Human Rights Day 10 December, commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It states: “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,….. it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,”
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
For Palestinians ‘Nakba Day‘ (the Day of Catastrophe) commemorates the event when thousands of Palestinians were forcibly evicted or fled from their homeland following the Declaration of the State of Israel by the Zionist Party (Zionism is a political and not a religious movement) triggering an attack by adjacent Arab States. Some 750,000 Palestinians were scattered across refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Palestine’s neighbouring countries, most never returned home. Now, over five million Palestinian refugees are estimated to be still displaced.
Israeli comment: “A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on” …..”Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians.” Benny Morris
The 1967 6 day Arab-Israeli War followed a supposed rise of Arab unification and a further failed attempt to restore Palestinian lands. This resulted in the occupation by Israel of The Golan Heights, The Sinaii Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” to be achieved by “the application of both the following principles: … Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict … Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries.” Part of the Golan Heights and the Sinaii Peninsula were ceded in the Camp David Peace Accord between Egypt and Israel in 1978, leaving the West Bank and Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation.
Israel prefers the term ‘disputed territories’ denying its occupation. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies consider Israel to be the occupying power as it controls Gaza Strip’s airspace, territorial waters and the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea. Gaza remains one of the most densely populated places on Earth with a total area of 365 km, a population of over 1.7 million and eight over-crowded, under-resourced refugee camps. Its economy is at a standstill, half of its children are malnourished and people do not have access to adequate medical care.
The Israeli occupation of Palestine is the longest military occupation in modern history. Israeli illegal blockades, indiscriminate bombing, torture and imprisonment without trial are considered by many as war crimes. Palestinians continue to live in the shadow of the wall erected by Israel with restricted access to their holy shrines. Today Israeli settlements which have been declared illegal by the impotent United Nations continue the policy of land dispossession.