As we celebrate Eid Al Fitr today, one of the holiest and joyous days of the year, there are millions in Palestine who will be missing the occasion as they continue to mourn and bury their dead and brace for more Israeli attacks.
Over the past few weeks, there have been encouraging signs of détente in the region as more countries opted for dialogue to end the years-long conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya. But as Ramadan drew closer, the Israelis decided to evict Palestinian families from their ancestral homes in the occupied East Jerusalem. The evictions are part of decades-long Israeli policy to take over the city, recognised by the international community as the capital of the future Palestinian state.
The Israeli move led to violent clashes in which hundreds of Palestinians were injured as they tried to stop the Israeli forces and Jewish colonisers from storming Al Haram Al Sharif. Today, the crisis, the result of Israel’s oppressive colonial policies, seems to have gone out of control and now threatens to ignite a full-scale war.
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 53 Palestinians, including 14 children, have been killed in Gaza and the occupied West Bank and hundreds of others wounded in the more than 300 Israeli air strikes that specifically targeted residential building in the strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinians will “pay a very heavy price” after five people in Israel were killed by retaliatory rockets fired by Gaza factions.
While Muslims around the world celebrate Eid, the Palestinians brace for Netanyahu’s “iron fist”. While millions of Muslims enjoy the traditional Eid meal in the blissful presence of their families, the Palestinians will be hurrying to safety to shelter their children who, unlike other Muslim children today, will not be enjoying the sound of firecrackers; instead, they will be fleeing the deafening sound of Israeli bombs!
On the other hand, this crisis has proven again that the future of this region will in most part be defined by the end of the Israeli occupation. That is the premise on which several Arab countries have decided last year to sign peace accords with Tel Aviv — to chart a new path for this region in which all the peoples will finally have a chance to build their future in peace.
The reaction of the international community to Israel’s new aggression henceforth needs to evolve into a substantial push for an immediate ceasefire, an end to Israel’s illegal move in Jerusalem and a serious effort to resume peace talks for a just and lasting peace.
Meanwhile, we wish you all Happy Eid, hoping the people of Palestine will be able to celebrate the next one.