MARY KELLY. The horrifying reality of a military occupation.

I recently spent some months living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  I was shocked, deeply distressed and angered by what I witnessed on a daily basis. Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation experience a relentless, dehumanising, brutal and intimidating regime managed by the Israeli Defence Force and supported by hundreds of thousands of illegal settlers. 

I lived in a small Palestinian village in the West Bank.  In my village alone, four twelve year old boys were arrested and taken away during some of the several night raids we endured. In the dead of night, dozens of heavily armed Israeli soldiers would invade our village. They would fire a particularly noxious tear gas through the narrow streets, causing most of us to be quite sick for days after as it seeped through the windows and doors. Three family houses were demolished and the only school was closed for future demolition. One hundred and fifty olive trees belonging to poor villagers were uprooted with bulldozers one night by the local armed settlers to make way for the expansion of their nearby illegal settlement.

During my travels around the West Bank, frustratingly slow as I had to queue at dozens of Israeli checkpoints, I discovered that so many other villages were suffering the same injustices and indignities on a frequent basis.

It isn’t much better for Palestinians living in Israel as, just before I arrived, the Israeli Knesset passed the “Nation-State” bill, which embeds into Israel’s constitution the denial of equality under the law for Palestinian citizens of Israel (one fifth of the population) who are already subject to more than sixty laws that directly discriminate against them. Only a matter of weeks ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “Israel is a nation-state of the Jewish and them alone”.

I travelled down to the “open prison” of the Gaza Strip as I wanted to visit an old friend of mine who is teaching there. I could not gain entrance. Here, over 1.8 million people live, crammed into a tiny piece of land.  For the last eleven years, Gaza has endured an inhumane and crippling siege, with all its air, land and sea communications blockaded. My friend has described to me the devastation wrought by this blockade and numerous military assaults. As a result, bombed schools and hospitals cannot be rebuilt and the population has no regular access to power, water or adequate food. This has basically created a ghetto and the UN has predicted that Gaza will be a human disaster in a matter of only a few years. And now, on my return to Australia, I learn that Israel is carrying out another bombing assault and is poised to escalate this bombardment.

Saturday 30 March 2019 marked one year since the start of the “Great Return March” which has seen thousands of protesters demonstrating every week for the end of the blockade and their fundamental right of return to their homes from which they were expelled in 1948 and 1967. Very recently, a UNHCR Commission of Enquiry adopted a report which accused Israel of committing war crimes against unarmed civilians along the Gaza fence, including medics, disabled people, journalists, women and children.  Israeli snipers used internationally illegal “butterfly” bullets which explode on impact, as well as new forms of gas attack. These demonstrators did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot, nor were they directly participating in hostilities. Since the start, over 200 demonstrators have been killed and over 27,000 injured. That is more than during the entire 2014 war on Gaza. Israel is an occupying power under international law and is obliged to protect the people of Gaza and ensure their welfare. This is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

On top of all this, Israel has further entrenched its system of oppression and continues to rapidly expand illegal settlements in defiance of international law.

Recently, President Trump cut American funds to UNRWA, a matter of huge humanitarian concern. It appears this is part of a wider attempt to redefine the refugee status of millions of displaced Palestinians and erase their fundamental right of return.

A few weeks ago, Netanyahu made a deal with Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), the successor to Meir Kahane’s fascist party, in advance of the upcoming Israeli elections. This party openly calls for the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestine. Also, Netanyahu’s rival in these elections, Benny Gantz, has bragged of sending Gaza back to the “stone age”.

So, in all that I have witnessed, experienced and have been told, it seems to me that Israel, while giving lip service to the notion of a two-state solution, is operating a strategic plan to intensify its serious assault on the collective rights of the Palestinian people.

Now, wrapped up in the peace and security of Canberra, I do wonder, if we had all been forced out of our homes and had lived under a brutal military occupation for the last 50 years, how would we all feel, think and behave?

