions: Israel has violated many U.N. Security Council resolutions especially relating to its occupations, land annexations, military aggression, HR violations, etc... ILRC article.

Separation Barrier Ruled Illegal

Law Violated: International Court of Justice of 2004, in an advisory opinion, ruled the Israeli separation barriers illegal. They condemned the separation wall Israel is building throughout the occupied West Bank in a 14 to 1 ruling. The Court begins by citing, with reference to Article 2, paragraph 4, of the United Nations Charter and to General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV), the principles of the prohibition of the threat or use of force and the illegality of any territorial acquisition by such means, as reflected in customary international law. It notes that significant amounts of land are defacto annexed by the separation barrier. It further cites the principle of self determination of peoples, as enshrined in the Charter and reaffirmed by resolution 2625 (XXV). As regards international humanitarian law, the Court refers to the provisions of the Hague Regulation of 1907, which have become part of customary law, as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949, applicable in those Palestinian territories which, before the armed conflict of 1967, lay to the east of the 1949 Armistice demarcation ine (or “Green Line”) and were occupied by Israel during that conflict. The Court further notes that certain human rights instruments (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) are applicable in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It finds that the construction of the wall and its associated régime are contrary to the relevant provisions of the Hague Regulations of 1907 and of the Fourth Geneva Convention; that they impede the liberty of movement of the inhabitants of the territory as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and that they also impede the exercise by the persons concerned of the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living as proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Lastly, the Court finds that this construction and its associated régime, coupled with the establishment of settlements, are tending to alter the demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and thereby contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention and the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Israeli Action: The separation barrier built by Israel snakes it way though the West Bank, isolating Palestinians from each other, from their land, work, schools and health care. The wall confiscates significant amounts of land and annexes more land to Israel. The court said: The construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law.” “Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.” The court noted that significant amounts of the West Bank are, defacto, annexed by the wall. Link to International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion.


Much of this fact sheet was taken from the Israeli Law Resource center, with some sections verbatim. http://www.israellawresourcecenter.org/websitematerials/pdf/flyerinternationallaw1.pdf http://www.israellawresourcecenter.org/internationallaw/studyguides/sgil3.htm

Fourth Geneva Convention. This Convention was adopted in 1949 on the rules of war and the responsibilities of the occupying power. The Convention was adopted because of the abuses of the Nazi Regime during WWII. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256739003e636d/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5

International Court of Justice of 2004, in an advisory opinion, ruled the wall illegal http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&ca

Briefing by the Committee on the Elimination of Discriminations Against Women, Amnesty International 2005 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/037/2005/en/e51798ab-d4de-11dd-8a23-d58a49c0d652/mde150372005en.html

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