This year’s Nakba Day marks 73 years since Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes, turning them into the largest displaced group at the time nearly overnight – AFP
By The Embassy of the State of Palestine
The 73rd anniversary of Nakba Day was on the 15th of this month and came amid a massive devastating offensive against the Gaza Strip, resulting in seven consecutive days of slaying of 197 Palestinian civilians including 58 children below the age of 18, and 34 women in addition to injuring more than 1,225, mostly critical.
In the West Bank clashes between Palestinian’s civilians with the Israeli occupation forces resulted in 21 being shot dead with live Israeli bullets in addition to injuring more than 4,363 people including the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood east of the occupied Jerusalem city, the Capital of Palestine, where the Israeli occupation authority is trying to forcibly evict eight families, in 27 homes, comprising nearly 450 members, to let illegal settlers to move in.
This new round of escalation, which the State of Palestine has repeatedly warned and communicated with the international community that this explosive situation in occupied Jerusalem will further escalate and lead to more violence, on the ground has triggered mainly in Sheikh Jarah town due to the Israeli measures forcibly evacuating a number of its inhabitants.
In a systematic policy since 1967, the Israeli occupation deliberately ensnared Sheikh Jarah with illegal Israeli settlements, excising it from the other Palestinian cities, and creating a coercive environment for Palestinian families to simply exist. In tandem, over the holy month of Ramadan, the Israeli extreme settlers backed by the Israeli Police have carried out, on a daily basis, attacks on the Palestinian worshipers observing the holy month, and the Orthodox Easter, where 300 people were wounded, forcing the Palestinian resistance factions including Hamas in the Gaza Strip to react, to which the Israeli forces responded massively with numerous airstrikes destroying houses, including five high rise buildings, not to mention the number of casualties among civilians.
So, in this round of escalation, it is the Israeli occupation forces to be blamed, who have created this environment of oppression, aggression, and forcible family evictions using all of its military arsenal from water cannons to warplanes and drones.
It should be clear that the displacement of Palestinian families is a war crime under the Rome Statute. Between 2017 and 2020 only, around 15 households, comprising 62 Palestinians, were forcibly displaced from Sheikh Jarrah; none of this is out of the ordinary, but rather part of a systematic and deliberate plan to create facts on the ground, to displace the Palestinian people and replace them with illegal settlers, with the purpose or effect of manipulating the demographics of the occupied city and its legal status.
Israel’s violations and crimes in the occupied territories are a threat to regional and international peace and security which require the international community to urgently act; in light of this steep escalation, the Palestinian leadership has called on the Security Council, Arab League, and Organizations of Islamic Cooperation to convene in order to form an international pressure to compel Israel to immediately stop committing additional heinous crimes against our innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jerusalem City, the Capital of Palestine.
Under this critical situation, the Palestinian leadership has renewed its demand of providing all forms of protection for residents of Jerusalem and the rest of the Palestinian territories, with the necessity for hinting to Israel that these international community countries would reconsider their relations with them if Israel continued to ignore their repeated calls and appeals to stop committing crimes against the Palestinian people and to commit to international laws as an occupation state.
Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, urged in a meeting on 16 May for the member states of OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) to form an international front to confront the ongoing Israeli war crimes against our people.
Speaking before the emergency meeting of the Executive Committee at the level of Foreign Ministers of OIC, al-Maliki said that this front shall be seeking action against Israeli war crimes in the UN Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, and international courts.
He stressed the importance of forming this front to hold the Israeli occupation accountable, impose economic and political sanctions, and confront any party that supports Israeli war crimes. He said accountability of Israel would include demanding the implementation of commitments and United Nations resolutions, the most recent of which is Security Council Resolution 2334, and urgently prohibiting the work of companies working with settlements.
It should be clear that the Gaza Strip is one of the most densely-populated areas in the world, where Israel is committing war crime of collective punishment against the civilians and violating their right to live, freedom of movement, health, among many others. Under the pretext of targeting military places, the Israeli ground and air forces have targeted a number of high-rise buildings in addition to homes, forcing hundreds of peoples to be in the streets or taking to UNRWA schools as shelters, even though these shelters are not safe enough for the people because they have been targeted by Israeli air forces as it has happened during 2014 Gaza war. Israel’s aggression must be placed and understood in the larger framework of Israel’s colonial occupation and continued oppression of the Palestinian people.
Israel’s illegal policies also include attacks on hospitals, medical centres, markets, infrastructure, including those essential to the survival of the population, forced displacement, the obstruction of the humanitarian work, the razing of entire neighbourhoods – all these aggressions have been carried not only during this 2021 offensive but also implemented in the previous onslaughts against Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014. So Israel’s claims of self-defence are complete fallacies and wrong and misleading.
The Palestinian people are under occupation and colonisation. They are fighting against racial discrimination and apartheid. From this situation derive specific obligations and responsibilities on Israel, as occupying power, to protect the occupied people and act in their best interest.