This might be Israel’s day of independence, but for the Palestinians it is known as al Nakba, “the catastrophe”, marking 500 ruined Palestinian villages and millions of refugees. It is a reminder of the misery and suffering of a nation, generation after generation.
I believe I am right in saying our Nakba is every day, not just once a year. I would like to tell you a little bit about the life that I and millions of other Palestinians endure every day in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Nakba today is the hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank that are manufactured to treat humans like caged animals. It is the people killed in Gaza — medical staff, journalists and UNRWA employees — who are not safe from Israeli attacks.
It is the thousands of houses, mosques and charities destroyed by air strikes. It is the innocent people living in the streets, each with enough misery and experience to fill the pages of a book.
You may not have heard of the woman giving birth at a checkpoint because soldiers did not allow her through to a hospital. Or the whole family who had to enter and leave their house through a window because the Israeli army blocked their door.
There are constant, unending restrictions: you aren’t allowed to look through this window, you may not access your own rooftop, you cannot step out of your house after five in the evening.
Today, Israel is deliberately concealing the realities of day-to-day life in the West Bank and Gaza.
Settlements are increasingly taking away what is left of my country’s land. The number of checkpoints is rising, some of them resembling military bases and with specific opening and closing times.
In Hebron, Palestinians have to go through multiple cages and electronic gates and are body-searched three times in five minutes — simply so they can pray. While Israelis celebrate their independence with parties on the streets of Tel Aviv, their fellow soldiers are proudly stopping frail old men from crossing a checkpoint to get to the Ibrahimi mosque.
In Gaza, youthful soldiers — themselves with no experience of life — film themselves shooting dead Palestinians.
This is the victory of hatred and insanity over morality and compassion.
There is a huge difference in the narratives that Israelis and Palestinians tell their respective sides but I think there are some basic points about the situation today that we should all accept are true.
I do not understand why this situation is called a “conflict”. A conflict requires some sort of power clash, a semblance of parity, but in Palestine and Israel this is not the case.
We have two different sides: one powerful, the other powerless; one armed, the other punished for peaceful resistance; one an occupier and conqueror, the other the occupied and conquered.
If you ever come to Palestine, you will see how there are borders everywhere that we do not control. The West Bank is divided into three zones: Zone A under Palestinian control, Zone B shared by both sides and Zone C under total Israeli administration — and it is the last of these that covers most of the West Bank.
Just anybody can visit, but not every Palestinian can exit.
In its 70th year, Israel is a deeply contradictory country. I hope that, in time, its actions in Palestine today and the steps it took to reach this stage will be fully revealed to the world. I hope that the Palestinians will reverse their situation.
The author is a university student who lives in Ramallah.