By ELEANOR HEDGES DUROY, age 11

Communities living in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank have been living under Israeli military occupation since 1967. PHOTO: Kashfi Halford
Communities living in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank have been living under Israeli military occupation since 1967. PHOTO: Kashfi Halford

In 2005, Palestinian organizations started the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) to bring attention to struggles in Palestine. The conflict started after World War II, when Palestinians were forced to leave their homes to make room for the new state of Israel that was established for Jewish immigrants, including many Holocaust survivors. In a 1967 war, Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza, driving out another 300,000 Palestinians and establishing a military occupation in these territories.

The BDS* movement argues Palestinians are denied human rights under Israeli rule. It asks people and organizations worldwide to boycott, divest and sanction Israel until the Israeli government tears down the separation wall between Palestine and Israel (which keeps Palestinians from traveling within and leaving their own country without Israeli permission), gives full equality to Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel and respects Palestinians’ rights to maintain and return to their homes under United Nations Resolution 194.

Palestinian woman having her identification card checked by an Israeli Defense Force soldier. PHOTO: Kashfi Halford
Palestinian woman having her identification card checked by an Israeli Defense Force soldier. PHOTO: Kashfi Halford

The BDS movement has growing international support from unions, Christian organizations, university groups and celebrities. Nevertheless, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “Attempts to impose a boycott on the State of Israel are immoral and unjust. Moreover, they will not achieve their goal.” However, Palestinian activist, Diana al-Zeer said to BBC, “We’re here to demand a Palestinian existence on Palestinian land….Palestinian houses here are being demolished, Palestinians are being thrown off their land and we’re here to say ‘no’ to all of this.”**

*BDS activists want people to boycott (not purchase) Israeli-made products, divest (withdraw support) from companies benefitting from human rights violations there and sanction (refuse to trade with) Israel.

**The Israeli government has been bulldozing their houses to make room for new homes for Jewish settlers on Palestinian land, which are illegal under international law. This has made peace talks more complicated.