On May 15, 1948, Palestinians experienced one of the most tragic episodes of Palestinian Arab history. Palestinians remember this day as Al-Nakba, in English “the Catastrophe,” Israel forcibly expelled close to 800,000 residents from their homes, turning the majority of Palestinians into refuges. Today there are close to 5 million Palestinian refugees still waiting to return and reclaim what is rightfully theirs, as international law and UN resolutions guarantee.

When the state of Israel was created in 1948, 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed as their Palestinian inhabitants were driven out against their will. The UN’s recognition of the Jewish state was directly tied with the full implementation of UN resolution 194, which granted all Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homes inside what is today known as Israel.

UN resolution 194 proved to be one of countless resolutions which are consciously ignored by Israel, while the world, under the leadership of America, continues to turn a blind eye. Since 1972, the US has vetoed 35 UN resolutions critical of Israel.

57 years later, Israel’s occupation is more brutal than ever. In this past Intifada, Israelis have killed 4,062 Palestinians. Israel continues to uproot trees and homes, creating more Palestinian refugees living in tents throughout the West Bank and Gaza. More so, Israel continues to build its dreaded Apartheid Wall, on stolen Palestinian land, in complete defiance of the ICJ’s advisory opinion, as well as worldwide dismay with Israel’s unilateralist policies.

Israel still stands guilty of failing to abide by the rules and principles of international law, namely the implementation of the prerequisite UN Resolutions 181 and 194, as well as resolutions 242 and 338 pertaining to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. To this day, Israel’s policies continue to violate Palestinian rights, most prominently through its expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian territory, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and its rejection of the Palestinian refugees’ legitimate right of return.

Hence, MIFTAH calls for an end to Israel’s occupation and for the implementation of long ignored resolutions and rights. We urge the international community and all countries of the world to remember this gloomy and disastrous day and to push towards long-awaited justice for Palestine and the Palestinian people.

* The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, MIFTAH, is a non-governmental, non-partisan Jerusalem-based institution dedicated to fostering democracy and good governance within Palestinian society.