Israel enforcing apartheid in the West Bank, says former Mossad chief

Tamir Pardo's comments come a month after a retired Israeli general accused the state of war crimes

A Palestinian surveys the damage caused by an Israeli raid in Nur Shams camp in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Reuters
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Israel is enforcing a system of apartheid in the occupied West Bank, a former Mossad chief said on Wednesday, becoming the second former top official to condemn the occupation in recent weeks.

“There is an apartheid state here. In a territory where two people are judged under two legal systems, that is an apartheid state,” Tamir Pardo said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Mr Pardo, who served as the head of the intelligence agency from 2011 to 2016, said his views on the West Bank were “not extreme – it's a fact”.

His comments follow similar accusations from retired Israeli general Amiram Levin, who said the army is complicit in war crimes in the occupied West Bank.

Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967, controlling territory Palestinians envision as part of a future independent state.

Israeli actions in the West Bank this year have made 2023 the bloodiest since 2005, breaking last year's record.

More than 180 Palestinians have been killed this year, according to a tally by the Associated Press.

Near daily raids have affected the cities of Jenin and Nablus, where the army has sent Apache helicopters and drones to attack militants in densely populated areas.

A two-day raid on Jenin refugee camp in July, which killed 12 people and left much of the area in rubble, was widely condemned.

Mr Pardo said Israeli citizens can get into a car and drive wherever they want, excluding the blockaded Gaza Strip, while Palestinians cannot drive everywhere.

Israelis are barred from entering Palestinian areas of the West Bank, but can drive across Israel and throughout the 60 per cent of the West Bank that Israel controls. Palestinians need permission from Israel to enter the country and often must pass through military checkpoints to move within the West Bank.

He said he had repeatedly urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to decide on Israel's border demarcation.

“Israel needs to decide what it wants,” Mr Pardo said. “A country that has no border has no boundaries.”

The extreme right-wing cabinet, many of whom live in illegal settlements, has expanded Israel's occupation of the West Bank, with the government accelerating the construction of new settlements.

Updated: September 06, 2023, 8:06 PM