The tragedy of an-Nakbah or catastrophe officially unfolded on the 15th May of 1948 with the birth of the illegitimate state of Israel. It was the culmination of the systematic usurpation of Palestinian land by Jewish settlers since the 1920’s and ended with the mass exodus of more than 800,000 Palestinians vacating their homes and land to save dear life. Sixty two years have past to date, and these displaced Palestinians or their children and children’s children are still living in refugee camps across the middle east, longing to return to their homes in historic Palestine.
It all started with the notorious Balfour Declaration passed in the British House of Commons in 1917, giving the rights to the people of Jewish descent to migrate and populate the British mandated territory of Palestine. It marked the success of the International Zionist movement started and led by Teodor Hertzl in 1897, which after much consultation settled for Palestine for the Jewish National Home. They came and settled in Palestine, buying over land or taking over from absentee landlords. Thanks to the great Mufti of Palestine, al-Haj Amin Husaini, a religious edict was passed by the council of muslim scholars which forbade Palestinians from selling their lands to Jewish settlers. Things came to a head after the Second World War, when displaced jews of Europe as a consequent of Hitlers pogrom, or the Holocaust, flocked to Palestine in their hundreds of thousands. They formed armed groups like Haganah and Irgun, terrorizing Palestinians by conducting raids and massacres on Palestinian villages. To resolve the situation in Palestine, the United Nation formed the UNSCOP (United Nation Special Committee on Palestine) to preside over the issue, and they came up with the Partition Plan, whereby historic Palestine was divided into Arab and Jewish territory. Fifty five percent of Palestinian territory was carved up for the Jewish immigrants from Europe. The Partition Plan was tabled in the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 and was passed as the Resolution 181 with majority votes. As Arab and Islamic countries have yet to become members of the United Nation, as they were still under the colonial yoke, the outcome of the motion was a forgone conclusion. What’s worst was the Palestinian people, the rightful owner of the land was ignored as if they were non existent.
Nineteen years later, the zionist State of Israel annexed the remaining 23% of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jarusalem (Baitul Maqdis), what’s left of the Arab territories from the first Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Right to this day, every single inch of these remaining territory has been under occupation. Despite of repeated calls by the United Nations to withdraw to the Green Line of 1967, as stipulated by the UN Resolution 242 and 338 Israel remain defiant. The longstanding occupation now has lead to other more demeaning and sinister moves by the Zionist regime to carve up more land by buiding jewish-only settlements on Palestinian lands, constructing the notorious wall that snakes through the West Bank from north to south, disrupting daily movements of the Palestinian people and blocking access to schools, farms and water sources. Against every sense of justice and international laws and convention, Israel has been laying siege on the densely populated Gaza strip since 2006, turning it into the biggest terrestrial prison on earth. The population of Gaza was collectively punished for putting up resistance against the occupation, an act that is sanctioned even by the United Nations and the Geneva Conventions. The siege was than followed by a massive military strike against a deprived population that lasted for 22 days with the aim of breaking the spirit of the Palestinian people. But the Palestinian people survived the terrible ordeal and came out stronger.
These episodes only prove one thing i.e. no power can frustrate a national aspiration for freedom. The Palestinian people will continue to remain steadfast in their struggle to liberate their land and restore their dignity in the face of the most oppressive regime the world has ever known. They have put up sixty two years of honourable fight to regain their freedom and they are showing no signs of letting up.
PACE proudly stood by the Palestinian cause. The Palestinian people deserve a standing ovation for such an increadible feat.
Assoc Prof Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor.
Director of PACE (Palestine Centre of Excellence)
Assoc Prof Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor. Director of PACE (Palestine Centre of Excellence)