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The Palestinian flag will be raised and waved in all corners of the world

Palestinian demonstrators wave the national flag in the city of Tubas on June 6, 2022 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]
Palestinian demonstrators wave the national flag in the city of Tubas on June 6, 2022 [JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP via Getty Images]

The colonial-settler state of Israel has stolen more than three-quarters of Palestine and the mass thefts of land by Zionist militias are still ongoing.

As if occupying Palestinian land wasn't enough, Israel also appropriates Palestinian culture by claiming hummus and couscous as "Israeli" dishes and hosting beauty pageants that misrepresent traditional Palestinian dresses.

Another defining element of Palestinian identity threatened for years by the illegal occupation is the generational farming practice of planting and harvesting olive trees.

In brazen violation of international law, more than one million olive trees have been uprooted since 1967.

Recent weeks have notably revealed Israel's latest target in its more than seven-decades-long erasure project of Palestinian people, identity and culture: Palestine's ultimate display of resistance and peace – its bold, four-coloured flag.

Palestinian activists have reported being targeted when waving Palestinian flags in Jerusalem. They have also witnessed an increase in Israeli efforts to confiscate Palestinian flags and punish those who attempt to raise them.

Israel soldiers attack Palestinians resisting forceful eviction in Sheikh Jarrah [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah are being replaced with Israeli settlers as Israeli soldiers vacate the Palestinian property by force – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

On the day of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh's murder, Israeli occupation forces raided her family home while her relatives received condolences and tore down a Palestinian flag.

Moreover, during her funeral in Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades, and kicked and beat Palestinians with batons, as they attempted to snatch national flags away. The assault almost caused the coffin, draped with a Palestinian flag, to be dropped to the floor.

Last week, Israel's Knesset parliament passed the preliminary reading of a controversial bill that would ban flying the Palestinian flag in state-funded institutions.

According to the bill, at most public institutions, displaying the flag of "any enemy state" would be illegal under the legislation, though only the Palestinian flag is specifically mentioned.

"Flying such flags will be considered an illegal gathering that will be dealt with like a riot that can be dispersed," the bill reads. The state of Israel, as a democracy, allows its citizens to protest against issues where they disagree with the authorities. However, this bill draws a red line between legitimate protest and protests during which flags are flown of those who do not recognise the state of Israel, or pose a threat to its existence at state-funded bodies.

The meaning behind Israel's attempts to criminalise the flag is not complicated to understand, nor does it come as a surprise.

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The flag is raised daily with pride by millions worldwide and has long been used as a national symbol of Palestinian solidarity in popular movements, considered a violation of Israeli sovereignty, even though it is an occupying power.

Meanwhile, thousands of Israeli ultra-nationalists conducted the so-called flag march last month, which resulted in the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – Islam's third holiest site – in violation of the status quo.

The flag march is an annual rally planned by Israeli far-right activists as part of celebrations to commemorate Israel's 1967 occupation and subsequent illegal annexation of Jerusalem.

Videos shared widely on social media from the day of the march showed mobs of ultra-nationalists chanting racist and highly provocative slogans about Arabs, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), journalist Abu Akleh and Mohammad Abu Khdair, the child who was kidnapped, tortured, forced to drink petrol and then burnt to death by Israeli settlers in 2014.

However, no attempt to prevent the chants by the Israeli forces was made. The soldiers, who routinely and forcibly attack Palestinian protests in Jerusalem over political chanting charged as "incitement" also did not intervene.

Racist slogans chanted by the Israeli extremists included "Shu'afat is on fire" (referring to Abu Khdair), "A Jew is a soul, an Arab is a son of a whore", "Death to the Arabs", "Muhammad is dead" and "May your village burn". One video shows them chanting, "Shireen is a whore".

Simultaneously, hundreds of Palestinians organised a peaceful march with Palestinian flags near the Damascus Gate area on Salah Al-Din Street.

This was enough for Israeli soldiers to fire rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs at participants in an attempt to disperse them, according to witnesses who said the participants had raised Palestinian flags and chanted pro-Palestine slogans calling for freedom and justice.

The flag march, evidently nothing short of racist provocation, took place the day Israel's parliament voted to outlaw the display of "enemy" flags at state-funded institutions.

The push to ban the Palestinian flag is just another extreme measure to show the extent to which Israel will go to repress Palestinian national existence and why Israeli soldiers went so far as to attack the pallbearers carrying the coffin of Abu Akleh.

Attached to its vibrant green, white, black and red colour is the representation of global unity and self-determination protesting against the ongoing occupation, continuing dispossession and expulsion.

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It carries a history of struggle and sacrifices against Israeli apartheid, honouring those who survived immense tragedies while remaining steadfast on the land of their ancestors, hence the irrational fear of the flag that strikes Israelis.

Whereas Israel's increasing paranoia reflects uneasiness from its government's instability. Its white and blue flag is stained and heavy with the blood of Palestinian victims massacred and exiled since the Nakba or "catastrophe" of 1948.

It's smeared with the deaths of 230 Palestinians, including 65 children, that it killed during its 11-day military assault on the Gaza Strip. Every day, it gets heavier as more Palestinian women and children are attacked, shot and killed by Israeli soldiers shooting live rubber bullets, gas and sound bombs during nightly raids.

In its failing pursuit to eradicate Palestinian heritage and identity with crimes of apartheid, Israel's blood-drenched flag will drown in shame while the flag of Palestine is hoisted higher with chants of freedom and liberation in all corners of the world.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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