If you go

What: Living under Israeli occupation

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Humanities Building, Room 250, CU Boulder campus

More info: centerfj.org/en

Israel’s recent massacre of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza has drawn much condemnation around the world. However, the U.S. government and much of the U.S. media have attempted to downplay Israel’s war crimes and, incredibly, to blame Hamas for Israel’s slaughter of innocents.

Lost in the attention on the massacres is the continuing illegal Israeli siege of Gaza (abetted by Egypt and the U.S.) as well as Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank.

The 11-year siege of Gaza, compounded by the numerous horrifically devastating and murderous attacks on Gaza, have made Gaza a living hell. For example, there is little access to safe water, only a few sporadic hours of electricity daily, and little sanitation. The homes for nearly 60,000 Palestinians were destroyed by Israel in the 2014 attack alone. Israel’s siege denies Palestinians material for rebuilding or repairing the devastation done by the Israeli attacks. Palestinians have few economic opportunities due to the siege and lack of materials, especially water. It is also incredibly difficult for Palestinians to leave Gaza. In 2017, Robert Piper, the U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator for the occupied territories, said that the point “of unlivability (had) been passed quite a long time ago.”

Despite this living hell, the Palestinians persevere. In fact, these recent marches near the border fences with Israel show they are not going to give up their rights, particularly the right to return to their homes or for reparation that was recognized by U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 passed in 1948.

Although the Israeli occupation of the West Bank has not created a similar situation to Gaza yet, West Bank Palestinian life is very harsh. Israel applies cruel military law to Palestinians and civilian laws to Israelis in the West Bank. Palestinians routinely encounter injustice when they enter the Israeli military courts. In addition, Palestinians are denied adequate water to meet their needs while Israeli colonists have all the water they need. Palestinians face multiple checkpoints and road blocks when traveling, while Israelis travel on high-speed Jewish-only roads. Making matters worse, Israel continues to steal more Palestinian lands and build more illegal colonies on these lands. Every Israeli settler (colonist) resides there in violation of international law.

At 7 p.m. Friday, May 25, in the Humanities Building, Room 250 on the CU Boulder campus, you can learn more about life under Israeli occupation from Ahmed Oudeh, founder of the Center for Freedom and Justice. The Center teaches the practice of nonviolence and stresses grass-roots community empowerment with ongoing projects in Beit Ummar and surrounding communities focused on small farmers, youth and women. The center works closely with Israelis who oppose the occupation and believe in rights for Palestinians.

Despite the horrific conditions they experience, Palestinians persevere and manage to maintain their dignity.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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