These attacks have been a part of an ongoing occupation of Palestine territory at the hands of the Israeli government, its forces and its settlers.
‘This has been a 74-year-old occupation, and there is no solution in sight,’ says Shahd Haj Khalil, a freelancer and activist for Palestine and human rights.
The occupation dates back to the late 20th century, when Britain took control of the area known as Palestine after the Ottoman Empire, the ruler of that part of the Middle East, was defeated in World War One.
An Arab majority inhabited the land, and the number of Jews arriving grew as many were fleeing persecution and seeking a homeland after the Holocaust of World War Two. Tensions rose in 1917 when the British government declared support for establishing a ‘national home for the Jewish people’ in Palestine.
After years of aggression, Israel has since settled its civilians in occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, displacing the local population and has carried out a series of attacks, air strikes and evictions, with over 63,000 casualties.
‘The Palestinians have been completely stripped of their rights,’ says Shahd. ‘They don’t exist anymore.’
‘It’s not moral, it’s not humane, and it’s a violation of international law.’
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that ‘the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’ It also prohibits the ‘individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory.’
Israel’s policy violates the convention. Most states and international bodies, including the European Union, have long recognized that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law, but this hasn’t stopped Israel from committing more violations.
‘The fact that it is a breach of international law, no one’s really doing anything about it, and they’re not being held accountable, goes to show how powerful Israel is as a military, as a country, as everything,’ says Shahd. ‘It’s become uncontrollable.’
The United Nations marked 2022 as the deadliest year for Palestinians since the end of the second Intifada, or mass uprising, in 2005. And Shahd doesn’t think it’s going to get any better.
‘I believe that 2023 will be even worse, unfortunately, especially for Gaza as well,’ says Shahd. ‘It’s just getting worse and worse, the situation is just getting more tense, and the population is just diminishing.’
‘It’s a very horrible situation right now because the more the government gets stronger and crazier, the more the Palestinians have to endure this constant brutality and murder.’