HRW Says Israel Operating Apartheid Regime in Palestine. It Must Now Do Kashmir

CJ Werleman
3 min readApr 27, 2021

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For the first time in its history, Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of operating a system of apartheid against the Palestinian civilian population in the Palestinian Territories.

It’s 213-page report, which was released on Tuesday, identified Israel’s dual policies, which are codified in its laws, for privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, thus arguing Israel had “crossed the threshold” into apartheid.

“The finding [in Tuesday’s report] is based on an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem,” the group said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which also accused Israel earlier this year of operating a “regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

Both organizations have accused Israel of allowing a “Jews only” immigration policy; Judaizing the area i.e. taking over land for Jews while crowding Palestinians in enclaves; restricting Palestinian’s freedom of movement; and denying Palestinian right to political participation.

In almost every way imaginable, the reality faced by Palestinians under Israeli military rule resembles that endured by the Kashmiri people under Indian military in Jammu and Kashmir, and thus Human Rights Watch should waste no time in moving ahead to scrutinize the latter.

While no one wishes to compare the suffering and misery of one to another, the people of Kashmir often make the point that whereas there are roughly 8,000 Israeli soldiers posted in the occupied West Bank to rule over 2 million Palestinians, representing one soldier for every 24 residents, India has deployed more than 700,000 soldiers to rule over 8 million Kashmiri Muslims, representing one soldier for every 11 residents.

This heavy handed militarization of Kashmir has produced more than 100,000 deaths, 7,000 custodial killings, 10,000 disappeared, 10,000 gang rapes and 100,000 buildings destroyed since 1989, along with thousands of unmarked mass graves.

During this same 30 year period, Israeli security forces and settlers have killed roughly 7,000 Palestinians, and turned Gaza into an unlivable hellscape.

When India stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status on 5 August 2020, it signaled the launch of its Hindu-settler-colonial project in the disputed territory, one modeled on Israel’s settler enterprise in the Palestinian West Bank, but one that promises to wash over an indigenous population far quicker.

India has since granted domicile certificates to 3.2 million Indian citizens, who are now free to settle and buy property and/or attain a job in the disputed territory, breaking from a seven decade long law that prevented non-locals from permanently residing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Indian military outposts are turning into Hindu settlements, and these settlements will eventually turn into towns and quasi-cities, the kind we now see in the occupied West Bank.

India has adopted a “Hindu only” immigration policy, thus Hinduizing the area i.e. taking over land for Hindus while crowding Kashmiri Muslims in enclaves; restricting the Kashmiri people’s freedom of movement and denying them the right to political participation and even the Internet.

In other words, India is operating an apartheid regime in Kashmir, the same way Israel is operating an apartheid regime in the Palestinian Territories, only with more ferocity and lethality.

Human Rights Watch should now produce a report on Kashmir.

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CJ Werleman

Columnist for Middle East Eye. Host of Channel The Rage. Activist against Islamophobia. Read more about CJ here: