Population transfer and refugees
On 13 July, United Nations Member States (the United States excepted) agreed to an all-encompassing Global Compact to better manage international migration. The United States had withdrawn from the negotiations at the end of last year, under orders from the Trump Administration.
When people are forced into becoming migrants, they also become refugees. In the case of Palestinian refugees, their plight is a result of ethnic cleansing. On 14 May, Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu celebrated theinauguration (in total contempt for international law) of the US Embassy in Jerusalem while, on the same day, theIsraeli Army shot dead over 60 Palestinians, wounding and hospitalising a further 2,000. Most of the victims were refugees supporting The Great March of Return, which took place in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Israeli state remorselessly continues to violate the Fourth Geneva convention, both by creating more refugees and by denying the UN-recognised Palestinian right of return. The Great March of Return protest was an appeal to the world not to forget the victims of Zionism – as one protester put it: “We only want to make our voices heard. We want them to know that there are human beings living here, just like everywhere else, with dreams, just like everywhere else.”
Condemnation of Israel’s most recent act of destruction in the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar was expressed on 4 July this year by the European Union and the United Nations. For decades, the Jahalin Bedouin community’s homes, schools and livelihoods have been under constant threat. As one villager, Tahreer Abu Dahouk, mother of four children all aged under ten years, put it: “we sleep afraid, wake afraid”. Recent scenes of Israeli brutality and abuse are shameful. Panic-stricken Palestinian children, screaming as they watch theevictions, see their parents abused by Israeli police and soldiers. Mothers are violently pushed to the ground anddragged along, with their faces pushed into the sand. According to United Nations observers, 35 Palestinianswere injured as the Israeli assault on the village got under way. While these barbarities shame Israel, they also bring shame upon the world community that does nothing to restrain them.
Thanks to protest and unfavourable publicity, the Israeli High Court has since ordered a temporary delay to the destruction of the village and the removal of the villagers. The Israeli Occupation has closed the area around Khan al-Ahmar to the general public until the end of the month, as it begins to build a road to the village. Construction could take several days or weeks but in the end it will enable a swifter process of eviction. Meanwhile, in scenes reminiscent of the Domesday Book, Israeli colonial officers and police are taking measurements in Khan al-Ahmar and recording the numbers of livestock present.
Taking the floor at the UN Global Compact, the Deputy, Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed noted that the agreement demonstrated “our ability to come together on issues that demand global collaboration – however complicated and contentious they may be.” Her words remind us of our recognition of the duty to stand up for justice and human rights. The massacre of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the Khan al-Ahmar ethnic cleansing signal a growing and alarming undermining of hard-won international human rights safeguards.
The history of this present stage of ethnic cleansing goes back to the 1950s. Break the silence – let’s hear New Zealand’s voice on the world stage and the voices of our lawmakers in Parliament in defence of the villagers of Khan al-Ahmar. Stop the ethnic cleansing.