As a group of us from Grassroots’ staff participated in an action to support a divestment campaign targeting corporations that profit from the occupation of Palestine, the words of our Palestinian partner echoed in my ears and heart: We have no right to give up.
If those on the ground in Palestine receiving the blunt force of indiscriminate and collective punishment from Israel refuse to wallow in despair, how could we? Instead, we joined an action that was part of a month-long series of worldwide protests of the Israeli occupation. Ours – and so many others’ – occurred on July 9 to commemorate the 10 long years since the International Court of Justice ruled that the Separation Wall built deep into Palestinian territory is illegal. We had planned to protest today long before the tragic and unjustifiable killing of three Israeli teenagers. Since the day the teenagers disappeared, Israel unleashed a ferocious spasm of both state-sponsored and vigilante terror on Palestinians with hundreds of arrests, numerous home demolitions, and an ever rising number of dead, including children and women. Each day brings news of bombings in Gaza and plans to invade by land. The action today was also a chance to mourn all those who have been killed, both recently and over the decades. As the Middle East Monitor reports, one Palestinian child has been killed by Israel every three days for the past 14 years. This most recent spate of violence is part of an ongoing repression of Palestinians in an occupation which kills Palestinian children and teenagers every single day. At Grassroots International we believe that the occupation is fundamentally about resources—namely, land and water. But make no mistake: the virulence with which Israel is willing to fight to completely control those resources knows no bounds. As a result, Palestinians today are facing collective, escalating punishment for three tragic murders that are being lost in the smoke of bombs, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Today I could quote numbers: how many dead, how many bombs, how many arrests. But others have done that, and tomorrow, the numbers will have risen. Raji Sourani, the director of Grassroots’ partner the Palestinian Center for Human Rights wrote to me last week and said,
The situation is really bad, unprecedented, we are very skeptical, and most importantly, I believe the worst is yet to come. For the first time with all what is going on, Israel has a free hand against civilians, with full support and endorsement by the US and Europe, this collective punishment, the mass arrests, cracking down on people all over West Bank, having Hebron under siege and curfew, the biggest city in the West Bank. All this while Gaza is still under siege, no movement for goods and individuals at all, daily bombing, nights at Ramadan no one able to sleep and two million scared to death from the nightly bombing. This is too much!
Raji ended his letter by saying, “We have no right to give up.” We have no right to give up, because if we do, all this suffering will have been for nothing. Every day, the movement to end the occupation in Palestine gains strength as more and more people see clearly the injustice playing out at sickening speed before our eyes, as more and more institutions divest their resources from corporations that profit from occupation. Some days as we watch with a feeling of helplessness as Palestinian civilians are terrorized, traumatized, and killed, we feel hopeless. But if we keep committing ourselves to actions, including divestment, this unjust occupation must, and will somehow come to an end. For those of us in the United States whose tax dollars are paying for the bombs, we have no choice but to remember Raji’s words. We have no right to give up.