A Modern Story of Colonization

It has been more than a week since tensions arose in Palestine over Israel’s forced occupation in East Jerusalem and the demolition of Palestinian homes. The latest clashes began when the Israeli riot police tried to stop Muslims from gathering and praying in Al Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. The forced evictions of Palestinians from the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah also fueled the confrontations. Airstrikes and stun grenades echoed on Monday and till now more than 1500 Palestinians are wounded, and over 200 are reported dead including innocent women and children, until a truce has reportedly been agreed.

The foundation of this dispute lies in the 73-year-old colonial attempt by Israel that continues to subject the Palestinians to military occupation, land dispossession, forced evictions, and human rights violations. After the titular victory of the UK in World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the French and the British decided to carve up the Middle East in such a way to ensure their power and hold over the already divided Arab world, forever.

To gain the support of Jews, in 1917, a statement known as the Balfour Declaration was issued by the British which was basically a public pledge to create ‘a national home for Jewish people’ in Palestine. And thus, from here onwards began the game of land between Israel and Palestine.

Palestine came under the so-called mandate system after the fall of Ottoman Empire created by the British and its allies which paved the way for colonization and occupation. The victors of World War I casually drew the borderlines in the Middle East with a ruler and established such fault lines that still create havoc in the Middle East and sharpen many ethnic and religious conflicts.

The basic purpose of this mandate system was to transfer the power of defeated territories to the victors of the war to certify smooth administration, and governance until these states could become autonomous. However, in the case of Palestine, this was designed in a way to ensure Jewish rule and domination at the expense of Palestinians’ lives and homes. To fulfill its intended goal, the British started to expedite the Jewish immigration programmes to Palestine and in 1935 the Jewish population gradually rose to nearly 27 percent.

After World War !!, the United Nations came up with a Partition Plan in 1947 where it proposed to divide Palestine into two halves, comprising of independent Arab and Jewish states with Jerusalem being an independent international entity under UN rule. The Arabs vehemently protested against it and the approval of this plan sparked violence and carnage in Palestine that became more prevalent with time. As the British mandate came to an end in May 1948, the State of Israel was officially established and with that, the long struggle to free Palestine from Israeli rule began.

Israeli Independence and termination of British mandate led to a full-fledged war in 1948. The war resulted in the defeat of Palestinians and Arabs that caused the 1948 Palestinian exodus where nearly 700,000 Palestinian were forcefully evicted from their homes. Their lands were taken, more than 500 villages were destroyed, and Palestinian history was erased with the Hebraization of Palestinian place names. This exodus was the major component in the systematic destruction and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian society which is known as Nakba meaning disaster or catastrophe.

Since then, many attempts have been made, such as in 1967 and 1973, to free Palestine from the rule of the tyrant Israelis, but unfortunately, the Arab support varies when it comes to the cause of Palestine. To this date, millions of Palestinians are robbed of their homes, their lands, their independence, and even their right to self-determination. Palestine is still not fully recognized as an independent state by many countries even though Israel is a settler colony which is forcefully occupying Palestinian lands and domains.

It is time for the international community to recognize Israel as what it is— An Apartheid Colonial State. According to the Human Rights Watch, Israel’s domination, its systematic oppression, and human rights violation against Palestinians point to the crimes of apartheid. The International Justice Court is also investigating Israel for its possible war crimes and illegal activities in Palestine.

Nevertheless, the people in Gaza are still waking up with the sounds of bombs, crashing buildings, and cries of mothers.

It is the responsibility of the international organizations, especially the UN, to ensure security, stability and peace in every region of the world. Unfortunately, the UN with its dilly dally attitude has failed in finding a solution to end the soaring violence in Palestine. So, while we sit safely with a hot cup of tea in our homes built on the lands that we proudly call our own without any fear of dispossession, think about the innocent Palestinians, especially little children who have nothing but rocks to defend themselves. The truce may give temporary relief, but where is the permanent solution?

Javaria Nisar
Javaria Nisar
The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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