Palestinians are experiencing a tightening grip over nearly every aspect of their lives. Demolitions and displacements are at record numbers as Israel seeks to solidify its control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Construction of settler housing units races ahead; brutal settler attacks increase; 230 Palestinian children have been arrested since the beginning of 2021 and an estimated 4400 Palestinians are held in Israeli jails. Recently tensions ran high in Jerusalem stimulated by provocative actions including from Israel’s far-right that brought hundreds of angry demonstrators into the streets and fear grew that this would lead to another knife intifada. In addition, Israel, the US and now the UK raised their objections to the International Criminal Court investigating Israel for war crimes.
However, these happenings come at a time when there is growing awareness that Israel has gone too far in its repressive treatment and gross violations of international law concerning the Palestinian people. On 27th April, Human Rights Watch, one of the world’s leading independent organisations that defends human rights, released its report entitled Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid, Persecution, yet another organisation identifying the issue of apartheid, which is something that ICAHD did in 2006. Although it has taken years for this momentum to build, we applaud it.
Of late, British-Palestinian Farah Nabulsi’s short film The Present won a Bafta and was shortlisted for an Oscar, which has been significant in further spreading awareness to even wider sectors of civil society. There is also growth in BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns and civil actions such as with G4S, Veolia, and Puma, and with unfolding developments stimulated by the UN’s published list of companies that operate in Israel’s illegal settlements, see - https://visualizingpalestine.org/collective-action-timeline#timeline. Push-back is also growing around the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism and as our Patron Prof Avi Shlaim says, “…governments and organisations considering the adoption of the IHRA definition ought to think again”. We believe that Palestinians have won not just moral support, but Palestine has become emblematic of struggles for justice everywhere.
Despite the encouraging news, at this time of heightened repression and demolitions, we must not start slipping into complacency so that is why ICAHD is intensifying its campaign as we call for Israel to end home demolitions. New resources have been prepared and others will follow. Even though lockdown restrictions are easing, we will continue to offer a webinar programme to help inform and equip campaigners. We are also working towards increased national and international collaboration with other organisations.