The world breathed a collective sigh of relief on May 21, 2021, when the Middle East’s only nation with nuclear weapons capability, the apartheid state of Israel, reached a ceasefire with Gaza’s Hamas government. This 11-day conflict left unacceptable civilian casualties on both sides: 13 Israelis, 2 of them children, and 256 Palestinians mostly in Gaza, including 66 children and 40 women.
Tragically, the spark that ignited this catastrophe still smoulders and as such, the world now holds its breath, hoping against hope that a repeat is not just around the corner.
What sparked this conflict was the mass eviction of innocent, unarmed Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. While these evictions came to a temporary halt during the fighting, it is feared that they are about to begin again.
Many of the families now evicted or facing eviction had been forced to flee Jaffa, a port city just south of Tel Aviv, in 1948 when Israel came into existence. At that time, East Jerusalem was under the control of Jordan. In 1956, the Jordanian Housing Ministry working with the United Nations offered a number of those displaced families permanent homes in East Jerusalem.
Tragically, their newfound security came to an end in 1967 after Israel’s victory in the 6-day war and its occupation of East Jerusalem. Not long thereafter, never-ending tortuous legal battles were launched in which Israeli courts were asked, and agreed, to issue eviction orders, once again making these families homeless.
Under international law, these and all recent court-ordered evictions are totally illegal. This is due to the fact that the courts of an occupying party have no jurisdiction over occupied territory. East Jerusalem is occupied by Israel and as such, the Israeli courts have no jurisdiction.
To make matters worse, to determine land ownership, the Israeli courts have relied on Ottoman land-registry records dating back to the 19th century. Where Ottoman records were not available, ‘the problem’ was efficiently solved in a very different way.
It is next to impossible for any Palestinian living in East Jerusalem to obtain the necessary permits to build, repair, or make additions to their homes. They are forced to proceed without a permit. The Israeli courts then issue orders permitting caterpillar bulldozers to demolish the homes, putting long-resident families out on the street. As you read this, approximately 20,000 Palestinian homes are under threat of demolition due to lack of permits.
Ethnic cleansing is a term many of us heard for the first time in regard to the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The world is definitely witnessing ethnic cleansing now in East Jerusalem.
In April, Human Rights Watch said that Israeli authorities “are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
Let us all hope that international pressure — including pressure from Washington which provides the apartheid state of Israel with $3.8 billion in military aid per annum, making Israel’s military more powerful than all other Middle East nations combined — is sufficient to bring a permanent halt to these criminal ethnic cleansing evictions.
Daily atmospheric CO2 [Courtesy of CO2.Earth]
Latest daily total (June 23, 2021): 419.02 ppm
One year ago (June 24, 2020): 416.63 ppm
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