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The worst, longest occupation in history

Feb 26,2019 - Last updated at Feb 26,2019

This week, the Israeli government approved the illegal construction of 4,416 housing units on occupied Palestinian lands around East Jerusalem in Shuafat, Beit Hanina and in the illegal Jewish settlement of Jilo, built on the lands of Beit Jala; all within a very narrow radius of Jerusalem.

Such news does not come as a surprise to anyone. Israeli announcements of this nature are routine, they happen all the time. The colonisation of the West Bank, with East Jerusalem included, has been continuous since the Israeli forces first occupied those lands in June 1967. No amount of condemning UN resolutions, Arab and Palestinian protests or objections by other world powers have had any effect on a systematic Israeli expansionist colonisation scheme that now covers more than half of the West Bank. Even repeated US efforts over the past decades to convince Israel to slow down the colonisation process, or to temporarily suspend illegal construction in order to enable peace talks with the Palestinians, have fallen on deaf Israeli leaders’ ears.

Currently, more than 700,000 settlers live in illegal settlements built in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Reports from Israel say that dozens of Israeli ministers and senior lawmakers from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and other right-wing parties signed a petition to promote a settlement plan that would settle 2 million Jews in the occupied West Bank.

Israel’s persistent obstruction of any peace plan, even when sponsored by the US, Israel’s most staunch supporter and protector, and even when meeting Israel’s best interests, can only be seen within the context of Israel’s determined plan to colonise all of Palestine, if not more, and to never allow the Palestinians to retain any part of it, except until their entire existence can be completely eliminated.

This is why Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian lands, the West Bank and East Jerusalem form only 21 per cent of the historic land of Palestine, in its 52nd year already is not a matter for discussion.

Occupation is the worst thing that can happen to any population. It is an act of serious aggression on people’s freedom, dignity, rights and resources. Occupation by any power of another population constitutes a very flagrant crime in that it controls other people’s lives without any justification whatsoever. Under international law, occupation is illegal. Israel’s occupation of Arab lands, the longest in modern history, and the only remaining one in the world, is an affront to normal civilised state behaviour.

But the Israeli occupation and its routine cruel practices against its Palestinian victims, in particular, is the worst ever known.

With the full protection of Israeli forces, extremist Jewish settlers carry weapons, terrorise defenceless Palestinian civilians, destroy their farms, burn their crops, cut their trees, attack their homes, damage their cars and property, obstruct their movement and cause them bodily harm. Additionally, the Jewish extremists have been violating the sanctity of the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem by their daily incursions on the Aqsa Mosque complex, again with Israeli forces’ protection and without an ounce of regard or respect for the terms of the peace treaty with Jordan, which placed such holy shrines under Jordanian Hashemite Custodianship.

For its part, the Israeli government does more. For the five-decade lifespan of the occupation, the Israeli authorities have steadily been engaging in the confiscation of private Palestinian land to build illegal settlements on, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and destruction of houses, often with their contents in them, on the pretext that they were built without occupation permission, as if Israel would give Palestinians permits to build on their own land, or as punishment for families of a family member who committed acts against Israeli targets.

Only days ago, Haaretz reported that six villages in the Hebron area, which had only been supplied with clean water six months earlier, were punished by having their fresh water supply cut off when, on February 18, Israeli forces turned up with bulldozers and dug up the 5cm pipes, sawed them apart and let the jet of water spurt out, leaving the villages without any water supply. It is incomprehensible, in this day and age, the extent to which action by a state could be so vicious and cruel, not to mention unlawful.

Most depressingly, such acts happen while the UN, the civilised world and its hundreds of human rights organisations remain silent, or even act in a manner that encourages such Israeli practices.
Unless the Israeli occupation is seriously put on the table, this region will never be safe or stable. The injustice that befell the Palestinian people more than seven decades ago is responsible for spreading chaos, radicalisation, violence and repeated wars. Israel’s behaviour and the failure of the so-called international community to discipline Israel have blunted the entire UN system, where double standards have replaced the rule of law. It is time that such a dire state of affairs is radically revised.

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