In June 2021, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip completed 54 years and entered the 55th year. A third and even a fourth generation of Palestinians was born in the midst of this reality of Israel’s control over the 5 million people living in the lands between the river and the sea. In June 1967, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Israel has continued to control these areas and their residents in one way or another. For half a century has imposed on them a reality of plunder and oppression, violating human rights.
In the Gaza Strip, Israel applies a ruthless policy, where it prevents the residents of the Strip from any possibility of creating an independent entity, while at the same time it meets their minimum needs of water and electricity. This policy does not allow the financial reconstruction of the Gaza Strip which was damaged during the war, nor does it allow for an economic recovery from the long years of siege.
In the West Bank, through direct control as well as through the Palestinian Authority, Israel implements a policy with clear long-term goals. The official practices and positions of an increasing number of Israeli leaders testify that they do not see the occupation as a temporary reality. Instead, Israel deals as though the area is under its complete sovereignty. It plunders the land, exploits the natural resources of the area for its needs, and establishes permanent settlements for Israelis. Whereas Palestinian residents of the West Bank live under a rigid military rule that serves, first and foremost, the interests of Israel and the settlers.
East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank and has been annexed by Israel in contravention of international law. Despite this, Israel treats the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem as unwelcome immigrants, and there is a systematic policy of seizing their homes and deporting them from their city. The official Israeli authorities disavow Israel’s responsibility for this reality and the violation of human rights it entails.
For a future based on human rights, democracy, freedom and equality, it must be recognized that all persons living between the river and the sea have individual and collective rights, including the right to self-determination. Different political scenarios may lead to the realisation of a future based on these rights, without the continued occupation being one of these scenarios.
As jurists and human rights defenders, we believe that the occupation must end. Israel’s continued control over millions of people whose lives are subject to its will and decision is unacceptable and cannot be justified or accepted.
We warn that if a non-violent way out of the current reality is not found, the levels of organised and unorganised violence will increase dramatically, and therefore striving and exerting efforts for a different future is not only an urgent moral task, but rather a life-saving task.