Each year, November 29 has been marked by the international community to reaffirm its solidarity with the people of Palestine. Starting in 1978, the day was chosen by the United Nations because of its meaning and significance to the Palestinian people.
Traditionally, the day is observed to educate the public on Palestine issues and find and support a peaceful settlement where the Palestinian people are able to have national sovereignty.
The fact is that even after so many deliberations, the issues remain unresolved and the Palestinian people are yet to attain their inalienable rights as defined by the General Assembly, mainly, their right to self-determination, the right to national independence and sovereignty, and the right to return to their homes and property, from which they have been displaced.
Millions of Palestinians face dreadful humanitarian and socio-economic conditions having been deprived of their basic rights and displaced from their homes. Most Palestinian refugees and their descendants live in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in neighbouring Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.
Reports indicate that currently 4.75 million Palestinians, who are spread across the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, are living a miserable life with a lack of proper sanitation, education, power, and water. Apart from their poor living conditions, they are constantly under the threat of Israeli attacks.
Almost half of the Palestinian population requires humanitarian aid, with the protracted humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported an increase in the levels of mental disorders among the population of the Gaza Strip, especially among children, many of whom were already in need of mental health services and psychosocial support.
OCHA, which keeps track of the casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, shows that 5,600 Palestinians died in 2020, and 115,000 were injured in the long-running conflict. During the same period, 250 Israelis lost their lives and 5,600 were injured.
"More than 65 per cent of the population of Gaza live below the poverty line, and more than 60 per cent are unemployed", says Dr Sami Owaida of the Gaza Mental Health Programme.
According to an UN-sponsored study “Palestinian Youth Challenges and Aspirations” show that 20 per cent of youth were subjected to at least one form of violence with 19 per cent males and 33 per cent females, a third of them were subjected to physiological violence, 38 per cent to physical violence, and 1 per cent to sexual violence.
Even as the war in Ukraine and other global events have pushed the Palestinian issue out of media headlines and political debate, the international community needs to take steps to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the plight of Palestine refugees.
This was rightly pointed out by Secretary-General António Guterres at an ad hoc committee of the UN when he said, “millions of Palestine refugees are counting on us to relieve their suffering and to help them build a better future. We cannot let them down.”
Palestine currently enjoys bilateral recognition from 139 countries following the Declaration of Independence by the Palestine National Council on November 15, 1988, in Algiers.
The Sultanate of Oman is among the countries that underline the fairness of the Palestinian cause and the legitimacy of its people’s demands for independence. Oman has always expressed its concern over the perpetuation of policies of aggression, settlement, military escalation, and atrocities against the Palestinian people, especially women and children.
In a speech to the 76th session of the UN, the Omani leadership supported the two-state solution and the Palestinian people’s call for the establishment of their own state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with international law, resolutions of the Security Council and the Arab Peace Initiative.
The international community needs to work together for the establishment of fair and lasting peace in the Middle East to help safeguard the interests and rights of all parties. The world must stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and advocate against the Israeli government’s actions.
After all, the people of Palestine deserve justice and a safe place to live and thrive, too. Their human rights must be upheld, and they are given the chance to live in peace.