The United Nations observes 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, the same date in 1947 on which the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine.
Based on that resolution, in May 1948, Israel was declared an independent state with David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, as prime minister.Weeks prior to Israel’s declaration of independence, on April 9 terrorist Israeli gangs –Irgun and Lehi- carried out massacres in the village of Deir Yasin, a Palestinian village of roughly 600 people near Jerusalem. Some of the Palestinians died in the course of the battle, others while trying to flee or surrender. A number of prisoners were executed, some after being paraded in West Jerusalem. In addition to the killings and widespread looting, a number of cases of mutilation and rape were reoprted.
News of the atrocities sparked terror among Palestinians, leading them to flee their homes.Commonly referred to as the ‘Palestinian exodus of 1948’, the exodus saw more than 700,000 Palestinians –about half of prewar Palestine’s Arab population– flee or expelled from their homes. The exodus, dispossession and displacement of Palestinians, is also known as the Nakb. Ariel Sophia an American anthropologist records in her publication ‘The architectural Cleansing of Palestine’ (March 2016) records between 400 and 600 Palestinian villages were destroyed and others subject to Hebraization of Palestinian place names.
Nakb also refers to the wider period of the war itself and the subsequent oppression up to the present day. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there are today over 79.5 million people around the world who have been forcibly displaced -the highest figure ever recorded. Israel has also occupied the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. To date Israel continues to illegally occupy these territories, expel the Palestinian population and construct settlements exclusively for Jewish Israelis on land owned by Palestinians. ‘State Business’ an Israeli publication reveals, since occupying the West Bank in 1967, Israel has illegally appropriated over 2 million dunams (200,000 hectares) of Palestinian land and Israel has built more than 280 settlements in the West Bank. The settlements have now become home to more than 440,000 Israeli settlers. The settlements occupy hundreds of thousands of sq. metres of land from which Palestinians are barred.
This does not include twelve neighbourhoods (outposts) Israel built in the areas it annexed to Jerusalem. The around 150 outposts are not officially recognised by the state. These outposts were built over the past three decades and are referred to as farms. Palestinian lands have also been expropriated via issuing military orders declaring the areas ‘state land’ ‘firing zones’ or ‘nature reserves’. An example of this action is typified at the Israeli settlements of Shilo and Eli. Palestinian farmers have been denied access to at least 26,500 dunams of land. In the Nokdim area, they have been barred access to at least 10,000 dunams. Other lands have been forcibly taken over by Israeli settlers through acts of violence and intimidation including attacks on Palestinians and their property.Again since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, it has imposed discriminatory water-sharing agreements that prevent Palestinians from maintaining or developing their water infrastructure. In addition, Israel also prevents Palestinians from accessing the Jordan River and using its water.
Citing security needs Palestinians have been corralled into ever-shrinking bantustan-style enclaves which lack basic amenities. Though Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians range from actions which could be termed ‘War Crimes’/‘Crimes Against Humanity’ and are well-documented even by different arms of the UN system itself, the world body has been unable to take any effective action to stop the
America, via the UN Security Council, continuously blocks any action by the world body to force Israel to withdraw from its occupied territories.If the UN is to remain true to its founding principles, it needs to take decisive action to bring an immediate halt to the oppression of the Palestinians by the State of Israel.In an earlier era too the US supported the apartheid regime in South Africa protecting that regime at the United Nations via the veto it wields at the Security Council. However, world opinion and justice prevailed at that time and the apartheid regime in South Africa was changed. It is now time, to either with or without UN support, to challenge the US veto and end the ‘apartheid’ practiced in Palestine.
Disclaimer: Apartheid by any other name is just as bad - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view