Below are key calendar dates in August related to Canada and the Middle East, especially Palestinian activism and resistance. Please email [email protected] if you would like to suggest other anniversaries or dates for our "On this day" commemorations.
On this day in 2016, Green Party of Canada members voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS), which seeks to put economic pressure on Israel until it respects international law. With this vote, the Green Party became the first major Canadian political party to put BDS into its official platform. Following the vote, backlash from the party leadership led to the policy eventually being replaced with a “compromise” resolution, which did not mention BDS but nonetheless reaffirmed support for the need to put economic pressure on the Israeli government.
On this day in 2005, Israel began a process of so-called “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, by removing all Israeli military installations, dismantling 21 settlements, and evacuating 9,000 illegal Israeli settlers from the territory. Israel’s decision was for strategic reasons, to “freeze” the peace process and therefore allow Israel to consolidate its settlement presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Far from ending the occupation, however, Israel continued to be an occupying power and in 2007 would impose a brutal air, sea, and land blockade on the people of Gaza.
On this day in 1980, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 478 to reject Israel's annexation of Jerusalem as "a violation of international law,” asserting that this did not change East Jerusalem’s status as occupied territory and that the Fourth Geneva Convention continued to apply. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and formally annexed the territory earlier in 1980. The UNSC resolution determined that "the decision of Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the Holy City of Jerusalem is illegal and therefore null and void and has no validity whatsoever," and urged UN member states to withdraw any diplomatic missions from Jerusalem. The resolution passed 14-0 with the United States abstaining.
On this day in 1953, an Israeli military unit led by Ariel Sharon launched a brutal nighttime attack on the on the Al-Bureij Refugee Camp, committing a massacre that killed up to 50 civilians. According to UN officials, Israelis had thrown bombs through the windows of huts while Palestinian refugees were sleeping, and shot at those who tried to flee. The incident was described as an “appalling case of deliberate mass murder” by the UN’s Mixed Armistice Commission, which was set up to monitor the 1948 truce.
More coming soon...