The Israeli occupation is advancing plans to Judaize Palestinain cities and villages with a significant Palestinian population in favor of Israeli settlement expansion and obliterating Palestinian identity.
‘Israel’ illegally occupied Palestinian lands since 1948 including Jerusalem in defiance of the international community and wasted no time in declaring the city as its “eternal, undivided” capital.
Using a series of measures that involve massive land grabs, rapid construction of colonial settlements, and the imposition of a repressive system on Palestinians designed to stifle their daily lives and push them out of their cities, the Israeli occupation has managed to change the demographic makeup of several Palestinian cities and entrench their control over it.
Today, 86 percent of Palestinain lands are under the direct control of the Israeli occupation and colonial settlers. Around 200,000 settlers live in settlements that have been mostly built either entirely or partially on private Palestinian property.
Of that number, 2,000 settlers live in the midst of Palestinian neighborhoods under high Israeli protection.
The apartheid wall, which the Israeli occupation initiated building in 2002, snakes through the occupied West Bank lands, dividing villages, encircling towns, and splitting Palestinian families from each other.
It has also impacted Palestinian Jerusalemites: more than 140,000 residents living in occupied Jerusalem neighborhoods are detached from the rest of the holy city and as a result, suffer from a severe lack of essential assistance and infrastructure.
The Israeli regime has also worked on setting a greater Jewish colonial majority in occupied Palestinian lands at a ratio of 70-30 to prevent the realization of Palestinian national aspirations.
On July 19, 2018, the Israeli Knesset passed the “nation-state bill“, practically making apartheid official by describing ‘Israel’ as the national homeland of the Jewish people and marginalizing the Palestinian people, their history, and their language. However, that bill was the mere culmination of decades-long efforts.
During the British occupation of historical Palestine, the colonial regimes, for example, were using predominantly Arabic names of localities, towns, and villages; there were nearly 3,700 of them.
Nonetheless, there were just 200 Hebrew toponyms, most of them being names of Jewish settlements, including new ones that were being built under the patronage of the Zionist movement.
This was quite indicative of the demographic distribution and land ownership in Palestine at the time (at the beginning of the British occupation in the 1920s, the Jews, including newly arrived settlers, were just 11 percent of the whole population).
However, as soon as the Israeli occupation was created against the will of the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab population of the Middle East, a brutal campaign to “remap” Palestine was launched.
Most of the Palestinian villages were intentionally destroyed by Israel during and after the 1948 war or gradually dilapidated due to lack of official care as they were not considered heritage sites worthy of preservation.
For Israeli occupation, erasing Palestine and writing the Palestinian people out of the history of their own homeland have always been a strategic endeavor.
Since 1948, Israel’s Zionist movement has waged a campaign to rename Palestinian locations, demolish Palestinian historical landmarks, claim Palestinian culture, devalue Arabic, and erase the cultural contributions of the Palestinian people.
In more recent times, the Israeli military has attacked Palestinians violently, killing Palestinians while also destroying historically significant cultural landmarks and places of worship.
Israeli occupation destroyed 73 mosques during its 51-day assault on Gaza’s besieged Gaza Strip in 2014, according to official Palestinian reports.
Some of these mosques are historic buildings that are over a thousand years old, like the al-Omari Mosque in Gaza. The Al-Omari Mosque, which was constructed almost 1365 years ago, has been a source of inspiration and a reminder of former splendor for Palestinians in Gaza.
The third-holiest site in Islam, Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, is also under increased pressure from the Israeli regime.
It has made it easier for Israeli settlers to forcibly invade the courtyards of the mosque.
Temple Mount Faithful, an extremist Jewish group, stated that it is eager to demolish the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to erect the so-called “Third Temple on Temple Mount”.
Furthermore, Israeli occupation repeatedly attacks Palestinian cultural heritage in Nablus, al-Khalil (Hebron), Ariyha (Jericho), Yaffa (Jaffa), Haifa, and many other Palestinian towns and villages.
Nevertheless, despite all of this devastation, Israel continues to harbor political and intellectual insecurities regarding its past and future.