by Jose R. Guerrero

You pass through military checkpoints daily under the threat of bodily harm, harassment, and discrimination in order to work or attend a university. Your home has been demolished and a foreign government has displaced your family when you return.  That’s the least of your worries for if you do not find shelter,  a shower of illegal airstrikes may soon precipitate.

A boy stands in the rubble of a destroyed shop in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza, on Monday, November 26. (Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images via CNN.com)

Israel, according to some scholars, has illegally expanded and occupied Palestinian territories by the use of armed conflict and war, thus displacing and creating millions of refugees who constantly suffer human rights violations by the Israeli military.  The uprooted Palestinian civilians from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war became refugees; an estimated 711,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1948 and as of 2010, the descendants of these refugees are estimated to include 4.7 million people.

Palestinian refugees exist in neighboring countries that have taken it upon themselves to sustain refugees that they have no legal obligation to assist.  The Gaza Strip and West Bank are by far the most disputed territories by both Palestine and Israel.  The Israeli government has contested that no nation has had clear rights over some of the disputed areas and thus found it reasonable to occupy what they call “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”  And although Israeli forces have withdrawn since 2005, Israel still exerts much power over Gaza as it controls all of its external borders–aerospace, territorial waters–while exerting control over government functions through military force.

The eight-day conflict last November between Palestinian and Israeli forces was ignited by the illegal demolition of Palestinian homes and buildings in territories under Israeli control.  According to the United Nations, Israeli forces “denied West Bank Palestinian communities access to natural resources and basic utilities, displacing nearly 900 people.”   Free speech and other political and human rights were stifled by an Israeli military that, according to Human Rights Watch, “carried out arbitrary arrests, harassed journalists and bloggers, and beat and assaulted peaceful demonstrators.”

The larger problem of creating a Palestinian state is held back by human rights violations like these, carried out with impunity.  The original 1947 UN Partition Plan designated the creation of two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state, but is no longer the most viable resolution. Given the decades of human rights violations in the territories of Palestine, ranging from the outright refusal of basic necessities to limitations on education and free speech, a form of reparative justice is more appropriate.  A Palestinian state will undoubtedly be a platform from which to implement reparative justice to refugees and civilians living in Palestinian territories.

The international community has an obligation to rectify these violations and implement true democratic and reparative measures to ensure that violations like these occur neither in Palestine nor in other endangered states that suffer from shifting political/military atmospheres.  The Jewish population worldwide views Israel as a refuge from anti-Semitism, a homeland that needs to be guarded and protected from enemies. but peaceful coexistence is possible with international involvement and understanding.

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