Commemoration of the 57th Anniversary of Jerusalem’s Occupation Amidst Genocide in Gaza and Escalating Tensions in the West Bank

June 5, 2024

On the fifty-seventh anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the city faces intensified Judaization and settlement campaigns. This commemoration coincides with an ongoing genocide in the Gaza Strip, now entering its ninth month, which has resulted in a devastating humanitarian crisis.

Each year, Palestinians mark June 5 as the anniversary of the Naksa (“setback”), a term referring to the 1967 Six-Day War and the subsequent occupation. This year’s commemoration is especially poignant due to the severe impact of the prolonged war in Gaza, which has led to over 117,000 casualties, including the dead and wounded, and has displaced approximately 2 million people. Furthermore, 10,000 individuals are reported missing, with thousands more detained, and nearly 70% of Gaza’s buildings have been destroyed.

In the West Bank and Jerusalem, there has been a marked increase in Israeli attacks and settlement activities. These actions are accompanied by heightened Judaization efforts and measures aimed at eroding the Palestinian presence and altering the city’s Arab and Islamic identity.

Israeli authorities have been intensifying their efforts to assert control over Jerusalem, including prolonged daily settler raids into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, aiming to enforce a temporal and spatial division of the holy site.

This year, “temple groups” are planning a large-scale storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on what they refer to as “Jerusalem Day,” with calls to raise the Israeli flag during the event. These actions reflect extremist groups’ ambitions to monopolize the mosque exclusively for Jewish religious observances, excluding Muslim worshippers during Israeli and Jewish holidays.

The Israeli flag march is scheduled to commence at 6:00 PM on June 5, from the center of Jerusalem, circling the Old City gates and culminating in Al-Buraq Square. This demonstration of nationalistic fervor underscores the broader agenda of establishing a dominant Jewish presence in the city.

Amid these tensions, the Israeli authorities have demanded that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) vacate its headquarters in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Citing unauthorized land use, they have also demanded back rent amounting to 27,125,280 shekels (approximately 7.2 million USD), along with annual usage fees.

This development follows recent right-wing protests demanding UNRWA’s closure, including arson attacks near the agency’s headquarters. Furthermore, the Israeli Knesset has advanced a draft law to revoke UNRWA’s privileges and immunity, signaling an intensified campaign to dismantle the agency, undermine the refugee issue, and solidify control over Jerusalem.

Europeans for al-Quds, an organization monitoring human rights violations, reports a significant increase in abuses targeting the Palestinian community. These violations include direct attacks on individuals, efforts to displace residents, and assaults on religious freedoms, impacting both Muslim and Christian holy sites.

On June 5, 1967, Israeli forces completed the occupation of Jerusalem within two days, establishing control that persists to this day. Since then, policies aimed at altering the city’s demographic and cultural landscape have continued unabated, manifesting in settlement expansion, renaming streets, and removing symbols of Palestinian and Arab identity.

On this significant anniversary, Europeans for al-Quds underscores the following points:

Demand to End the Occupation: We call for an immediate end to the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem and all associated grave practices and violations against the city’s indigenous inhabitants.

International Community Responsibility: We urge the international community to uphold its responsibilities, as Jerusalem is recognized as occupied territory based on historical rights and United Nations resolutions. Any measures or practices enforced by military power cannot alter this status.

Illegality of De Facto Measures: We affirm the illegality of any unilateral actions by the occupying authorities in Jerusalem. All measures taken since the city’s occupation in 1967 do not change its status as occupied territory under international law.

Solidarity with Jerusalemites: We express our unwavering solidarity with the residents of Jerusalem, who are enduring one of the most intense ethnic cleansing campaigns of the modern era. We call on the global community to support and protect their right to remain on their ancestral land.

Condemnation of the Gaza War: We strongly condemn the ongoing genocidal war in the Gaza Strip and demand an immediate ceasefire. It is imperative to prevent Israel from furthering its plans to annihilate the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza through killing, arrest, and displacement.

Support for UNRWA: We reject any actions or decisions aimed at terminating UNRWA’s operations in Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. UNRWA symbolizes the Palestinian refugee issue and their right to return, as guaranteed by United Nations resolutions.

Mobilizing Palestinian Support in Europe: We call for the continued mobilization of Palestinian support across Europe. This includes leveraging popular, political, legal, and media channels, especially in Italy, to advocate for the just Palestinian cause, with a particular focus on Jerusalem.

European Union’s Role: We urge EU countries to fulfill their responsibilities by compelling the occupying state to adhere to international law and UN resolutions, including the Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilians. The EU must act to stop state terrorism against Palestinian civilians in Jerusalem, ensure they can perform their religious rituals in mosques and churches, and curb settler violence against Palestinians and their property.

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