Skip to main content

Former Israeli general compares treatment of Palestinians to 'Nazi Germany' and 'apartheid'

Amiram Levin says the Israeli army condones violence by settlers, which could make it liable for 'war crimes'
Palestinian women walk toward Israeli security forces manning a checkpoint blocking an entrance to the occupied-West Bank city of Hebron on 30 October 2022 (AFP)
Palestinian women walk towards Israeli security forces manning a checkpoint blocking an entrance to the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on 30 October 2022 (AFP)

A former top general in the Israeli military has said that Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank resembles Nazi Germany and is "total apartheid".

Amiram Levin, former head of the army's northern command, made the comments on Sunday on Israeli public broadcaster Kan. 

"There hasn't been a democracy there in 57 years. There is total apartheid," Levin said, referring to the situation in the West Bank.

He said the Israeli army was "forced to exert sovereignty there" and is "rotting from the inside". 

"It's standing by, looking at the settler rioters and is beginning to be a partner to war crimes. These are deep processes."

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Levin went further, comparing those processes to Nazi Germany. 

"It's hard for us to say it, but it's the truth. Walk around Hebron, look at the streets; streets where Arabs are no longer allowed to go on, only Jews," he said. "That's exactly what happened there, in that dark country."

Criticism of comments

The comments were condemned by lawmaker Danny Danon, who belongs to the ruling Likud party. 

"Those who compare us to Germany or the Nazi regime should be examined," Danon said. 

Levin, who was also a former deputy chief of the Mossad, had a military career which spanned from 1965 to 1998. 

Earlier this weekend, he made a speech at an anti-government demonstration in Tel Aviv in which he called on military leaders to stand up to Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, both of whom he said were "trying to drag you into war crimes".

As in South Africa, Israeli settler violence is central to apartheid
Read More »

Levin's views on Israeli abuses appear to have taken a marked turn: in a 2017 interview with Israeli daily Maariv, he claimed that Palestinians "deserved the occupation". 

Several human rights groups, including B'tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have in recent years determined that the term "apartheid" applies to the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last year, Michael Lynk, the UN's special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, said in a report that the treatment of Palestinians "satisfies the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid".

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the war in 1967.

The territory is home to around 2.9 million Palestinians. Around 475,000 Jewish settlers also live there in Israeli state-approved settlements, which are illegal under international law.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.