Israel’s total occupation of Palestine began 50 years ago, following the Six-Day War. With blessings from Washington, Israel’s occupation has expanded and threatens the very existence of Palestine.
On July 14, Israel seized control of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. They sent in at least 3,000 Israeli forces to install turnstiles, cameras, and metal detectors outside the mosque. They also banned men under fifty from entering the mosque in an act of collective punishment. Israel does not have legal jurisdiction over the mosque; the Jordanian Waqf does. Through their spokesperson, the Waqf called on all mosques in Jerusalem to close and for worshipers to congregate at the Lion’s Gate entrance of the al-Aqsa Mosque. Thousands of worshipers showed up outside of the mosque for prayer. None went inside, vowing to pray outside until the Israelis withdrew their security barriers. In some places the Israeli military “fired stun grenades and tear gas towards the protesters outside the Old City, while Palestinians threw stones and other objects at security forces in some areas.” Rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition followed. According to the Red Crescent, 400 Palestinians were injured, including children, in violation of article 37(b) of The Convention of the Rights of the Child, and four were killed. On July 27, due to massive nonviolent protests and resistance, Israel removed all barriers and opened the gates so people of faith could worship freely at the al-Aqsa Mosque.
Meanwhile, illegal Israeli settlements continue to spread across the West Bank, encircling East Jerusalem. Following the Six-Day War, Israel began building illegal settlements in the West Bank. The fourth Geneva Convention outlaws the building of permanent structures on occupied land. By 2008, 465,000 Israelis lived in the West Bank on strategically placed, hilltop settlements. These are middle-class, Jewish-only neighborhoods where settlers drive back and forth on Jewish-only roads. Today, more than 600,000 Israelis squat illegally in these settlements: 400,000 in the West Bank and 200,000 in East Jerusalem. The latter area, by law, is designated the capital of Palestine. Since last year, there has been a 70% increase in construction of settlements, many of which surround East Jerusalem or threaten Palestinian towns like Ramada, Hebron, and Bethlehem.
In Gaza, where two million people live in 141 square miles, the World Health Organization has stated that conditions have become unlivable. Electricity is available in spurts that might total two to four hours daily, reducing available water by one-third. When the electricity shuts down, so do the dialysis machines and automatic respiratory systems. People die. Also, 65% of the population is unemployed, with youth unemployment at a dangerous 60%. And food is a crisis as well: 85% of the people there rely on the United Nations and others for food rations. All the borders in and out of Gaza are controlled by Israel. Israel decided that 2,279 calories per person, per day, was enough to keep people alive, so that’s what they allow in. This equals 170.4 truckloads per day, five days a week. After breakage and other spills, that shakes down to 131 truckloads per day, less than what people need to survive. Israel has reduced the amounts of fruit and meat while increasing the amounts of sugar. A calorie is a calorie, right? During Operation Cast Lead (2008/2009), Israel bombed Gaza’s only sewage treatment plant. Today raw sewage flows into the sea. Fishermen in Gaza have a six-mile range in polluted waters. Due to intermittent electricity, the desalination plant is not working. Even the drinking water is untreated and undrinkable.
These excesses in cruelty began 11 years ago, when the people of Gaza democratically elected Hamas. Israel and the United States freaked out because they’d elected the wrong government. The Palestinians needed to be punished, and hell got even hotter. In 2014, Israeli forces, in an act of collective punishment, killed one out of every thousand residents of Gaza, nearly all of whom were civilians. None of this is reported in the U.S. corporate press. What the corporate press calls terrorism is quite simply a people’s legal right to resist occupation. As Murphy reports, Israeli leaders say their aim is to “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.” They further state that “there are no innocents in Gaza … mow them down.” Their calls to “concentrate and exterminate” Palestinians or their demand to slaughter Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes” clearly articulate their goal of genocide of the Palestinians.
Israel has rejected a one-state solution, a democracy where all citizens enjoy equal civil rights. You can’t respect all people and be a theocratic state where one group is “better” than the others. A legal two-state solution would require Israelis in the occupied West Bank to leave and go back to Israel. That’s not very likely. Now Israel is proposing the three-state solution.
A three-state solution would move Israel’s border with Egypt a few hundred meters northward along a strip of land hundreds of kilometers long. In exchange, Egypt would give up a strip of land along their eastern border and extend Gaza. Israel would build more settlements in the West Bank and then give some of the occupied West Bank land in the north to Jordan. Jordan would transfer the land to Palestine. Simple, right? Israel could live as an apartheid state with various levels of democracy for its citizens and the Palestinians would no longer be a problem.
There’s a couple of problems with this plan. No one asked King Abdullah II of Jordan what he thinks. The last Egyptian president to comment on it, Mubarak, said that Egypt wouldn’t forfeit one grain of sand from the Sinai Peninsula. And no one asked the Palestinians, who have been there a very long time. I have a friend who can trace her family living in the region back to the mid-sixteenth century. No, this three-state solution only works for Israel and the United States in an alternative reality called Planet Peace Process. A lasting solution requires justice. Only then will peace prevail.