73 Years of The Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe.

 Anam Javed

In 1947, the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine declared the division of Palestine into two states, an Arab Muslim state and a Jewish state of Israel. The decision facilitated a settler colonial state and was met with anger and resistance from the Arab world. The Zionists, however accepted the decision wholeheartedly and deemed Palestine to be the land promised to them in the Jewish holy scripture.

 Following the decision, approximately 260,000 Jews fled to Israel from across the world, to a place they began to call “home”. Owing to this decision, approximately 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes the following year, forcefully evacuated or massacred to colonise and repopulate the land with Jewish settlers  And thus began the “Nakba”, an event marking the Palestinian Exodus, in the midst of violence and the destruction of their ancestral homes in 1948. The “Nakba” – a word that literally translates into ”Catastrophe” in the Arabic language – was just that, an ongoing catastrophe that resulted in the mass expulsion and cleansing of the Indigenous Palestinians from their homelands. 

It has been 73 years and the Nakba persists as Palestinians are subjected to violence, military blockade and apartheid. The exact number of Palestinians murdered during The Nakba remains unidentified and various mass graves are found in what is now called the State of Israel. Palestinian land holds immense historical significance for both religions, Islam and Judaism. Israel, however, in an effort to establish control over all Palestinian territories, has continued to expand its borders by colonizing areas of the designated Palestinian land that were not a part of the initial partition plan laid out by the UN in 1947.

For almost a century, Palestinians have existed under a dire aparheid regime as a result of Israel’s Zionist ideology. Over the past decade, there has been a significant spike in inhuman crimes by Israel against Palestinians. Residential areas are bombed, buildings flattened to the ground burying families underneath, people massacred, including little children as Palestine is intentionally ethnically cleansed, breaking all international humanitarian laws.

According to recent data from Palestine’s Information Ministry, over 3500 children have so far been killed in Israel’s attacks on Palestinians over the last two decades. In 2009 alone, 1337 Palestinian children were killed by Israel. Survivors are often left orphaned, homeless or with a severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Over the past decade, there have been a series of heinous attacks on Palestine, especially in the year 2009, 2012 and 2014. In light of the recent uptick in Palestinian resistance to the illegal annexation of the Sheikh Jarrah residents in East Jerusalem, Israel embarked on a journey of relentless attacks at the lifeblood of the Palestinian cities; residential neighborhoods, media organizations, humanitarian institutes being amongst the targets. Driven solely by their desire to further oppress and subjugate the Palestinians under their violent colonial rule, Israel broke several International alws under the guise of self-defense.

With seemingly complete impunity from the UN, Israel has continued to commit war crimes sanctioned by World Leaders, including Joe Biden who approved an additional $735 million in arms in May. The President has reiterated his support for Israel, as it justifies their vicious attacks with claims to defend itself against Hamas, an Islamic  nationalist organisation in Palestine. In 2019 alone, the USA provided $3.8 Billion as Foreign Military Aid to Israel. However, statistics depict a striking imbalance in not only the power dynamic but also in the damage and casualties suffered on either side. One side is clearly backed by capitalist states who have vested interests in creating unrest and destruction in the Arab world. Palestine does not have an equal socio-economic status or funding from foreign parties to fight back as an equal, making it evident that Israel is the aggressor in this situation.

An emergency virtual meeting was called by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the May 16th, 2021, inviting leaders from the Muslim world to discuss the escalating situation in Gaza. Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif requested to expedite a legal and institutionalized campaign against the apartheid Zionist regime and Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi identified the attacks by Israel as a violation of Human Rights and international laws.

The High Council of Human Rights of Iran – an entity under the Supreme National Security Council currently headed by Judiciary Chief, Ebrahim Raisi and several other ministers – has formally appealed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to take action on genocidal acts and racial cleansing committed by Israel. The president of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan, called upon the world leaders to act against the heinous and unjustifiable attacks on the Palestinian people and promised that Turkey will stand with Palestine even if the entire world decides against it. In a virtual conversation with the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, He emphasized that every country witnessing this injustice in silence must prepare for a similar fate.

Iran also has spoken firmly against the Israeli barbarism against Palestinians. In a telephonic conversation between President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan, both leaders agreed to join hands in support of Palestine as they urged the UN and the OIC to fight the “crimes of the Zionist regime”. The Chinese State Councilor, Wang Yi has put forward a four-point proposal concerning the Palestine-Israel situation, pointing out that ceasefire and cessation of violence is the top priority and all parties, especially Israel, are urged to exercise restraint and stop hostilities immediately. Israel should exercise restraint, earnestly observe relevant UN resolutions, stop the demolition of Palestinian homes and the eviction of Palestinian people, discontinue its settlement expansion, put an end to violence, threats and provocations against Muslims, and maintain and respect the historical status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

The use of force and violence can never lead to peace. The silence and lack of action from the world, especially leaders of the Muslim world, is abysmal because it is only a matter of time until the next weak country is blatantly targeted. It is apparent that anyone choosing to remain silent during this genocide is making a choice – one that benefits only the oppressor. The silence of the Muslim world offers Israel even greater impunity for their atrocious crimes. As admitted by a former Israeli soldier, the main aim of these attacks is to break the spirit of Palestinians, instil crippling fear that resistance is no longer an option for them. Israeli missiles have targeted various high-rise buildings, including the Al-Jalaa tower that was home to many international media offices. It is an attempt to hinder free press and silence journalists working to paint a true picture of the Israeli crimes against humanity.

Currently there are 7.2 million Palestinian refugees forcibly and violently ejected from their homes. It is the largest refugee population in the world. The losses suffered by Palestinians are irreplaceable, but the world must find a way to prevent further damage. The United Nations, world leaders and OIC must collaborate to end this annihilation of humanity and devise a solution that upholds the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to live in peace in their ancestral land.

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