People’s Rights Group (PRG), a rights based advocacy and lobbying group based in the UK particularly dealing with human rights violations in Sri Lanka, notes with extreme concern the deteriorating security situation in Jerusalem and Gaza due to military escalation initiated by the Israeli Government and the severe levels of Israeli aggression not seen since the 2014 Gaza War. PRG strongly condemns the resultant serious violations of human rights including desecration of Al Aqsa, the third most sacred sites for the Muslims, illegal settlement expansion, blockade of Gaza, and dispossession of Palestinian property as well as the loss of thousands of civilian deaths, in occupied Palestinian territories.
It is coincidental that the latest spat of Israeli aggression should happen, when the Palestinians are remembering Nakba- the devastating expulsion of their people from their lands in 1948, following the end of the British Mandate for Palestine, which led to Israel’s creation in its place. If these events tell the world anything about the catastrophe of 1948, it is that the Nakba has been ongoing for 73 years, as has been resistance to the violence. This has indeed been a war between the weak and the strong, the minority and the majority. an innocent and an oppressor. The grotesque spectacle of the world’s fourth largest military power once raining white phosphorous shells onto UN schools packed with refugees and how they respond with carpet bombing of Gaza, when Hamas sends them rockets amply demonstrates the excessive use of force.
Despite these Israeli violations, many countries appear to have issued ‘tough to lukewarm’ statements asking ‘both parties to exercise restraint’. In fact, the UN’s rights office recently urged Israel to call off any forced evictions and warned its actions could amount to “war crimes”, as East Jerusalem remains part of the occupied Palestinian territory, in which international humanitarian law applies.
Sadly however, all these calls are falling on deaf ears, and Israeli aggression continues regardless. It is really disconcerting to note that the international community has neither been able to stop the bloodshed and also Israeli impunity nor implement any of the UN Resolutions passed against the Israeli apartheid regime, to adhere to international human rights law, due to the unconditional support of powerful veto wielding countries. It is very unfortunate that the Israeli model is increasingly becoming a role model for apartheid as well as dictatorial regimes which habitually violate the human rights of their citizens to stay in power and thrive on anti-minority rhetoric. Further it has also emboldened such regimes suppress minority rights with impunity, as long as they enjoy the patronage of powerful nations and lobbies.
Be it as it may, PRG notes with much optimism, amid the gloomy spectacle of death in the Occupied Palestinian lands, the emergence of a major shift in many capitals around the world, including in the usually pro-Israeli ones, particularly among the people and the youth, rejecting the apartheid regime and the ethnic cleansing that is taking place in Palestine.
PRG laments that despite the build-up of global opposition against continuing Israeli violations including appropriation of Palestinian lands, and the complicity of powerful nations in it; despite new and organic calls for justice to the Palestinian cause, it is nothing short of a heinous crime that the world’s political leaders in general are letting yet another historic opportunity fall through their biased and partial responses. PRG nevertheless expresses hope and optimism that the right-minded world in particular and the international community in general will renew their solidarity with and support the rights of the Palestinians, who are continuing o face “ethnic, religious and cultural cleansing” in their relentless struggle against the tyranny and barbarism of the occupying forces of Israel.
As Nelson Mandela said ‘We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’, In extending our hands across the miles to the people of Palestine, we do so in the full knowledge that we are part of a humanity that is at one. All of us should do more in supporting the struggle of the people of Palestine for self determination’ (1997).