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General Assembly mourns, advocates for Palestinians in Gaza

 

GA223 resolution deplores the violence and loss of life

 By Douglas Dicks | Special to the Presbyterian News Service

Twenty-one-year-old medical aid worker Razan al-Najjar, memorialized on Israel’s separation barrier/wall in Bethlehem. She was shot dead at the border fence between Gaza and Israel on June 1. Douglas Dicks

JERUSALEM – At the 223rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) one of the Middle East resolutions that was approved in record time was a Commissioners Resolution (12-10) “On Gaza Violence,” expressing “profound grief and sorrow for the families of all Palestinians killed in the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border.”

The names of all of those Palestinians killed by Israeli forces were appended to the resolution, and can be found with their photos and stories at this website: israelpalestinetimeline.org. The website also keeps a running score of all Palestinians and Israelis killed as a consequence of the occupation since September 2000.

Only a day after Resolution 12-10 was passed, Palestinian Civil Society in Gaza requested that cities and town across the world be plastered with the images and photos of those killed, “especially opposite Israeli and American embassies.” It even provided a link to the pictures and photographs of the fallen demonstrators.

A group of Israeli activists, calling themselves “Return,” responded to the call by Palestinian Civil Society and hung photos of the slain protesters along the razor-wire fence that separates Gaza from Israel.

The final wording of Resolution 12-10 expresses its profound grief and sorrow for the families of all Palestinians killed in the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border, prays for the well-being and recovery of all who have been wounded and injured, deplores the killing of more than twenty clearly marked Palestinian medics serving the wounded, renews the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s call for an end to the blockage of Gaza by Israel assisted by Egypt in keeping its borders closed to those seeking safety and refuge, and urges both U.S. and international support for basic human value for all Palestinians and Israelis despite the lack of a peace process or viable two-state solution.

The protests began on March 30, also known as Land Day, when Palestinians commemorate the day in 1976 when six Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces for protesting land expropriation orders in the Galilee. They have continued every Friday since, culminating on May 15, the day that Palestinians mourn the loss of their homes in what they call “Al Nakba,” or The Catastrophe, and a date that Israel celebrates as its independence and birth as a nation. May 14 also coincides with U.S. President Donald Trump’s move of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On that day alone, while American and Israeli politicians celebrated, at least fifty-eight Palestinians were killed.

Two thirds of the population of the Gaza Strip — which is currently estimated at over 1.9 million people — are refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. More than 750,000 Palestinians were either driven from, expelled or fled their homes and their lands in the wake of the fighting. 

The Great March of Return was a call from Palestinian Civil Society in Gaza to remind the world of their rights that are enshrined in international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, which was passed on December 11, 1948, states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible.”

To date, at least 135 demonstrators have been killed, and more than 14,000 injured, in protests that began on March 30.


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