The State of Palestine has historically been under constant siege and occupation by Israeli forces since 1967. The UN recognizes Palestine as a sovereign state and, as of July 19th, 2019, 138 out of the 193 UN member states recognize the state of Palestine. On December 23rd, 2015, the UNGA passed a resolution demanding the sovereignty of Palestine over the natural resources that exist within the Occupied Palestinian territories. Since the occupation of Palestine, Israeli forces have constantly oppressed the Palestinian people and have committed many major human rights violations in the territory. What is worse is that the international community is aware of such heinous acts of crimes, yet it chooses to remain silent to the cries of oppression.
The crimes committed by Israeli forces against the Palestinian counterparts are numerous and extensive for all of them to be listed here. However, as of today, even amidst this global pandemic, Israeli Defense Forces have been bombing the Gaza strip for the seventh night straight in a row, in what they call “a fight against Hamas”. However, the only casualties in this nightly series of bombing are normal civilians as the bombings did not just target the Hamas facilities but also refugee camps such as the Bureij refugee camp, subsequently destroying many houses and public properties. The IDF has also closed Karim Abu Salem goods crossing with the Gaza strip and shut down the fishing zone of the Gaza strip. This has drastically affected the local economy as it has exacerbated the underlying conditions as more than half of the population of the Gaza strip live in poverty. Moreover, due to the closure of the crossing, the only power plant in Gaza is scheduled to shut down as it has cut fuel supplies.
Moreover, in the last year, Israeli forces have killed at least 215 Palestinians, 47 of which were children and 4 paramedics and 2 journalists. This came during the demonstrations against the US decision to establish a US embassy in Israel, thereby recognizing Israel as a sovereign state, that the Palestinians engaged in. Many such killings are reported about the Israeli forces when no imminent threat has been posed by the victims, from peaceful protests to checkpoints, to nightly air raids as is being carried out currently. Furthermore, Israel’s illegitimate occupation and blockade on Gaza strip’s sovereign airspace, land transportation and territorial waters since 2007 has posed severe health impacts to its two million citizens as it has impacted hospitals and other health services. Medicinal supplies are being deliberately withheld from entering the Gaza strip by the Israeli authorities which has drastically affected patients with cancer and other chronic illnesses.
Words are not enough to list their injustice towards the Palestinian demographic in the region. For the sake of conciseness in this article, I will not further delve into the myriad of crimes that they have systematically carried out against their Palestinian counterparts.
The Israeli PM, Netanyahu has expressed his intention to annex the Jordan valley during the 2019 elections and assured the pending annexation of all Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank. Such a move presents a clear disregard for international law. Moreover, Israel has also annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 and the Golan heights from Syria in 1981 which have been condemned countless times by the UN and the international community at large.
However, what has shocked us the most is the decision of the UAE to acknowledge Israel by establishing a peace treaty that allegedly claims that Israel would further stop the annexation of the West Bank. However, by doing so, the UAE has distanced itself from any responsibilities to the Palestinian cause. Even an unexperienced person in politics would say that Israel has no intention in removing its illegal settlements from the Palestinian territories and to grant independence to Palestine as it would threaten Israel’s peace of mind in the future. What then is the underlying motive behind this deal? For starters, Israel is the leading nation in R&D expertise in the region and exercises notable influence at the White House. It has many bleeding-edge technologies that would greatly benefit the UAE in its vision to reduce its reliance on oil and instead, shift its focus to knowledge based industries, thereby transforming the economy from being reliant on non-renewable resources. The UAE has secretly been conducting trade relations with the Israel over the past years as is evident when it sent aid packages to Gaza through Israeli facilities. The Israeli PM, Netanyahu, has clearly stated that it is withdrawal from the annexation plans are only temporary and that it does not need to leverage annexation to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors. To many supporters of the Palestinian cause, UAE’s decision serves as a stab in their backs as no one could have ever imagined such a thing coming from one of the most powerful and wealthiest Arab nations.
Thus, when the collective governments and nations around the world fail to do what is morally right, it is then up to us as citizens to protest for what is right. Trudeau has long remained silent since the day Netanyahu has unveiled his plans to illegally annex the Jordan valley and the west bank back in September 2019, before finally speaking out at June, by when it was already too late. The silence of the Canadian government on this issue proves that it is implicit in such crimes as “Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor”. As Muslims, Canadians, and as human beings, we cannot comply with oppression and injustice around the world while we sit back and relax. In face of such issues, while we as citizens don’t have the power to intervene in international politics, we can surely pressure our politicians to recognize such issues and to speak up against them. The Qur’an says, “ O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. ” (4:135)
As such the Advocacy Committee at Dalhousie Muslim Students’ Association (@dalhousiemsa) in collaboration with the Atlantic Canada Palestinian Society, Dalhousie Arabic Society (DAS), Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace (CAJJP), Independent Jewish Voices – Halifax (IJV-HFX), Human Rights Coalition and Free Palestine HFX is organizing a demonstration regarding this issue on the 22nd of August (Saturday) at the Victoria Park. While we are not able to do much, the Dal MSA’s Advocacy Committee will be working on lobbying efforts to our politicians to ask them to not keep quiet while such human rights violations occur and would appreciate your help in these efforts. Economic sanctions should be placed, as trade relationships between countries cannot be valued over human lives. It is sad to see a lack of salient intervention from the international community, especially from a peacekeeping country like Canada.
This event is a part of the global campaign, which have been held across many cities and nations in solidarity with Palestine against the Israeli annexation, CALL TO ACTION: Days of Resistance for Palestine by samidoun network. More details regarding this can be found in the below link: