Sumayya Omar | 08 March 2016
Pic: @AyeshaTape (twitter), UCT, Jammie Plaza, Upper Campus
Nearly 70 years ago a new state by the name of Israel was created through forceful occupation of Palestinian lands and genocidal attacks on the people of Palestine.To date, Israel claims to be the best democracy in the Middle East; a Zionist nation who cleverly exploited the guilt and sorrow of world leaders through the United Nations. The creation of apartheid Israel was premised on the unfair distribution of Palestinian land. Almost 70 years later, the world silently accepts the creeping of Israel into our literature and history, whilst Palestinian history, culture and people are slowly being wiped out of existence.
On the 9th of July 2004, the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled against Israel’s criminal and thug like actions on innocent Palestinians with regards to building a separation wall. The ICC found the actions of apartheid Israel to be in clear violation of Palestinian human rights and human rights law. The solution proposed by the ICC was for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to establish a programme of action regarding the ending of the illegal construction of the wall. In essence the ICC rulings stated: “Israel is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated”.
A decade has passed since the ICC rulings and Israel continues to promote itself as an apartheid state with its illegal presence over Palestinian land and lives. The Zionist regime has started a slow and painful process towards the destruction and near extinction of Palestinians. As if they are rewriting history, replacing Palestine with Israel – culture and people.
In 2008, Richard Falk was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT’s) since 1967. After his fact finding mission in 2012, he called upon the UNGA and civil society to take effective action against Israeli businesses and international businesses that have been happily profiting from illegal Israeli settlements. Some of these settlements are situated in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which has been “established in clear violation of international law”. In Falk’s findings, he uncovered Israeli ownership of settlements in the West Bank to be over 40%. Subsequently permitting over 500 000 Israeli citizens to live within Palestinian territories.
In 2014, Makarim Wibisono,was appointed as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT’s) since 1967. Earlier this year, Mr Wibisono handed his resignation, regrettably stating how Israel denied and refused him access into the OPT’s. He further regretted his inability to improve Palestinian lives, highlighting the ‘lack of effective protection of Palestinian victims of continuing human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law’.
Today the Palestinians refugee crises accounts to 10% of the world wide refugee tally. Some who reside in camps outside Palestine are denied the right of return. Israel has banished them to a life of statelessness. And what is there to return to? A life subjected to ongoing racism and laws which threaten their basic human rights?
International humanitarian law continues to be flagrantly disregarded as the Israeli army has rampaged through Palestinian populations in attacks disguised as ‘Operations’. In 2014, the Israel Defence Force unleashed a lethal operation called ‘Protective Edge’ resulting in over 2 200 people being massacred. More than 10 000 people were wounded including 3000 Palestinian children. 20 000 Palestinian homes were destroyed.
In November 2012, Israel launched ‘Operation Pillar of Cloud’ on Gaza, causing the destruction of 196 residential units which housed 1,229 people. Similarly in 2009, ‘Operation Cast Lead’ caused $1.9 billion of material damage.
Fatalities and infliction of torment on Palestinian seems endless.
Here are a few facts of the ongoing crises:
- There is an 800km wall, 8m high, running along the West Bank. This wall divides Palestinian communities and isolates the Palestinians into various ghettos (similar to the Bantustan system of apartheid South Africa).
- In the West Bank alone, there are close to 700 checkpoints.
- Gaza (or rather the open air prison) is 45km long and 12-14km wide. It accommodates 1.8 million Palestinians who live under a daily siege.
- Palestinians within Palestine are denied freedom of movement and association, each Palestinian is given a permit, permitting them with a short range of freedom within their home cities (similar to the ‘dompas’ system of Apartheid South Africa).
The Palestinian plight is not a fallacy, it should not be ignored. We ought to be vigilant as it is occurring on our watch. Starting from the 7 March 2016 freedom, justice and equality will be echoed from South Africa to Canada, Canada to Norway and Norway to England as these and other countries will be hosting the 12th International Israeli Apartheid Week (#IAW / #IAWSouthAfrica). It is one week of activism for Palestine, pledging our commitment to raise awareness of the Palestinian plight and freedom.
This year #IAW is trending in over 250 cities worldwide. South Africa will be the host of 200 events (of which 20 South Africa universities will be participating). Within South Africa over 85 organisations have endorsed #IAW. For more information about how to get involved or the different events, contact BDS South Africa (website: www.bdssouthafrica.com or Facebook: Israeli Apartheid Week South Africa).
Omar is an active member of BDS South Africa.