Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, July 2015
Al-Quds Demonstration to Mark Anniversary of Gaza War Crimes
By Ali Akbar
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 13, 2015
The anniversary of last year's Israeli invasion of Gaza will be marked this weekend at the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day demonstration.
With headlines from the Middle East being dominated by widening turmoil in the region the continuing occupation of Palestine has been overshadowed by crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia since Israel's brutal onslaught on Gaza last summer.
Israelís 2014 invasion was the third aggression in six years. It lasted for 50 days killing more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounding 10,000.
The effects of that invasion continue to scar the landscape and the inhabitants. Many of the Gaza Strip's residential areas remain in ruins leaving their former inhabitants in temporary shelters and in many cases traumatised by the violence. Humanitarian agencies reports soaring rates of illness and psychological trauma, the latter particularly acute among children.
The Gaza Strip itself is still effectively blockaded by Israel with movement in and out virtually impossible for most inhabitants. The siege has been compounded by the closing of Gaza's border with Egypt by the military regime in Cairo. The blockade has crippled the economy with 43% of people out of work - youth unemployment is said to be 60%. Some 80% of inhabitants are dependent on external aid to survive. According to a World Bank report published last May, the poverty rate is 39%.
Some 100,000 people remain displaced in Gaza, and 90,000 homes still need to be repaired or rebuilt. Of the $3.5bn pledged by the international community for Gazaís reconstruction, just 27.5%, or nearly $1bn, has been disbursed. The UN has estimated that it will take 30 years to repair the damage. Power outages last for up to 18 hours a day because electricity, mainly brought in on power lines coming from Israel, is frequently closed off by the Israeli regime. A shortage of clean water is exacerbating already high rates of illness, pressurising a struggling health care system reliant on international handouts.
The occupation continues to hit Palestinians hard across the occupied territories. Illegal settlement activity in the West Bank continues apace in the face of hollow international objections and a continuing refusal to realise Palestinian rights. The 'apartheid wall' that has cut off whole
Palestinian communities from one another and the rest of historic Palestine continues to exact a heavy toll on the population. Palestinians are routinely subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without trial, with reports of torture and extra-judicial killings commonplace.
With international attention turning to other problems in the region, this year's Al-Quds demonstration will bring to the fore the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians and the wilful failure of the international community to bring it to an end. Coaches from all over the country will descend on London in a show of solidarity that will be replicated in towns and cities around the world. Last year saw as many as 9000 taking part in the capital with millions more participating worldwide.
The US embassy in London has again been selected as a rallying point because of Washington's heinous support of Israel. The US continues to underwrite the Zionist regime financially, militarily and politically and block all attempts at finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue.
The scale of US support is unlike any given by any country to another nation. Since 1948, the US has used its UN Security Council veto at least 40 times to block condemnation of Israel. Every day Israel receives $8.5m in military aid from its patron and in total each US citizen subsidises every single Israeli citizen to the tune of $500 per day.
IHRC Massoud Shadjareh said: "It is vital that we do not forget what happened in Gaza last year. The Zionist aggression was a huge war crime to add to a long list already inflicted on the Palestinians for which noone has yet been brought to account."
Notes to editors:
Date and Time of demonstration: 10 July from 3.30pm Assembly Point: Duchess Street (near BBC Radio) End/rally location: Grosvenor Square, opposite US embassy
The Al-Quds Day demonstration is being supported by over 20 organisations from across the political and religious spectrum including Jewish, Christian and secular groups. The full list can be seen at http://ihrc.org.uk/events/11451-al-quds-day-2015
Al-Quds Day was inaugurated in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini, who asked for the last Friday in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to be set aside by Muslims as a day for uniting against Israel and showing support for the dispossessed and oppressed Palestinians.
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