Palestine Expo was organised on 8 and 9 July 2017 by Friends of Al-Aqsa, a UK based non-profit organisation concerned with defending the human rights of Palestinians and protecting the sacred Al-Aqsa Sanctuary in Jerusalem. This vision is supported by various international groups and organisations. Friends of Al-Aqsa was first established in 1997. Organising the PalExpo in London has a special importance this year as the tragedy of Palestinians started when the British Foreign Secretary, Balfour, promised the Zionist movement in 1917 a land to establish their state. Following that promise, the suffering of Palestinians started and has not ended even until today.
One Hundred Years of the Balfour Declaration
In 1917 James Balfour, British Foreign Secretary wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild. In this letter he promised a national home for the Jewish people, on the land owned by Palestinians. This promise by the British to a land they did not own to a people that did not inhabit it, robbed the Palestinians of their possessions, creating 750,000 Palestinian refugees.
Seventy Years of Expatriation
The actual visible outcomes of Balfour Declaration started to appear in 1947 and reached its peak in the following year when the Zionist troops forced Palestinians to leave their homes in the cities of North Palestine such as Haifa, Java, Safed and Nazareth, allowing their settlers to inhabit them. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians moved to other parts of Palestine including the Gaza Strip and also to other countries in the region and around the world. Today, there are more Palestinians outside Palestine than those living there.
Fifty Years of Occupation
2017 represents 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In 1967, Israel tripled the area it occupied by illegally annexing East Jerusalem and the West Bank by military force. Further, Israel created 350,000 Palestinian refugees, some Palestinians having to move for the second time. Even though international authorities called for complete withdrawal from the lands it occupied in 1967, Israel continues to violate the international laws and provoke the feelings of Muslims and Christians around the world by desecrating their holy places.
Ten Years of Siege on Gaza
The Israeli blockade of Gaza, and attacks in 2008, 2012 and 2014 have compounded the suffering of the people in a beleaguered strip. The people of Gaza are unable to travel freely and are restricted to import essential materials for schools, building houses, hospitals and daily needs. Over 96 per cent of water in Gaza is now unfit for human consumption, and electricity shortages occur daily. Diseases and malnutrition are rife, and according to the UN, by 2020 Gaza may become uninhabitable.