Catastrophes, Set-backs and Everyday Resistance

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Today marks the 51st anniversary of Al Naksa (the set-back), when Israel won the ‘six day war’ and began its military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

We have marked and commemorated many events in the last year, all related to the many injustices experienced by Palestinians bringing into stark focus just how much Palestinians have had to live through. Palestinians have faced massacres, displacements and bombardments, but also home demolitions, child detentions, checkpoints and legal restrictions that make everyday life difficult.

Despite the ongoing brutality of the occupation and the struggle of life as refugees, Palestinians remind us what dedication to justice looks like. This Ramadan began with multiple funerals of over 60 protesters killed along the Gaza border by the Israeli army, and just last week we were bombarded with heart-breaking images of Razan Al Najjar, the 21 year old nurse shot in the back and killed by an Israel sniper. Razan grew up only knowing occupation and siege. She had never left the Gaza Strip, and she was determined to show love and support for her people by staying at the protests and helping the injured. Medics like Razan are well aware of the danger they face, and yet they still run to help people under bullets and tear gas, they still drive ambulances under heavy bombardment and they work long hours with limited resources and pay to keep Gaza going. Many go home and must cope with no electricity and no clean water in their homes and they must worry about feeding their families and keeping them happy, just like millions of other refugees.

The situation continues to worsen in the occupied West Bank too. The villages of Khan-Al-Ahmar and Susya have been faced with total demolition for years, and after a lengthy legal battle, the Israeli Supreme Court has given the go ahead for their demolition and the removal of residents. There are more settlers in the West Bank than ever before, and new settlements planned. Jerusalem has been claimed as the ‘capital of Israel’ by the United States, leaving its Palestinian residents even more vulnerable.

It is difficult not to feel anger and disgust at the callous way Palestinians are treated and the inaction of the global community, especially the very states that claim to stand for human rights and liberty. As outsiders, we feel the pain and horror of these events, we see pictures or videos and we get angry, however Palestinians must continue to just live. They must bear witness to the suffering of their friends and neighbours, and cope with the impact of the occupation in their everyday lives. Each of the people Interpal works with has a story. They have coped with poverty, ill health or bereavement, and they have often done this whilst worrying about settlers or bombs.

Every day is a struggle, and every day can have a set-back or can be the beginning of another catastrophe. Despite this, Palestinians show remarkable resilience and it is our duty to ensure that when this wanes, we are there to hold them up.  The humanitarian crisis in Palestine is complex and urgent, and the denial of basic human rights to millions of people is unacceptable. We do not accept it, and we continue to work to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable until the day we can mark positive milestones and Palestinians can live in peace.

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