ActionAid today called for an end to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, now in its fiftieth year.
In the last half a century, since 1967, over 48,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed to make way for illegal Israeli settlements which now cover over 42% of land in the occupied West Bank. Privately-owned Palestinian land continues to be confiscated at a growing and alarming rate to make way for Israeli-only settlements, roads, farmland and industry. In contrast, Palestinian urban expansion and rural development is rendered all but impossible under restrictive and discriminatory Israeli planning and construction laws.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are considered illegal under international law. Many United Nations Security Council resolutions – most recently in December 2016 – have called their existence and expansion a major obstacle to any peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.
The international community, despite agreeing on the illegality of the settlements, has taken no decisive action to halt the forcible displacement of Palestinians and confiscation of Palestinian land.
Moira O’Leary, ActionAid Country Director in Palestine said:
“For over fifty years, Palestine has been under one of the longest sustained military occupations in modern history. During this time, Israel has imposed restrictions impacting all aspects of Palestinians’ daily lives.
“Palestinian homes and livelihoods have been destroyed to make way for Israeli-only areas, and Israel’s control over Palestinian natural resources such as water, land and minerals has devastated the Palestinian economy, with the World Bank estimating that discriminatory restrictions on trade, movement and land, cost the Palestinian economy an estimated $3.4 billion per year.
“Five decades on, the occupation continues to deny Palestinians their fundamental human rights and leaves them facing a future without hope.”
As an occupying force, Israel is obliged under international law to protect Palestinian civilians from any form of violence, to not move its own people into the territory it occupies, to not extract natural resources for its own use, and, crucially, to ensure that Palestinians’ rights and needs are provided for. In reality, Israel continues to undertake wide-spread confiscation of land and destruction of property, and to deny Palestinians their rights and freedoms, including through the collective punishment of 1.9 million Palestinians in Gaza living under a 10 year land, air and sea blockade.
“World leaders have said a lot, but done little. Fifty years of occupation is fifty years too long. Palestinians have suffered enough. It is time for the international community to hold Israel to account for its continued violations of international law. Governments around the world must exert their influence to end the occupation,” O’Leary continued.
“ActionAid is today marking this grim anniversary with solidarity in countries across the world, urging people to stand together with Palestinians in their struggle for self-determination and full realisation of their rights”