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(Hebrew: הפרדה‎, literally "separation” or, in Afrikaans, apartheid) is the official description of the policy of the Government of Israel to separate the Palestinian population in Palestinian territory from the Israeli population.[1] In Israel, the term is used to refer to the general policy of separation that the Israeli government has adopted and implemented over the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Many scholars and commentators have compared the word to the term "apartheid”[2] and by some that hafrada and apartheid are equivalent.[3]

Ilan Hal;evi writes:

It is significant that the Hebrew word used is hafrada [separation], which expresses the idea of an external action, of a coercive act, and not hipardut, from the same root, which refers to the notion of self-separation, that is, secession. Thus it really is apartheid in the most classic sense[4]

Ephraim Nimni notes:

The Hebrew term Hafrada is the official descriptor of the policy of the Israeli Government to separate the Palestinian population in the territories occupied by Israel from the Israeli population, by means such as the West Bank barrier and the unilateral disengagement from those territories. The barrier is thus sometimes called gader ha’hafrada (fence of separation) in Hebrew. The term Hafrada has striking similarities with the term apartheid, as this term mean ‘apartness’ in Afrikaans and Hafrada is the closest Hebrew equivalent.[5]

The Israeli West Bank barrier, (Hebrew: גדר ההפרדה‎ Geder Ha’hafrada, "separation fence”) the associated controls on the movement of Palestinians posed by West Bank Closures; and Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza have been cited as examples of hafrada. Aaron Klieman has distinguished between partition plans based on hafrada, which he translated as “detachment”; and hipardut, translated as "disengagement.”

Since its first public introductions, the concept-turned-policy or paradigm has dominated Israeli political and cultural discourse and debate.

In 2014, United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard A. Falk used the term in his "Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”[6]

See also Hafrada Wall under Separation Wall.

[1] David Pratt writes: "Even among Israelis, the term "Hafrada” – separation or apartheid in Hebrew – has entered the mainstream lexicon, despite strident denials by the Jewish state that it is engaged in any such process,” in "A Third Intifada?” Sunday Herald (28 May 2006), reprinted in Miftah, at: http://www.miftah.org/display.cfm?DocId=10408&CategoryId=5. Jeff Halper writes: "Hafrada (Apartheid in Afrikaans) is the official Hebrew term for Israel’s vision and policy towards the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories – and, it could be argued (with qualifications), within Israel itself.” in "Nishul (Displacement): Israel’s form of Apartheid,” Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (6 February 2007), at: 

[2] Fred Schlomka, "Toward a Third Intifada,” The Baltimore Sun (28 May 2006), republished by Common Dreams, at: https://web.archive.org/web/20130616133604/http:/www.commondreams.org/views06/0528-27.htm; James Bowen, "Making Israel Take Responsibility,” Haaretz (28 September 2006), at:


[3] David J. Smith and Karl Cordell, eds., Cultural Autonomy in Contemporary Europe, Association for the Study of Nationalities (New York: Routledge, 18 October 2013).

[4] Ilan Halevi, "Apartheid is not socialist,” Revue d’études palestiniennes, Vol. 22 (winter 2000), pp, 116–17.

[5] Ephraim Nimni, "National–Cultural Autonomy as an Alternative to Minority Territorial Nationalism,” Ethnopolitics, Vol. 6, Issue 3(2007), pp. 345–64, at:


[6] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard Falk, A/HRC/25/67, 13/01/2014, at: https://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/25/67.  

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