Mary Kelly is a retired High School teacher who has lived in many parts of the world, including the Middle East. She has, for many years,  been a strong and active advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people.




This entry was posted in Human Rights, International Affairs. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to MARY KELLY. The horrifying reality of a military occupation.

  1. Rex Williams, Australians for Justice says:

    Thank you, Mary for your detailed descriptions of life in Zionist occupied Palestine, all such conditions for the Palestinians sanctioned by the Jewish controlled US Senate and House of Representatives. They should hang their heads in shame. If only the apathetic American public really knew.

    As an ex-Ptime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon once said, “We own America”. The same Ariel Sharon approved the murder if 3500 men women and children in Shatila and Sabra, (see Human Rights Watch). Yet Israel is supported in every criminal act by the USA
    And this is the country that we support like a lapdog on every occasion in Australia
    Palestine is just part of Israel’s grand plan to control the middle east, those specific areas of interest to the 400 nuclear-armed Israel as it uses on a daily basis the corrupt mainstream media to distort the facts of their fascism and barbarism.
    It really is a question in 2019 of who it is that represents best the climate that existed under Nazi rule in the 1940’s, the USA with its despicable performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo or Israel with its history of Sabra and Shatila, phosphorous bombing of Palestinians and the mindless murders of so many thousands to achieve their aims, even after countless UN resolutions against such cruelty were passed.

    So much for the UN, nothing but a US /Israel dictated social club these days.

    The world needs respected people like you, Mary to tell what they have seen and how it really is rather than to listen to the lies and distortions from the likes of the Murdoch media outlets and the plethora of well planned Zionist-owned mainstream media across most countries in the world. with their ‘false news’

    Be confident that the arrogance and hateful cruelty from Israel across Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon and with Iran in their sights as well, with exact an eventual reaction from the decent countries of our world.

  2. Kien Choong says:

    Thanks for this article. The Australian media should pay closer attention to the wellbeing of the Palestinian peoples, who like Australia’s indigenous peoples, have been dispossessed by European settlers.

    Europeans ought to reflect on their responsibility towards the Palestinian peoples. Especially since the State of Israel does not have the ability (or willingness) to address the hardship suffered by the Palestinians. The EU could recognise the Palestinian State, and offer to extend EU membership to Palestine. Or at least grant Palestinians the same right as any EU citizen to travel and live anywhere in the EU.

    This will not only help the Palestinians who choose to settle in the EU, it would also help the Palestinians who remain behind, through remittances from Palestinians in Europe. And I am sure the Palestinians have a lot to contribute to Europeans (over time), just as Jews have contributed to enriching European societies.

    I am neither Muslim, nor Arab, and would like to think that I am expressing these sentiments as an impartial observer.

  3. Tony Mitchell says:

    ” Israel has no greater friend than President Trump”. So declares the execrable Netanyahu, the corrupt leader of a people, many of whom we are told, do NOT support their country’s naked oppression of the Palestinians. And in the Wentworth by-election the ignorant FauxMo endorsing Trump’s highly inflammatory recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital…………..leading in part to the surprise loss of Tremble’s safe seat!
    Can we only hope, Mary, that good people everywhere will see to the end of the injustices you have detailed. There is nothing as powerful as a first-hand report. It will not be in vain.

  4. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    Thank-you, Mary.
    Here’s a clue: Indigenous Australians have been ‘occupied’ for 2 centuries; and, despite billions of revenue spent on ‘them’ they are still significantly-featured in dismal social – indicators (suicide, mental health, school-dropout) – and still, many of them, resisting the ‘narrative’ forced on them by Australian realpolitikians – ‘reconciliation’ (see Mr Rigney in Bret Walker SC’s Report to the SA Government this year); on ‘recognition’ on any number of dotty public relations supports to the advertising industry : Walking Together, Closing the Gap… absent the weaponry – the hypocrisy/ the doublespeak – is identifiably the same stratagem.

Comments are closed.