National demonstration for Palestine, London. Photo: Jim Aindow National demonstration for Palestine, London. Photo: Jim Aindow

On the 72nd anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, Palestinians continue to suffer under occupation and apartheid and are now braced for further Israeli annexation, writes Sara Sammak

Today, Palestinians mark the 72nd anniversary of ‘the day of catastrophe’, also known as Nakba Day.

A brief history

In 1948, the state of Israel was formed out of a violent process of ethnic cleansing. This involved the forcible displacing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

Nakba Day is commemorated on May 15th every year, marking a time when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland by the Israeli occupation, and many Palestinian towns and villages destroyed. Today, millions of Palestinians are predominantly divided between Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza and West Bank, as well as displaced in different countries worldwide.

The Israeli government continues to force Palestinians from their homes and continues to occupy Palestinian land, as well as enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinian human rights.

It has now been 72 years since the Nakba Day, and Israel continues to refuse Palestinians their fundamental rights and to comply with international law.

EU Countries threaten to put Sanctions on Israel amid West Bank Annexation

Today on May 15th 2020, European Union representatives met in Brussels to discuss countermeasures, including the possible exclusion of Israel from trade agreements, special grants, or corporative ventures in various fields, denying Israel their membership due Netanyahu’s recent annexation plans for the West Bank.

With Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank, European Union foreign ministers have been left no choice but to threaten the leader with sanctions. The Israeli Prime Minister could be presenting a plan for annexing parts of the West Bank as early as July 1st 2020, going against international law.

At the daily press briefing on May 11th, EU spokesperson Peter Stano reiterated a former statement that “annexation is contrary to international law and if annexation goes ahead, the EU will act accordingly”.

British MP and former leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, joined 145 UK MPs demanding action of the Israeli governments illegal plan to annexe large areas of occupied Palestinian territory, stating:

“Annexation would be an act of aggression – and the UK government should make clear now that would lead to sanctions.”

Last month, foreign ministers of the Arab League declared that annexing territory in the West Bank would constitute a “war crime” and called on the EU to recognise Palestine as a state. There are currently 400,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, as well as a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem.

The people of Palestine continue to live under Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid, with the support of complicit leaders of other countries, one of the biggest supporters being the Trump administration, which is a problem that cannot possibly be ignored.

Every year on Nakba Day, commemorations typically take form of protests and rallies in Palestine and around the world. However, due to this year’s Covid-19 pandemic, such public demonstrations are unlikely.

However, many digital activities will be taking place to observe this day, as confirmed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

As well as opposing recent annexation plans.

Today we join the millions of peace activists across the globe to stand in solidarity with the millions of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. We continue to come together to put pressure on governments until the rights of Palestinians rights are met, and we will continue to support the Palestinian right of return. The fight for peace continues.

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Sara Sammak

Sara Sammak is a British Palestinian activist who works with the Stop the War Coalition and writes for Counterfire