Palestinians in Gaza mark 104 years since Balfour Declaration

Protesters demand UK recognise an independent Palestinian state and provide compensation for suffering resulting from the historic statement.

A Palestinian child holds picture of Arthar Balfour in a demonstration north of Gaza [File: Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

Gaza City – Dozens of Palestinians have taken part in a protest at the Jablia refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip to demand the United Kingdom recognise an independent Palestinian state.

The protest came on the 104th anniversary of the the Balfour Declaration, a public pledge made by the UK, expressing its support for “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The statement came in the form of a letter from the UK’s then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour.

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Palestinian factions organised Tuesday’s rally, where protesters held banners and chanted slogans urging the UK to stand by its responsibility and recognise an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and to acknowledge the suffering caused by the statement.

A demonstration in northern Gaza marks the 104th anniversary of Balfour Declaration [File: Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanou told Al Jazeera that the UK is fully responsible for an “historical, political and moral crime” towards the Palestinian people.

“Since that pledge, our people have been in a continuous suffering and an open battle with the Israeli occupation in order to obtain their rights in their land that was gifted to Israel to establish its lands,” he said.

Al-Qanou said the UK should compensate Palestinians for the injustice they have suffered as a result of the declaration.

“No matter how long it takes, we won’t give up our rights to resist and struggle until it is liberated from occupation,” he added.

For his part, Aref Naim, a member of the Fida Party, said the “ominous pledge” caused mass displacement, killing and land confiscation and had not been forgotten by Palestinians.

“The international community is silent about the crime of stealing Palestinian land and displacing thousands of Palestinians until this day. The Palestinian people paid a heavy price and still do.”

Naim called on the international community to increase the pressure on Israel to end its decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories, and to implement all United Nations resolutions, including the right of return and the right to self-determination for Palestinians.

Participants hold banners read ‘Balfour Declaration: Promise from those who do not own to those who do not deserve’ [File: Mohammed Salem/Al Jazeera]

The Balfour Declaration is widely seen as having launched the process that would lead to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

In the war surrounding the creation of the Israeli state, more than 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes in what Palestinians call the Nakba, or “catastrophe”.

Earlier this week, President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree ordering the national flag to be flown at half-staff on November 2 of each year marking the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, according to the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The decree expressed the importance of “reminding the world in general and the United Kingdom in particular of the suffering of the Palestinian people and their rights to achieve independence, statehood and self-determination”.

Source: Al Jazeera