Today, as the Palestinian people commemorate the Nakba day, Palestinians continue to raise their voices against Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime.
The Gaza Strip is indiscriminately attacked in an Israeli military offensive, more than 126 Palestinians, including 31 children, have been killed, as of 14 May 2021 at 10:00 pm, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Across Palestine, over 1,500 Palestinians have been injured by the Israeli occupying forces’ systematic and excessive use of force, including during peaceful demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah, and against worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque, amongst others. More than 923 Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated and live ammunition, tear gas inhalation, and sound bombs and 14 were killed by the Israeli occupying forces in the occupied West Bank since 8 May 2021.
Palestinian citizens of Israel were violently repressed and arrested by Israel’s police during demonstrations in various Palestinian cities inside the Green Line, and were also targeted for racist incitement of violence and hate crimes.
Oppression and repression occurring all over the lands of Palestine as it pre-existed the creation of Israel, is only reminding the world, today, that the wounds of the Nakba 1948 are still to be healed. The Nakba did not end in 1948, it only began.
Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist forces destroyed at least 531 Palestinian towns and villages, and perpetrated the killing of some 15,000 Palestinians, in at least 70 massacres.
Out of 1.4 million Palestinians, between 750,000 and 900,000 became refugees or internally displaced persons after having been forcibly transferred from their homes and their lands.
The Palestinian people still bear the marks of the Nakba. Today, more than 13.05 million Palestinians are scattered around the world, 4.91 million living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), 1.57 million still live in the territory that became Israel in 1948, and 6.567 million in exile and diaspora.
As we commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, every Palestinian remains at risk of forcible transfer. Embedded in Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime, Israel continues to implement its unlawful policies and practices against Palestinians, including through the appropriation of natural resources, denial of residency rights, home demolitions, and discriminatory planning and zoning. Israel’s arsenal of apartheid tools operates to reinforce a coercive environment for Palestinians, wherever they are.
After 73 years of Nakba, the apartheid mechanisms that foster current forcible displacement are only inherited by those upon which Israel was created in 1948. Eight families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem, face an imminent risk of the forcible eviction of their homes, to the benefit of a Jewish-Israeli settler organization, Nahalat Shimon International, claiming property ownership.
The same discriminatory 1950 Absentees’ Property Law that prevented the return of Palestinian refugees and ensured their systematic expropriation, continues to be invoked to dispossess and forcibly transfer Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods, amongst other areas, in contravention of international law.
The Zionist dogma upon which the Nakba has been operating until today is that of the forcible transfer of the Palestinian people through the entrenchment of Israeli-Jewish domination, and their erasure and replacement with a foreign settler community.
The struggle of Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah is only an example of such a gradual land grab for the benefit of Israeli-Jewish communities. In July 2020, the Israeli government had sought to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank, in violation of international law.
As Israel launched a campaign of bombardment in Gaza, the Knesset preliminarily approved a bill to legalize some 70 colonial settlement outposts in the West Bank.
That Palestinian refugees and the internally displaced have a collective right of return to their homes and property is firmly entrenched under international human rights law that has been steadily reaffirmed by numerous United Nations resolutions, including Resolution 194 of the United Nations General Assembly (11 December 1948).
Still, the international community has failed, over the last 73 years, to command respect for United Nations Resolution 194, Palestinian refugees’ right of return, property restitution, and compensation. While repression has attained an unprecedented level, the international community cannot remain silent and continue to provide legitimacy and impunity to Israel’s apartheid regime.
The decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court to affirm the Court’s full territorial jurisdiction over the occupied Palestinian territory provides a critical opportunity to redress 73 years of forcible transfer policies and practices.
Under the Rome Statute, forcible transfers of the population constitute war crimes, and an inhumane act of apartheid, as a crime against humanity.
Accountability for Israel’s crimes must be pursued with respect to avenues provided by international law.
Israel’s blatant violations of international law and its suppression of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination are the most conspicuous illustration that the Zionist project is a failed colonial enterprise.
73 years of ongoing Nakba did not succeed in erasing the Palestinian people, their unity and attachment to their lands, from collective memory.
73 years on, and the Palestinian people as a whole continue to be steadfast, collectively demonstrating and advocating for their right to be, and that the world cannot look aside.