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MRG stands in solidarity with Palestinians and denounces all violence against civilians

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Today, thousands gather once again in the UK and abroad to protest the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Minority Rights Group International (MRG) stands with all Palestinians, who despite their fragmentation, are united in voicing their peaceful resistance to oppression.

The protests come less than two days after Israel and Hamas agreed a ceasefire following Israel’s 11-day deadly campaign that killed hundreds of Palestinians. MRG condemns the Israeli government’s indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza strip killing hundreds of civilians, including more than 70 children as well as medical staff and journalists. We also condemn the Israeli security forces’ raiding of Al-Aqsa Mosque, arbitrary arrests and killings of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the government-condoned mob violence against Palestinian protesters.

While MRG denounces all forms of racism, antisemitism, violence against civilians, and all loss of life, we reject the dominant ’both sides’ rhetoric that ignores significant differences between one of the world’s most heavily militarised states which wields vast media and economic power, and the Palestinian population resisting oppression and colonialism.

Israel’s recent attacks are part of a longstanding, widespread and systematic policy against the Palestinian population constituting crimes against humanity, including ethnic cleansing, persecution and apartheid. The recent escalation of violence coincided with the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba, when between 1947 and 1949 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes and lands – a process of ethnic cleansing that is ongoing. As a result, these Palestinians and their descendants are refugees in neighbouring countries, the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and across the world. The forced evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, which have most recently grabbed headlines, demonstrate a continuation of this process of progressive occupation and dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

The attacks by the government of Israel on civilian infrastructure – including Palestinian Ministry of Health Building, the only COVID-19 testing lab, schools, and Gaza’s largest bookshop and main publishing house –breaches international law and feeds into the campaign to eliminate Palestinian culture, heritage and survival. Israel’s security forces are targeting the very institutions that support public health and the transfer of knowledge.

The government of Israel must be held accountable for its crimes.

Today’s protests in the UK and across the world highlight wide support from the international community to stand up for the rights of all Palestinians. While consensus recognising Israel as an apartheid state and its perpetration of crimes against humanity continues to grow, it is time for the UN to enforce sanctions on Israel and demonstrate, concretely, a firm commitment to the inherent dignity and worth of all Palestinians, who we must ensure will not be left behind.