What is happening in Palestine?
Illustration for Human Rights Pulse supporting an article written by Nadya Jamal
Gaza Has Survived Another Attack – Yet The World Continues A Raging Debate On Palestinian Human Rights
May 21, 2021
Back in 2012, the UN cautioned that the besieged Gaza Strip would be unliveable by 2020, barring immediate remedial action. The world’s largest open-air prison, has been under an inhumane blockade of sea, land, and air for 14 years and all Palestinians have been living under a crushing Israeli occupation since 1948. Life under occupation in Gaza, during a global pandemic, was already crumbling before the latest round of Israeli air raids began to rain down. Human Rights Watch (HRW) finally acknowledged in its 27 April report what Palestinians have been describing for generations. The report describes how Israeli authorities “have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity.…. these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution”.
Israel has continued expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. The holy month of Ramadan saw massive protests in Occupied East Jerusalem against the violent expulsion of families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. In violent crackdowns at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, hundreds of Palestinian worshippers were injured by Israeli forces. As protests erupted over the unlawful expulsions in Sheikh Jarrah, there were countless reports of mobs of armed settlers and in some reports, settler militia terrorising Palestinian families while Jerusalem police and security forces provided cover and support to the armed settlers. The irony that police were brutalising an already oppressed community and enabled their further dispossession is not lost on Palestinians, just like it is not lost on Black communities standing up against state sanctioned police brutality.
Though news of a ceasefire was welcomed around the world, in its eleven days of relentless air strikes Gaza has suffered great losses.
243 Palestinians lost their lives while 1900 were wounded.
This includes 38 women and 66 children. That is 44% of the Palestinians killed in Gaza.
It has been being reported that at least fifteen Palestinian families have lost multiple family members. In a harrowing parallel, during the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, in 50 days, the UN reported 142 families were wiped out.
Nearly 450 buildings in the densely populated Gaza Strip have been destroyed or badly damaged.
Buildings that have been struck by Israeli missiles include refugee camps, an orphanage and a high school.
Six hospitals and nine primary-care health centres have been impacted. The Palestinian Ministry of Health offices have been hit, which housed Gaza’s main coronavirus testing laboratory. All coronavirus testing in Gaza has been halted.
Israeli airstrikes have killed at least two of Gaza’s senior doctors, including Dr Ayman Abu al-Ouf, in an attack on his family’s home. Dr. Abu al-Ouf was overseeing the Covid-19 response in Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital.
A Palestinian radio journalist, Yusuf Abu Hussein was killed in an attack on his home in a residential tower.
Over 58,000 Palestinians have been displaced in eleven days. This is hard to fathom as majority of Gaza residents are already refugees mostly from the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 which led to the ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians.
There are 12 people dead as a result of Hamas rockets in Occupied Palestine, also known as Israel.
The dead are too many to count for a people who continue to mourn the 1948 Nakba. And yet, we have to remember every single Palestinian life lost.
Human rights groups including B’Tselem have called Israel’s tactics tantamount to war crimes. Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the human rights group B’Tselem, claims the findings of their recent report titled “This is Apartheid” show that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is not complicated. “Believe your eyes. Follow your conscience. The reason that it looks like apartheid is simply because it is apartheid”.
Noura Erakat, Palestinian American lawyer and professor has powerfully explained further;
What I want to emphasize about Israel’s use of force is, within the framework of jus ad bellum, Israel does not have the right to self-defence against a population that it occupies. It cannot usurp enforcement, law enforcement power from the native population, impose a siege, govern the airspace, govern the seaports, govern the perimeter, govern entrance and exit, govern how much caloric intake Palestinians have — and then shoot missiles onto a besieged population. It cannot do both. This has been established by legal scholars, such as Christine Gray, on the law of self-defence. It is an old trope that was condemned in the 1970s, when Portugal, South Africa and Israel tried to claim the right to self-defence in order to protect its colonial territories. You cannot dominate another people and then use the claim of self-defence in order to protect that domination. Israel is not protecting itself or its citizens. It is protecting its domination. It is protecting its occupation.
She has called for the siege on Gaza to be lifted “as a bare minimum” in the aftermath of what comes after this assault.
The occupation is exhausting to witness, and yet it is over twice my age, and it is hard to fathom that there are grandmothers alive today who are older than the Israeli occupation. If they are resisting, we must keep resisting.
Nadya has an MA in Human Rights from SAS, University of London. She has worked with communities experiencing systemic poverty and homelessness in Vancouver, BC over the last ten years. Nadya is interested in decolonizing cultural and social justice spaces through writing. Nadya believes that art and food are spiritual experiences and is always on the lookout for good chai and parathas in Vancouver.