While the rest of the world is urged to stay at home and stay safe from a vicious virus, Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem have been fighting against being illegally and forcibly removed from their homes, homes they have been living in for generations.
Under international law, East Jerusalem legally belongs to the Palestinian territories.
However, Israel has been illegally occupying it for many years now. One of the many ways it does so is by helping illegal Israeli settlers take the homes of Palestinians in Palestinian neighbourhoods, leaving Palestinians homeless.
Imagine waking up one day to a knock on your door, being told that you must leave your home, one that your grandparents had built with their blood, sweat and tears. Should you choose to not listen, then you will be forcibly removed through military power.
That is the situation in Sheikh Jarrah right now.
This all comes during the holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from sunrise till sunset.
An Israeli court ruled that six families in Sheikh Jarrah are to leave their homes by force, for illegal Jewish settlers to live in instead.
This situation is accompanied by Israeli forces attacking worshippers inside Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the third holiest place of worship for Muslims.
Israeli forces have continuously attacked men, women, and children while they pray, by breaking the mosque’s windows, shooting rubberised steel bullets, and throwing stun grenades at worshippers inside the mosque, leaving hundreds injured and denying them medical help.
In addition to the attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque, there have also been continuous attacks against the Romanian Church Monastery in Jerusalem.
The situation in Palestine now is not a matter of religion. It is a matter of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, oppression and violence against the Palestinians, be they Muslims, Christians, or any other group.
It is a matter of human rights. The right to live freely. The right to live in a house you built. A house you worked hard to turn into a home. A home that is stolen from you within a day and night.
The Human Rights Watch released a report detailing how Israel’s policies and laws lead to the apartheid and persecution against Palestinians.
The United Nations have also condemned Israel’s war crimes numerous times throughout the years, including the fact that the Israeli settlers are illegal, and that Israel’s actions pose a crime against the Palestinians.
Palestinians do not have any military power or financial aid the way Israel does. But what they do have is a voice.
What people can do is bring enough awareness that itself creates change.
That is what Palestinians and their allies have been doing worldwide, by sharing images, videos, information on all social media platforms, using hashtags such as #savesheikhjarrah, and #redforpalestine.
This situation is perhaps one of the most frustrating things I have ever had to experience.
As a young Maltese-Palestinian living here in Malta, I cannot help but feel helpless at times, not being able to do much. However, I realised that what I can do is try my best to help in amplifying the Palestinian voices in whichever way I can. Hence, the reason behind this article.
What I can do is reach out to people and let them know what is happening, and perhaps reach a turning point in which change is affected. To stand with Palestine is to stand with humanity.
We must start changing the rhetoric and start calling it what it is. It is not an Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because a conflict implies that both sides have somewhat equal amounts of power. The reality is far from it.
This is the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, their oppression. This is apartheid.
Sarah Abdalla is a 25-year-old Maltese-Palestinian who graduated in English Bachelors and read for a Masters degree in Humanitarian Action. She lives in Malta.
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