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Local Palestinian joins others in Fargo-Moorhead calling for a ceasefire

News | March 21st, 2024

By Vanessa Jugarap Clark

vanessajugarapclark@gmail.com

"I lived in Gaza, Palestine from 2003 to 2017 and 2020 to 2021. From water cuts, to the electricity schedule of 6-on/12-off (on a good day), every day was a reminder of the occupation," said Abdallah Salha, referring to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Abdallah is a 22-year-old Concordia College student from Gaza, studying Mathematical Finance.

"Each time before leaving Gaza, an Israeli permit is needed to cross to Jordan, to fly out from there," said Abdallah.

Before going to boarding school in Norway, Abdallah received his Norwegian and Jordanian Visas, but was denied by Israel 50 days after he applied. The response came through a Human Rights Organization, Gisha, that was advocating on his behalf. They said the application was rejected by Israel because “it did not meet the criteria.” The Norwegian School was able to make arrangements directly with the Israeli authorities, but Abdallah missed an orientation program.

Again, before coming to Concordia College, Israeli authorities complicated travel from Gaza to Jerusalem, which is where the U.S. Embassy is located. Abdallah was forced to stay in Gaza for a year and three months, as passage to Jordan was much more complicated than in normal times. "Covid was a convenient excuse for the Israeli authorities to tighten the blockade on Gaza," said Abdallah.

While multiple news sources have called the most recent escalations of violence in Palestine, a war between Israel and Hamas, millions of people across the world and in the U.S. — along with humanitarian rights organizations, and countries, who have filed reports with the International Court of Justice — have accused Israel of carrying out genocide against Palestinian people. They cite reports of bombings of what should have been safe zones, such as schools and hospitals, power shutoffs, cutting off aid, and starvation tactics.

Millions of people in countries around the world and in the U.S., have taken to the streets to protest the Israeli attacks, demanding a ceasefire. There was a million man march in Yemen, protesting Israel. Doctors Without Borders have been putting out the call for a ceasefire and calling for more aid to be allowed in, as hospitals have been bombed and power supply to hospitals have been cut off. Doctors Without Borders have had their facilities, staff, and vehicles attacked by the Israeli Army.In January this year, South Africa filed a formal case with the International Court of Justice, formally accusing Israel of genocide.

News reports have cited the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023 as the starting point. However, the occupation of Palestine goes all the way back to 1917.

An online Al Jazeera article from November 27, 2023, titled “Israel-Palestine Conflict: A brief history in maps and charts”, reports:

“The Israeli-Palestinian issue goes back nearly a century when Britain, during World War I, pledged to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine under the Balfour Declaration. A large-scale Jewish migration to Palestine began, accelerated by Jewish people fleeing Nazism in Europe. Between 1918 and 1947, the Jewish population in Palestine increased from 6 percent to 33 percent...Zionist organizations continued to campaign for a homeland for Jews in Palestine. Armed Zionist militias started to attack the Palestinian people, forcing them to flee. Zionism, which emerged as a political ideology in the late 19th century, called for the creation of a Jewish homeland.

As violence ravaged Palestine, the matter was referred to the newly formed United Nations. In 1947, the UN adopted Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, handing over about 55 percent of the land to Jews. Arabs were granted 45 percent of the land, while Jerusalem was declared a separate internationalized territory…Leading up to Israel’s birth in 1948, more than 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes by Zionist militias. This mass exodus came to be known as the Nakba or catastrophe. A further 300,000 Palestinians were displaced by the Six-Day War in 1967…"

An online article from U.S News & World Report from October 10, 2023, reports:

"The U.S. commitment to aiding Israel has long-standing roots. The United States has given Israel more than $260 billion in combined military and economic aid since World War II, plus about $10 billion more in contributions for missile defense systems…For nearly three decades — from fiscal years 1974 to 2002 — Israel was the top recipient of U.S. aid, the longest-standing duration for a top aid recipient dating back to 1946…"

Abdallah is one of several Fargo-Moorhead community members who have been pushing for the cities of Fargo and Moorhead to officially call for a ceasefire. Abdallah gave a speech at the Moorhead Human Rights Commission meeting on February 29, 2024, in regards to Israel as a declared United States ally:

"An ally of the U.S., is supposedly one that is a guardian of civilian rights and liberties, no matter who or where. The conduct we see from Israel is punishment.

The flyers dropped on civilians to flee require technology, while access to technology is severed. They are forcing people to shelter in tents that have served them no protection from rain, cold nights, or bombing.

My sister-in-law’s mother recounted their time being kicked out of North Gaza, then to the south, and again from Khan Younis (a U.N. safe zone), to Rafah, and were told by Israeli soldiers ‘Let Hamas pay. We’re giving you a taste of the nakba.’ That is the 1948 establishment of Israel on stolen Palestinian land.

Today, (February 29th), the Israeli army opened fire at starving Gazans at 4 a.m. as they waited for aid convoys to enter North Gaza. Over 100 were killed, and over 700 were injured."

Abdallah quoted the late Reverend Desmond Tutu, former Chairman of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, saying “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Abdallah continued, telling the Moorhead Human Rights Commission:

"We are here because we feel let down by representative government. The situation's humanitarian gravity seems to weigh less, to the government, than the financial influence of the military industrial complex and war-mongering lobbies.

Commissioners, though we might get told your opinions don't matter in this chamber, we tell them, yes they do. You are a court of public opinion.

Commissioners, if you look at the citizens here, we have Bosnians in our community who, this year, mark 30 years since the Bosnian genocide claimed 100,000 Bosnian lives. We saw videos and documentaries on our screens of safe zones being violated, people starved, and lies spread on TV by war officials…We have Kurdish, Somalian, Liberian, Syrian, Afghani, Iraqi, Rwandan — among many others who have suffered war crimes. We, here, are scarred by memories and traumas of war that are causing dysfunction in our lives. A ceasefire would give us space to be back to being productive Moorhead citizens.”

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