This post was originally published in November 2006. We repost it here as part of our Palestine Week posts, marking the 65th anniversary of the Nakba.
The accusation that Israel is an apartheid state is not one of political rhetoric. It is an accurate use of the definition of apartheid, which is parallel social systems in the same land for different ethnic groups.
Let us look at roads in the occupied territories; here we see the construction of an entirely separate infrastructure of road building to connect the illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank with Israel and the illegally annexed city of East Jerusalem.
These roads are modern, and protected by walls or fencing to prevent Palestinians approaching them. In some parts of the West bank, the “wall” is a fence. Ththe following picture illustrates that it is not just a fence. There are motion detectors and CCTV cameras. The section of fence below protects the settler only road to the illegal colonists’ encampment at Har Homa. The picture shows two Palestinian persons on foot who had walked a few hundred metres from their homes in a Greek orthodox housing settlement just left of the picture (The Zionists are planning to demolish this Christian settlement in Bethlehem during the next few months – as they say it is too near the wall). As soon as these pedestrians came close to the wall, three vehicles appeared from Har Homa – presumably security personnel– and pulled up to intimidate them. Although it is hard to see in the picture, the Jews are armed with machine pistols – and they were not passers by, they came down from Har Homa just because a Palestinian was seen near “their” road. A road built on Palestinian land.
In addition, the wall is being used to systematically disrupt the transport infrastructure of the Palestinian economy. The following picture of the wall, built in Jerusalem, (considerable to the east of the “Green Line” – the 1967 borders) directly blocks the main Jerusalem to Jericho road. This road has existed for thousands of years, and is now completely blocked.
All Palestinian towns are being restricted to only one access road, which is controlled usually by 18 year old Israeli conscripts, who may capriciously grant or deny access at whim. The following photograph shows how the Zionists have blocked one of the roads into Hebron.
I met two women who had been stopped on their way to maternity hospitals. Jewish settlers of course would be whizzed to hospital unimpeded on their separate road system.
The Israeli army also uses the Palestinian roads, rather than the settler roads to move their armour. The heavy, tracked vehicles do enormous damage.
When the wall is built around the industrial town of Beit Fajjar, the Zionists are going to permanently block the current (already inadequate) tarmaced road, and the only route in and out will be via the following track, that is bare rock. (It looks white because it is covered in marble dust from quarrying)
The disruption and destruction of the Palestinian road system means that the cost of car ownership is higher for Palestinians than for the colonialist settlers. What is more, economic development for the Palestinians – we must keep reminding ourselves that this is all within the occupied territories of the West Bank – is being undermined. Whereas the illegal settlements are being bound into the Israeli economy by their developing road system.
This is two different economic systems for two peoples on the same land.
This is apartheid.