At least 86 unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since March 30, the day Palestinians launched a peaceful protest of the ongoing siege of Gaza and for the right to return to their homes from which they have been forcibly displaced. Among the dead are 12 children and two journalists. According to Grassroots International’s partner organization the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 6,106 Palestinian civilians have been injured since that time, including 860 children, 158 women, 54 journalists, and 29 paramedics.
In the US, we have a particular responsibility to stand up against violence by Israel, especially as our tax dollars provide significant funding for the Israeli occupation. In fact, the US government currently has committed to provide Israel with $38 billion in military aid over a ten year period – “the largest such agreement ever by the US with any other country” according to Al-Jazeera.
Take action with Grassroots International to demand an end to all US military funding to Israel, respect for Palestinians’ internationally recognized refugee rights, denounce Israel’s violent repression and support an independent investigation into the deaths of Palestinian protesters.
Below is an educational statement created by the Nakba Day organizing group in Boston (of which Grassroots International was a part) that provides background information to help frame the conditions in Gaza leading up to the protest.
What is the Ongoing Nakba?
Al-Nakba النكبة ( /ɛnˈnɛkbɑ/): Literally, “catastrophe.” Used to describe the dispossession of Palestinians that is part of Israel’s settler colonial project. 70 Years after the Nakba, the catastrophe continues.
Ethnic Cleansing. In 1948, 800,000 Palestinians became refugees. Tens of thousands more lost their homes. Palestinians lost 531 villages and many cities, like Jaffa and Lydda. Today, Palestinian villages like Al-Araqib and Um Al-Hiran in the Naqab (Negev Desert) in Israel are still being destroyed. Villages like Susiya and Al-Walaja in the West Bank are threatened, as well.
Dispossession. Today, there are over 7 million refugees who have the right to return to their homes, as guaranteed by UN Resolution 194 in 1948. Yet, Israel has prohibited from doing so. These refugees have endured poverty, discrimination, massacres, and wars.
Militarization. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have lived under military occupation for more than 50 years. There is no accountability under military occupation. This situation is so bad that in 2016 the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem stopped taking complaints to the military court.
Mass Incarceration. According to the human rights organization Addameer, one in five Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has been jailed since Israeli occupation began. Israel regularly arrests children, like Ahed Tamimi, who marked her 17th birthday in prison.
Walls of Separation. Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank contributes to the de facto annexation of Israel’s illegal settlements. It isolates farmers from their land and water. Along with checkpoints, the wall creates severe impediments to Palestinian movement.
Racism. According to the human rights organization Adalah, more than 65 Israeli laws discriminate against Palestinians, who are 20% of the population of Israeli citizens. Almost half of Israeli Jews favor the expulsion of Israel’s Palestinian citizens, according to a 2016 Pew poll.
Repression of Expression & Protest. In Israel, commemorating the Nakba is illegal. Hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested for Facebook posts. This month, the poet Dareen Tatour was found guilty of incitement and supporting terrorism for a poem. In the occupied territories and in Israel, Israel represses nonviolent protests and criminalizes Palestinian politics.
Siege. Palestinians in Gaza have survived 11 years of siege and three ferocious Israeli military attacks. During the last of these wars in 2014, 2,251 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians, and including over 500 children. That year alone, Israeli bombings damaged 73 medical facilities and destroyed 18,000 homes. Israel’s blockade has made it nearly impossible to rebuild.
The Great March of Return (an action which took place March 30-May 15) was a brave protest in Gaza that builds on decades of steadfast Palestinian resistance to Israeli rule. Two million people live in the tiny Gaza Strip, surrounded by electrified fences, military towers and other Israeli fortifications. 70 percent of them are refugees. For 11 years, Israel has imposed a tight blockade on the Gaza Strip, severely limiting the entry and exit of people and goods. The economy has all but collapsed. Gaza gets only a few hours of electricity a day. Raw sewage flows through the streets, and 97 percent of Gaza’s water is not drinkable. The UN has stated that Gaza will be « unlivable by 2020 if not sooner.” The Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has called Israel’s policy toward Gaza « incremental genocide. » Since March 30th civil society in Gaza has organized and sustained peaceful demonstrations called the ‘Great March of Return’ to demand an end to the siege and the right of return for refugees expelled from their homes inside Israel 70 years ago. Since the protests began, Israeli snipers have killed at least 109 unarmed protesters and wounded over 10,000. The lethal repression continues today.
How can you connect with Palestinian struggles?
- Check out Together We Rise by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights to draw connections between Palestinian struggles and those of Indigenous, Black, and brown communities impacted by US policies here and abroad as well as the Black Solidarity Statement With Palestine: “Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including the political imprisonment of our own revolutionaries.”
- Oppose US and Israeli police partnerships through the Jewish Voice for Peace Deadly Exchange Campaign and counter “the deadly falsehood that violence against some communities will create security for others.”
- Learn about & support the Palestinian campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions, a nonviolent movement for Palestinian rights.
- Ask your representatives to support the bill, « Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act » (H.R. 4391). Ask them not to support the « Israel Anti-Boycott Act » (S.720), which suppresses freedom of expression in the United States and undermines Palestinian nonviolent resistance.