Palestine ambassador: Ireland has a strong affinity and connection with our people

We hope this Nakba Day, as we welcome our national women’s football team to Ireland, will be the last one we commemorate without formal recognition of our state

In 1948, my grandmother made dough for bread and left her home when the Zionist militia attacked Yafa and forced its people to flee. She thought she would return in a few hours when the dough would be ready to bake. My grandmother died in Gaza and that dough never become bread.

Since I arrived in Ireland, commemorating the Nakba on May 15th is something that has always been difficult to plan, because no event could ever truly mark the catastrophe that occurred 76 years ago. Three-quarters of the population of historic Palestine was forced to flee their homes by the Zionist militia who sought a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. This systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people was supported and encouraged by the Balfour Declaration in 1917, with a multitude of external sources taking turns to dispossess and displace the indigenous people of Palestine, exiling them, and on our historic homeland, ultimately establishing the state of Israel.

Since 1948, Israel has systematically and relentlessly persisted with its colonisation of Palestine, taking control of the land and ethnically cleansing its indigenous people. For the past 76 years, Israeli policies of colonisation, dispossession, oppression and dehumanisation have culminated in Israel controlling all of historic Palestine, despite the fact that 43 per cent was United Nations-mandated as Palestinian territory.

The UNSC 181 Partition Plan and hundreds of subsequent UN resolutions have all been ignored by Israel, without any consequence or punitive measure from the international community. The UN Partition Plan recommended the establishment of two states, and this is the basis of its recognition of the state of Israel. Despite this, to this day, 76 years later, Israel has persistently denied the right of the Palestinian people to a state. Not only this, it commenced a second Nakba in 2023.

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Since October 7th, Israel launched a vicious aggression against our people in Gaza, with 35,000 killed and tens of thousands maimed or missing under the rubble, the vast majority being women and children. More than 470 people have been killed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Israel in the same period. Israel incarcerates more than 9,000 political prisoners, many of whom have been detained without charge or trial, many of whom are minors and many of whom are subjected to torture or inhumane conditions in Israeli prisons.

Over the past six months, Israel has deliberately targeted the civilian population and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, hospitals, schools, all our universities, mosques, churches and historic architecture. It has killed students, teachers, professors, artists, doctors, surgeons, medical workers, aid workers, 140 journalists. Professions have been decimated. No one is immune.

With each day, the suffering of our people deepens. I have personally lost many of my cousins and their families. We have not been able to grieve or to give our loved ones proper burials. Many of my extended family have been displaced numerous times. The same questions are repeated every time. When will this bloodshed end? When will this unjust war end? When will we get back home and return to a normal life? When will our children have school days again?

The only answer I have for my family in Gaza is that we will get out of this dark tunnel soon. Stay resilient. The whole world is protesting for justice and human rights for the Palestinians. The world’s solidarity will endure. Students and the generation of young people are rising up in protest. Justice will prevail in the end.

In these darkest of days for Palestine, one event that has lightened my heart is to welcome the Palestinian National women’s football team to Ireland. Today, May 15th, the date that commemorates the Nakba, they will play Bohemians FC. We, as a people, are honoured that this event will take place in Ireland, a country that has a strong affinity and connection with the Palestinian people.

Seventy-six years after the first Nakba, it is time for all nations to recognise the state of Palestine, to recognise the right of 13 million Palestinians to self-determination (those in Palestine and in the diaspora), to formally recognise our place in the world. It is time to end the suffering of the Palestinian people and to end the colonisation and occupation of Palestine. It is not tenable for states to say they support the two-state solution but to only recognise one of the two, Israel, which has yet to declare its borders and which openly reiterates its determination that a Palestinian state will never come into existence. For those who advocate for a two-state solution, recognition of a Palestinian state is the only credible path to achieving that and in so doing, create peace and security for Palestinians, the Israelis and by extension, the wider region.

Our right to self-determination, our legitimate aspirations for freedom and justice is well understood by the people of Ireland.

We hope that this Nakba Day, as we welcome our national women’s football team to Ireland, will be the last one we commemorate without formal recognition of our state.

Dr Jilan Wahba Abdalmajid is the ambassador of Palestine to Ireland

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