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50 Years of Occupation, 50 Years of Defiance

July 20, 2017, midnight

“The Palestinian people will continue to live in hope of liberation, peace and justice, believing that their pain and suffering has also produced their resilience. We will build our state on the principles of freedom and dignity and one day we will overcome."  Prof./Amb. Manuel Hassassian

Israel’s 50 year-long occupation of the Palestinian people and their land must end. The entire international community knows it must end but by doing nothing shoulders a large portion of blame for the ongoing suffering faced by 4.5 million Palestinians under direct occupation and all those in diaspora, a stateless people of 12 million in all. Israel’s violations of international law and abuse of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories carry on relentlessly and Israel will continue to act with impunity as long as governments around the world turn a blind eye to the ongoing occupation.

This lack of accountability allows Israel to threaten Palestinian lives, making them continually fear for their physical safety. Israeli occupying forces violently raid homes, make arbitrary arrests, forcibly displace families, carry out punitive home demolitions, inflict collective punishment and carry out shoot to kill policies. Israel illegally confiscates land and restricts Palestinian access to essential infrastructure and services and to livelihoods as well as access to Palestinian natural resources and farmland. It exploits 90% of all transboundary water resources. Since 1967, when Israel occupied the remaining part of historic Palestine after the Nakba and displaced 300,000 more Palestinians, destroying a further 100 villages, it has flouted international law and committed gross crimes as an occupying power. It has destroyed 48,000 homes, agricultural structures and places of business. It has imprisoned 800,000 Palestinians tried through closed military courts, implanted 650,000 illegal settlers on Palestinian land, 300,000 in East Jerusalem alone and built an apartheid wall ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice. It has currently erected 572 checkpoints and other obstacles to Palestinian movement, with more than 100, just in the city of Hebron, imposed a cruel and illegal siege and naval blockade of Gaza, subjecting 1.8 million Palestinians to a regime of collective punishment in an open prison. It has revoked residency rights of 250,000 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and 14,000 in East Jerusalem. This is what the occupation means for every Palestinian.

Peace, justice and prosperity for the Palestinians can only be achieved if Israel is held to account for its systematic violations of international law and its brutal occupation is brought to an end. The international community has a legal responsibility to do this under international law yet does nothing making itself guilty of complicity in Israel’s crimes. As long as this situation continues, Israel will continue with its no cost occupation. Governments, around the world, including the current government of the United Kingdom are to blame for the 50 year-long occupation and the suffering it has inflicted on the Palestinian people because they remain silent and refuse to put pressure on Israel to end its human rights abuses and end the occupation. The British government adds insult to injury with its plans, this year, to mark the infamous Balfour Declaration, the blue print for the establishment of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, among this same international community, there is a consensus that the only way to resolve the conflict and end the occupation is the creation of an independent Palestinian State which is not fragmented and has control of its own borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. UN Resolution 2334 which calls for the end of the occupation, the dismantling of Israeli settlements and the creation of a Palestinian State on pre-1967 borders has recently re-affirmed this, and is binding on the international community.

Palestinians will never lose their deep-rooted hope that the occupation will end, that they will have a state of their own and the refugees will return. All the suffering and injustice inflicted upon them by the Israeli occupation will never break their resilience and they will remain steadfast towards the fulfilment of their rights. They will defeat the occupation, they will defeat apartheid and live to see the days of justice, peace and prosperity in a country they will, again, call their own. Enough is enough! It is time to end the occupation and make it right for Palestine.

Thoughts of three young British Palestinians on what the occupation means to them:

“It feels like the world just looks on while a grown man beats a captive child, but the child’s spirit is unbroken.” Yousef

“There are not enough words in the world to express the hardship that the Palestinians are facing through every moment of their lives. To think that our brothers and sisters wake up to the sound of bombs and not to birds. To think that our children do not possess a paintbrush to paint their future or laughter to echo through the streets. As a British Palestinian It is my greatest disappointment to see the lives of others around me filled with colour whilst those in Palestine are faced with nothing but darkness. Let us remember that the freedom of humanity is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” Shahd

“It is so obvious to me that one of the greatest injustices in modern times is unfolding before our eyes. Yet the lies of its perpetrator and the apathy of the world will never defeat the spirit of the Palestinians and, whether in diaspora or under occupation, we will never tire of speaking truth to power.” Omar

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