Palestine: The world needs to act

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As Gaza is besieged and bombed from land, sea, and air by Israeli weaponry, third generation Palestinian refugee Shahd Abusalama explains why the world needs to act now.

My name’s Shahd Abusalama, and I’m standing here in Sheffield Town Hall protesting with thousands of people for freedom, justice, equality, and Palestine. I am a third generation Palestinian refugee. Born and raised in Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza. And Gaza right now is besieged from land, sea, and air by Israeli weaponry and is being bombarded from all directions. Indiscriminate fire, mass killing, mass destruction. So far we are counting more than 130 people killed in Gaza. The majority are civilians. Massacre after another, the horror is incredible. And our families are literally appealing from under the severe bombardments and hoping to survive, I mean, like they cannot even guarantee they can be alive the next minute or next hour because like the bombing is everywhere across the Gaza Strip.

But what I want people to know right now is that what is happening in Gaza is not disconnected from what is happening elsewhere across Palestine and what is happening today, on the anniversary of Nakba, today, actually, the main occasion why everybody is standing here is to commemorate 73 years of ethnic cleansing, ongoing campaign of ethnic cleansing. And right now you can see this happening. As we stand here, as I speak, in Gaza, in Haifa, in Jerusalem, the Palestinian families are being kicked out of their homes by settlers who believe that they have a divine right that gives them the power to kick people out from their own homes that they’ve lived in one generation after the other. This settler colonialism happening in the most brutal form. And the Palestinians in Hebron are also under military zones.

And in the past few days, I was with friends all across Palestine from the north to the south. Reporting from the ground what is happening, the repression of Israeli military and settler extremist groups is beyond description, and no one is safe in their homes. It is indiscriminate repression. And the only crime that Palestinians are committing is that they are holding their grounds in their own homelands. They are calling for freedom from this brutal regime that has been already called out by so many human rights organisations and international organisations, condemning it for the crime of apartheid against the Palestinians. The inherent recent racist character of the supremacist ideology of Zionism, that that is basically dictating the policies and practices of dehumanisation against the Palestinians.

We are counting one massacre after the other, one victim after the other. And it’s just non stop. And we don’t want more condemnation or declarations. We don’t want to hear calls for de-escalation. We want Israel to be held accountable. And it’s long overdue, that justice is served for the Palestinians. It is long overdue that Palestinian refugees like me, return to their home. It’s wrong; it’s morally disturbing that Jews anywhere in the world, in the US, can go and claim a right to return to Palestine when I, the indigenous people of Palestine, cannot return. And our right is an inalienable right, and it’s entrenched in international law. Why deny it to the Palestinians, we have to keep reminding of what is happening over and over again, and re-traumatize ourselves and be under oppression uninterrupted before the eyes of the whole world. While the world is watching. This is not enough.

And this reflects on how humanity right now is facing such a crisis really. There is moral bankruptcy that Israel is advocating for. And international media and their pious narrative justifying Israeli crimes is also feeding into this. And right here in Sheffield, for example, that we are we standing right now next to a branch by the HSBC that supports Caterpillar. They have taken part in the building of the apartheid wall, the segregation wall that divides Palestinian communities from one another, and confiscates Palestinian lands. Something must be done. Something must be done urgently. And the world needs to act. Thank you.

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