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Israeli occupation of Palestine rife with human rights violations

Israeli Apartheid Week Wall 2015 |Courtesty of Students for Justice in Palestine

The two-state solution between the Israeli state and the Palestinian Authority has been an utterly dismal failure. Over the past seven years, Students for Justice in Palestine has been organizing at the University of Houston around the problem of apartheid in Israel. Annually, it organizes Israeli Apartheid Week, highlighting the injustices inflicted on the Palestinian population within Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

In doing so, it recognizes that the University is a space for making the next generation of professionals aware of the atrocities committed against Palestinians.

Inequality for Palestinians living under Israeli law is apparent, including restriction of movement, unequal access to natural resources, electricity and the longest-running military occupation in the world. The occupation controls all access to and from Palestine. In practice, Israel has forced a one-state solution.

The building of illegal settlements in the West Bank has continued unabated, and the Gaza Strip is still blockaded by land, air and sea. In the West Bank, Palestinians have been pushed into living under an military regime that continues to dispossess them everyday. In Gaza, they live in an open-air prison with no sign of change on the horizon.

It is in this context that apartheid did not end in 1994 after the transition in South Africa from white-rule to a liberal democracy. For Palestinians, apartheid is, and has been since 1948, an everyday reality.

In September 2016 under the Obama administration, the U.S. and Israel made their biggest military aid deal, according to The New York Times. This deal will amount to 38 billion dollars over the course of the next 10 years and replaces the previous agreement made during the Bush administration. Israel receives more aid from the U.S. than any nation in the world and remains unaffected by the Trump administration’s cuts to foreign aid as it continues to garner $10.1 million a day.

Palestinian children killed by Israel on IAW wall 2015|Courtesy of Students for Justice in Palestine

U.S. taxpayer money continues to fund Israeli atrocities against Palestinians, which makes us complicit in the Israeli occupation. Our government has made no effort to pressure the Israeli government to cease settlement expansion, nor has it denounced or officially acknowledged the occupation of the Palestinian people.  

In contrast, the South African government has announced its plan to cut diplomatic ties with Israel — a show of solidarity with Palestinians. This move is extremely important given the parallels between the conditions of apartheid South African history and conditions in occupied Palestine.

Most resources and privileges are reserved for the dominant population with the most political representation in the Israeli Knesset. Israel uses the facade of a democracy to overshadow the reality that anyone who is not a white Jew is treated as a second-class citizen with limited rights.

Among the plethora of restrictions and oppressive tactics that Israel uses, the control of Palestinian water supply is the most dehumanizing. Israel has exclusive control of approximately 60 percent of fresh water from the West Bank’s mountain aquifer and the Sea of Galilee, according to the BBC.

For Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, life is becoming unsustainable. The United Nations has declared that the territory will become uninhabitable by 2020 if the blockade remains.

The blockade of Gaza allows Israel to maintain the illusion of abiding by the two-state solution while maintaining control of the territory. That also involving not allowing Palestinians to leave the coastal enclave. Infrastructure is crumbling from years of IDF bombing raids, and electricity has been limited to only four hours per day.

A situation more akin to wartime is considered peacetime in Gaza. The situation could not be more desperate, and it continues to get worse.

“Palestinians are denied any meaningful form of political power and are deprived of their rights to self-determination and popular sovereignty,” said Abdel Razzaq Takriti, an associate professor of history who studies the modern Arab world. “They are subject to army rule and the control of a plethora of security forces, and can therefore be bombed with impunity and imprisoned at whim.”

These security forces not only include the highly violent Israeli Defense Force (IDF) but also the Palestinian Authority (PA). Even the President of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas, acts as a political puppet for the Israeli state.

It is well documented that the PA acts as a security force for the occupation, arresting dissidents and imprisoning journalists.

For Palestinians who have to wait hours at a time to cross security checkpoints and live under fear of seeing their homes demolished by IDF bulldozers, seeing their leaders not only vacillate in negotiations but also cooperate in maintaining their oppression can be debilitating. This is why Palestinians resist and rarely heed the calls of the PA.

As Palestinians continue to suffer from high imprisonment rates, land and water theft, the destruction of their homes, radicalized exclusion from jobs in Israel proper and daily violence from IDF soliders and settlers, we have to ask ourselves why our government is so supportive of these crimes against humanity.

Opinion columnist Brant Roberts is a history senior, and columnist Sarah Tawashy is a human nutrition and foods sophomore. Both can be reached at [email protected].

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