On May 27, 2021, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) convened a special session on Israel (since 2006, the Council called 9 special sessions focusing on Israel, out of 30 total, and more than on any other topic). The Council was to discuss “violations” allegedly committed by Israel since April 13, 2021 (relating to Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza, Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and mixed Israeli cities), to “place responsibilities on all business enterprises to respect human rights” by updating the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, and to establish a permanent Commission of Inquiry to investigate “all underlying root causes” of “recurrent tensions, instability & protraction of conflict including systematic discrimination and repression based on national, ethnic, racial or religious identity.” Resolution [A/HRC/S-30/L.1] passed 24 Yes, 9 No, and 14 abstentions.

During the session, numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) condemned Israel for allegedly committing “war crimes” and accused Israel of committing “crimes against humanity,” acting with “impunity,” and pursuing “colonial” policies; NGOs also called for sanctions and an arms embargo against Israel. Reflecting the intensification of the NGO “apartheid” campaign to advance a narrative of unparalleled Israeli immorality and to promote demonization through BDS and lawfare, this term was used repeatedly (read NGO Monitor’s report “NGOs Intensify Apartheid Demonization Campaign”).

The NGOs similarly urged the Council to initiate yet another Commission of Inquiry targeting Israel and pushed for cooperating with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation against Israel. NGOs actively encouraging and facilitating investigations targeting Israeli officials receive significant funding from foreign sources, mainly European governments.

Excerpts from NGO Statements

Al-Haq1 on behalf of Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR),2 Al-Mezan3, Addameer4, Defense for Children International –Palestine (DCI-P)5, Al-Dameer6, MIFTAH7, Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)8, Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC)9, Hurryyat10, Human Rights and Democracy Media Center “SHAMS11, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies, The Independent Commission for Human Rights, and Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

  • The announced-ceasefire does not end Israel’s institutionalised regime of racial oppression, domination and dispossession, embedded in Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid system imposed over the Palestinian people as a whole. Israel’s violence and oppression against the Palestinian people continues on a daily basis
  • We also urge you to support justice and accountability, including the ICC investigation and the annual updating of the UN Database.

Human Rights Watch

  • Call it what it is: for decades, Israeli authorities have imposed systematic and discriminatory repression in the Occupied Territory, including unrelenting land grabs, regular home demolitions, unchecked expansion of illegal settlements, and deliberate confinement of many Palestinians to under-resourced and overpopulated enclaves, in pursuit of a policy to maintain the domination of one racial group over another. That’s apartheid and persecution, and these are crimes against humanity.

Defense for Children International

(Donors include  European UnionItalyNetherlandsBroederlijk Delen (Belgium), Rockefeller Brothers FundSave the Children, and UNICEF)

  • Take urgent action to ensure accountability for violations by supporting efforts of the International Criminal Court to hold perpetrators accountable and by carrying out obligations under the Geneva Conventions or the Rome Statute to exercise criminal jurisdiction and arrest persons alleged to have committed, or who ordered to have committed, international crimes
  • Demand that Israel stops its apartheid system and its military attacks against Palestinian civilians in Gaza and West Bank

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

  • The root causes can no longer be ignored. We have been forcefully displaced, strategically fragmented and placed into a system of racial and ethnic domination. This is apartheid. This is a war crime.
  • A permanent investigation is required because we are in locked in a nightmare that has become permanently fixed – a prison where the guards bomb and kill whomever they want with complete impunity.
  • I plead with you to push for justice, and to hold the perpetrators accountable and stop Israel’s crime of apartheid against the Palestinian people.


(Donors include  Switzerland (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs), European UnionBroederlijk Delen (Belgium), Bread for the World-EED (Germany), Oxfam Novib (Netherlands), Christian Aid (UK), UNDP, and Open Society Foundation.)

  • These escalations come in the context of the 2018 Jewish Nation-State Basic Law, which enshrines in law the decades’ long systematic, institutional discrimination and domination over Palestinians

International Commission of Jurists

(Donors include: European CommissionGermanyFinlandIrelandUnited KingdomDenmarkNetherlandsNorwaySwedenSwitzerlandUnited States, United Nations, Medico InternationalMISEREOROpen Society FoundationsOxfamSigrid Rausing Trust, and Trocaire.)

  • As in the past, the conflict exacted a heavy toll on civilians taking no part in hostilities, including more than 65 slain Palestinian children. Unlike the past, those responsible must be held criminally accountable for these crimes.
  • This Council should call on all States to cooperate with the ongoing investigation of the International Criminal Court

International Service for Human Rights/ Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)

  • We therefore, urge this Council to, to recognize that Israel is practicing the crime of apartheid against the entirety of the Palestinian people, and support the resolution establishing an ongoing Commission on Inquiry to report on all violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the escalating attacks against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line since April 2021, and address the root causes of Israel’s institutionalized regime of racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)12 and the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC)13

  • The apartheid settler colonial policies pursued by Israel result in crimes against human humanity and other violations of the human rights of Palestinians.
  • The Human Rights Council must…Recommend an immediate and comprehensive arms embargo…Strengthen its scrutiny of Israeli and foreign companies that continue to benefit from the occupation, such as those with business ties to Israeli settlements.


(Donors include the European UnionNorwayGermanyIreland, United Nations Population Fund, and Oxfam Novib (Netherlands).)

  • The latest crackdown on Palestinians in ‘48, the West Bank, and Gaza clearly demonstrates Israel’s institutionalized policy aimed at maintaining its settler colonial and apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole.
  • We call on the Council to adopt the resolution establishing the Commission of Inquiry addressing the root causes of Israel’s settler colonialism and apartheid as a first step to accountability and justice.


  • There is now a ceasefire, and I hope this could be the beginning of an end to the institutionalized discrimination and systematic human rights violations that Palestinians suffer on daily basis, this which is the root cause of the cycle of violence.
  • This is why it is essential for the Human Rights Council to do its part to break the cycle of impunity that pervades. The international community must ensure an independent and thorough investigation parallel to and complementing the ongoing investigation by the ICC.