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We mourn our dead on Nakba Day

May 15, 2018, midnight

Today is Nakba Day and the killing fields of Gaza where 58 Palestinians were shot dead yesterday, make every Palestinian remember what this means more acutely than ever. 70 years ago 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes by Zionist terror groups, creating the world’s longest running refugee problem. Israel declared statehood amid this violence and ethnic cleansing. We were forced out of our cities, town and villages, 400 of which were utterly destroyed. 4 million acres of our land was stolen. Yesterday, the protestors who were shot dead and maimed in Gaza are a product of this injustice. 80% of the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza are refugees and their descendants from 1948 as well as from Israel’s invasion and occupation of what was left of historic Palestine in 1967. They live in 25 mile long piece of land. It is known as the biggest prison in the world.

What makes a young Palestinian walk to a fence manned by Israeli snipers when they know they may lose their life? Is it, as the Israeli messaging is saying with the endlessly repeated mantra, that Hamas is inciting them do so? Or, is it not about, 70 years of oppression, dispossession and occupation? About a failed peace process which Israel sabotaged at every turn and used as a cover to build more illegal settlements and steal more land? Or about 11 years of a crushing blockade which makes life a misery. What makes that Palestinian walk to the fence? Isn’t because he/she has no hope, no future, no dreams, nothing to live for?

The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem at this highly sensitive time was the final straw. The shiny barbarism of Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu pontificating about peace and freedom was beamed across the world while images of dying Palestinians, articulating their alienable right to returnm provided the starkest contrast for all to see.

The Palestinians in Gaza are one of the most desperate examples of Palestinians under oppression. Today, on Nakba day, their voices are only being heard because they gave their lives. They have spoken for Palestinians everywhere. On Nakba Day, it is the 7 million refugees we remember. They live in 58 refugee camps, in blockaded Gaza, the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

No matter what Israel and the US do or say, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people can never be taken away. They will one day return to the land they were violently wrenched from as enshrined in UN resolution 194. The Great March of Return in Gaza was a symbolic metaphor for this. The Arab and Islamic world has unequivocally condemned the killings yesterday. The EU has also made condemnations. The British government, however, said it was ‘concerned’ for the loss of life and disproportionate use of force. When will Britain unequivocally condemn Israel’s actions and force it to comply with International law? The UK cannot ignore its historic responsibility to Palestinians. It should now make good and make this the last Nakba where young lives are lost.

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