Al Naksa: Today marks 54 years since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza began

Interpal_Naksa Day

Today marks Al Naksa, or ‘the setback’.

The June War in 1967 saw Israel take over all of historical Palestine and begin is military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Over 300,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and it would be decades before the brutal nature of the occupation was exposed to the world during the First Intifada in 1987.

The narrative of the Naksa is drastically different between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states involved in the June War. However, for Palestinians, the Naksa saw multiple villages destroyed, displacement, fear and also the destruction of the Moroccan Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The settler movement also began after the Naksa and continues unabated today.

The impact of the Naksa continues to this day. The military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is now 54 years old. The Palestinian refugee crisis is the longest running refugee crisis in the world, and in addition to that, the invisibility of Palestinian refugees in ‘peace talks’ or even in the narrative of Palestine continues to deny them their basic rights and humanity.

The occupation continues to be poorly understood, or even misrepresented in our media. There are many times when the word ‘occupation’ is omitted and we have seen press guidelines suggesting that journalists now even stop using ‘settlements’ in favour of words such as ‘neighbourhoods’. This attempt to hide the reality of the occupation points to how unacceptable the occupation truly is.

Palestinians voices have been drowned out or delegitimised for so long, however we are seeing this change and the global understanding of the so called ‘conflict’ changing too. It is too late to undo the trauma and suffering of the Palestinian people, but it is not too late to ensure justice is done and people are not forced to live under a brutal occupation that harms them at every level.

We all have a duty to ensure we hold our own governments accountable. The UK has a unique historical obligation in ensuring Palestinian human rights are met and the Middle East isn’t mired in violence and oppression. By calling our practices and policies that bolster the occupation and speaking up for Palestinian human rights using international law and the brave work of Palestinian activists, journalists and artists we all have a role to play.

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