15 May 2017 marks the 69th anniversary of the start of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military presence in the Palestinian Territories has been declared an internationally condemned occupation by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, and other various human rights organizations and UN Member States. According to The Hague Conventions of 1907 and Article 50 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, there are a number of conditions an Occupying Power must follow in order for occupation to be permissible under international law. However, due to the continued building of settlements in the West Bank, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law as a violation of Article 49, stating that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.
Every year on 15 May, Palestinians around the world take the streets to protest Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories and Israel’s Independence Day, which led to the forced removal of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1998, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat officially declared 15 May as Nakba Day, or ‘Catastrophe Day’. In response, Israeli government officials introduced a ‘Nakba Law’ in the Knesset, which authorizes the Israeli Finance Minister to “revoke funding from institutions that reject Israel's character as a "Jewish state" or mark the country's Independence Day as a day of mourning” (Al Jazeera).
This Nakba Day, Palestinians are also commemorating the 29th day of the ongoing hunger strike carried out by Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli prisons. The prisoners are demanding more visitation and communication rights with family members, better living conditions, and more medical services. Many claim that conditions in Israeli prisons violate the Third Geneva Convention, which call for humane treatment of political prisoners.
Israel's alleged violations under international law have triggered numerous United Nations Resolutions that condemn Israeli policies that inflict on Palestinians' human rights. Every Nakba Day, therefore, addresses these alleged violations and calls for Israel to cooperate under international law and international humanitarian law.