It’s May 15 today and May 15 is the day Palestinians call Al Nakba. 65 years ago, the creation of the state of Israel implied the displacement of thousands of Palestinians who left their homes and were forced to settle elsewhere. It led to the physical separation of Palestinians across the region – to refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, to the West Bank, to Gaza, to Jerusalem – which continues today, aggravated by movement restrictions, discrimination, housing demolitions, closure and siege.
The political division between Gaza and West Bank is but one of the more recent developments that continues to drive a stake between the Palestinians living in this case just a two hour drive apart. (The division, in brief, came when Hamas won the 2006 parliamentary elections, and concluding in their control of Gaza, and Fatah responding by claiming the West Bank.)
Yesterday, women in Gaza met to mark the day with their own action and voices, making the link between the political division and the division brought on by Al Nakba. For the past 7 months, women in Gaza have gathered every Tuesday to remind the community and the decision makers that the ongoing political division between the West Bank and Gaza must end.
What began 65 years ago with forced displacement that tore families and communities apart continues today. In the past weeks, we have witnessed countless housing demolitions, of both residences and business, displacing Palestinians across the West Bank. The impact on women is clear – living in overcrowded conditions they are more vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual violence.
On today’s Al Nakba, this blog entry wants to send a message of support to the courageous women human rights defenders who continue to challenge the occupation, the political split and the physical division amongst the Palestinian people and all that it implies.