15th May is annually commemorated across the globe as Nakba Day or Yawm an-Nakba, meaning “Day of the Catastrophe.” This catastrophe occurred over historic Palestine and all Palestinians during Israel’s so-called “War of Independence” before and after the establishment of the State of Israel. The Nakba still continues. For the Palestinians it is an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. During the 1948 Palestine War, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled, and more than 450 villages were destroyed. The villagers were removed from their homes, cities and land into exile or were internally displaced. These refugees and their descendants number in millions, divided between Jordan (2 million), Lebanon (427,057), Syria (477,700), the West Bank (788,108) and the Gaza Strip (1.1 million), with at least another quarter of a million internally displaced Palestinians in Israel. The displacement, dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people are known to them as an-Nakba.
The “conflict” between the State of Israel and Palestinians is not merely about people with histories of animosity. Today the conflict is one between the oppressors and the oppressed. The crime of oppression has names in international law and in morality: Colonialism, Apartheid, Occupation and Ethnic Cleansing. (Ref: Kairos Palestine) The Nakba continues incrementally ever since. Almost seventy percent of Palestinians live either in the diaspora outside historic Palestine or in refugee camps, in Gaza and the West Bank, or, as internally displaced within Israel’s ‘Green Line’. The Green Line is the 1949 armistice line which became Israel’s boundary line. Brutal, systemic, ethnic and race-based discrimination is perpetrated daily against Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The theft of water and property, destruction of houses and wells, confiscation of village springs, forced removal of communities, imprisonment without trial, and illegal appropriation of land and the building of Jewish settlements are daily experiences.
Gaza remains locked in a life-killing blockade. The so-called “Security Wall” is an Apartheid Wall: a means of land theft, humiliation, oppression and creating a physical division between Israeli Jews and Palestinians and between Palestinians. Ultimately it is a means of dispossessing land. The Palestinian people also have an internationally agreed Right of Return of exiles, displaced and dispossessed people. Jewish people from all over the world (with no direct personal link to the country) are granted the right of land and of citizenship of Israel with all the preferential political, social and economic benefits. It is a terrible irony that at this time of Israel’s founding, Jewish people in Europe who had not been killed in the Holocaust were themselves refugees.
Apartheid is not dead and buried: not in South Africa and not in Israel. Apartheid is also globally supported and justified. Why does this continue if International Humanitarian Law regards systemic racial discrimination – Apartheid – as a crime against humanity? The same crime by a different actor and different motive does not make it right or less of a crime or no crime at all. Apartheid is Apartheid. Complete ethnic cleansing is essential to Israel’s apartheid project. The motive is to occupy and gather land. Systemic destruction of Palestinian society, culture and even to remove memories of history form part of the Palestinians’ ethnic cleansing. With the recently adopted Jewish Nation State Law, exclusive privileges for Israeli Jews have had to be established and consolidated in all of historic Palestine under terms such as “Judaization.” The USA is the biggest supporter for Israeli occupation, as they have recognized the occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and shifted their embassy from Tel Aviv.
It is high time to rise together against the Israeli Apartheid and their occupation of Palestine lands and oppression of Palestinian brothers and sisters. Israeli military is trying hard to stop the peaceful demonstrations of the ‘Great March of Return’ with its genocidal weapons. They normally exacerbate their attacks on Gaza in every Ramadan, as of now we see its worst kind. As we saw, the first prayers of the month of Ramadan began with rocket shelling in the background. The Palestine people inside and outside the occupied territories are pleading for genuine solidarity and support. On Nakba Day, we must come forward to pressurize the global community as well as the countries to stand with the demands of Palestinian people in order to assure them of a free Palestine in the near future.