With settler attacks on the rise across the West Bank and historic Palestine, and military incursions escalating throughout the occupied territories, often in direct conjunction with one another and with near full complicity from Western governments, the international community has responded by implementing increased measures with regard to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Israeli regime and its global economic root structure. Since the beginning of 2014, violations against the Palestinian people and their property, by both Israeli soldiers and militant settler civilians — with full backing by undercover and uniformed Israeli police units — have been in a state of escalation, even amidst a recent series of renewed peace negotiations brokered by US officials.
In April alone, UN reports revealed that over 200 Palestinians were injured by Israeli military and police forces, with the majority of injuries occurring during clashes in and around East Jerusalem, in connection with the entry of Jewish nationalist groups into the Al Aqsa Mosque compound for the purpose of conducting religious ceremonies. These joint raids on Al Aqsa have been on the rise since this past winter, with the other major locus of violence being centered around the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
Between 8 and 14 April, the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem witnessed major clashes between residents and Israeli forces, during which a 44-year-old Palestinian woman from the camp, died after suffering and being treated for tear gas inhalation just two days earlier. During these clashes in Aida Camp, 42 Palestinians, including 20 children, were injured.
More recently come the deaths of at least 15 people across the Arab world, in connection with clashes which coincided with protests held during the commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, during which an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homelands by Israeli colonizers, and have since become the largest refugee group in the world.
Although the majority of Palestinians were expelled from their homes during the 1948 conflict which led to the creation of the state of Israel, some managed to remain and their descendants, today, make up around 20 percent of Israel’s population.
As a result of the Syrian civil war, some 235,000 Palestinians have been displaced in Syria itself and 60,000, alongside 2.2 million Syrians, who fled the country, as of October 2013.
Palestinians make up the largest refugee group in the world, according to UN statistics which, by 2010, had designated nearly 5 million Palestinians with official refugee status.
UNRWA has estimated that there were more than 7.2 million Palestinian refugees and displaced persons at the end of 2005, according to The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU).
During the nine months of peace talks with the Palestinians, plans for nearly 14,000 new settler homes were approved by the Israeli government, and this in addition to over 500 Palestinian structures which were demolished throughout and following the US-brokered peace negotiations. Palestinians fortunate enough to have housing are further disenfranchised by severe fuel sanctions, limited a lack of running water and other basic amenities, in addition to food shortages, increasingly reduced education and employment opportunities, as well as access to basic medical services.
Settlers frequently target Palestinian property and holy sites with graffiti and other forms of reckless vandalism. Farmlands are raided, crops destroyed, the lands pumped full of waste water rendering them unarable. Though Israeli police are quick to report that investigations are underway, with an occasional token reproachment or court case surfacing in news headlines, most of these attacks go uninvestigated and unpunished.
Peace talks hit a major stumbling block, in late March, when Israel refused to honor a commitment to free two dozen veteran Palestinian prisoners, prompting Abbas to resume state recognition moves by signing 15 international treaties, as well as committing to the construction of a unity government between previously divided Palestinian political factions.
This past month, the vast majority of more than 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli prisons began taking part in an open-ended solidarity hunger strike with the nearly 100 prisoners who have been refusing food since April 24, in protest over Israel’s continuing administrative detention policy, in which prisoners are held without charge or trial, let alone even knowing the circumstances under which they are being detained. Several hunger strikers now suffer deteriorating health conditions, with some reportedly close to death.
In response to the ongoing violations by the Israeli government and its civilian population, the international community has taken nonviolent protest to a new level with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, in which products, services and cultural events connected with illegally confiscated Palestinian lands are refused and brought to light through press, protest and other community actions highlighting the historic plight of the Palestinian people.
In May, special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, urged organizations and companies around the world to join in the ‘increasingly international solidarity movement against Israeli occupation’, stating that ‘now is the best opportunity for the Palestinians to achieve self-determination through pressures at the grassroots level’ and ‘nonviolent resistance’.
In Ireland, for the fifth consecutive year, members and supporters of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign recently staged a protest outside the annual general meeting of Irish multinational CRH in Dun Laoghaire.
Campaigners held flags and a corriboard replica of the wall in a protest asking the company to divest from their 25% stake in the Israeli company Mashav, which is a holding company for Nesher, Israel’s sole cement manufacturer.
In Norway, Israeli President Shimon Peres’ visit was met with mass demonstrations organized by popular human rights organizations and leftist parties calling for his expulsion, after Swedish authorities refused entrance of his plane into their airspace.
Earlier this year, in January, the Dutch pension fund PGGM announced on the front page of its website that it had withdrawn tens of millions of Euros worth of investments from five Israeli banks, citing the banks’ unethical and illegal practices in the West Bank.
In Spain, Lisbon’s water company EPAL announced that it terminated a technology exchange deal with Israeli state water company Mekorot, following protests over Mekorot’s role in Israel’s ‘water apartheid’ over Palestinians.
In America, actor Danny Glover and a number of others featured in a US documentary about a prominent social justice activist protested the film’s screening at a Tel Aviv festival, this week, announcing their support for the cultural boycott of Israel.
Lucrative musical acts, including the Rolling Stones and several others have come under the eye of the protest movement, with other major league celebrities including Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd fame, voicing public dissent with Israel’s illegal occupation activities.
BDS France has learned that Eau de Paris, the municipal agency operating the Paris water service, will not be renewing its contract with the Wassermaxx company, which has been bought up by Sodastream.
Sodastream is a company implanted in the Israeli colonies, in violation of international law. Also under scrutiny is the Starbucks coffee company, who was given warning, recently, that if media reports about its intention to purchase a stake in SodaStream prove accurate, it would be deemed complicit in Israel’s violations of international law and would, therefore, face the prospects of popular boycotts and the possibility of legal action.
Students around the world, from New Mexico to Sydney and the UK have engaged in major and historically significant boycott solidarity movements, in the face of huge obstacles imposed by both academic and legislative institutions.
On July 9, 2014, BDS Movement reports, it will be a decade since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion entitled Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which declared the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank illegal under international law.
The Court was clear: it demanded the Wall to be torn down, sanctioned once again Palestinian rights and called upon the international community to enforce Israeli compliance.
For details on this and other BDS movement activities past and present, see link below.