Desmond Tutu Israel Palestine Human Rights Apartheid
Archbishop Desmond Tutu gestures at the launch of a human rights campaign marking the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human RightsReuters

Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu has criticised Israel's policies towards Palestinians as "humiliating" and pledged his support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Tutu, the first black archbishop of Cape Town, compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the discrimination that black South Africans faced during the apartheid regime.

"I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces," the civil rights leader said in a statement.

"Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.

"In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors."

Tutu won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against white minority rule and apartheid in South Africa.

"The same issues of inequality and injustice today motivate the divestment movement trying to end Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian territory and the unfair and prejudicial treatment of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government ruling over them" he continued.

"Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

"It doesn't matter where we worship or live. We are members of one family, the human family, God's family."

The majority of Israeli citizens support the Lukid government's "apartheid policies" against both Palestinians and Israeli Arab citizens, who face discrimination despite holding most of the rights that Jews have within the state.

However 50 Israeli teenagers have refused to join the military because of the country's West Bank settlement policies, voicing their concerns in an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The 10th annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is being celebrated in 87 cities across the world and begins in South Africa this week.