Today, 15 May 2012, marks the 64th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the anniversary of the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland. This was the harshest and most brutal ethnic cleansing in the world, and included systematic and deliberate killings and displacement. This culminated in a declaration of the State of Israel on the debris of Palestinian people, cities and villages.In 1948, Israel occupied large areas of Palestine, and the Israeli invasions into Palestinian communities resulted in the expulsion of approximately 700,000 Palestinians who lost their property, and the destruction of 418 Palestinian villages.
Since Israel took control over Palestinian lands, the vast majority of Palestinians displaced beyond the 1949 Armistice Demarcation Line have not been allowed to return to their homes or to restore their property.
These Palestinian refugees, whose right to return to their homes is ensured under international law, still live in refugee camps in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) or in other countries, and their future is still unknown.
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), by the end of 2011 the number of Palestinians in the world was estimated at 11.2 million, including: 4.2 million in the oPt; 1.37 million in territories occupied in 1948; 4.99 million (44.4% of the total number of Palestinians) in Arab countries; and 636,000 (5.7% of the total number of Palestinians) in foreign countries.
This means that 50.1% of the Palestinian people live as refugees outside of Palestine. The PCBS also reports that: “While there are 5.75 million Palestinians living in the Historic Palestine with an area of 27,000 kilometers squared, Jews represent 52% of residents and use more than 85% of the total area of lands in Palestine.
Palestinians represent 48% of resident and use less than 15% of the total area. This leads to the conclusion that a Palestinian individual uses one quarter of the area used by an Israeli individual.”
This year, the anniversary of the Nakba coincides with Palestinians’ ongoing suffering. The human rights situation in the oPt continues to deteriorate due to ongoing Israeli violations of human rights, and Israeli war crimes committed against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Since its creation and through its occupation of the rest of Palestinian territories from 1967 to date, Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at seizing more Palestinian lands and property. Israel has escalated settlement activities in the West Bank and is creating new facts on the ground through the establishment of dozens of settlements, emptying the land of the indigenous population, confiscating more property, constructing the annexation wall on Palestinian land in the West Bank, etc. Furthermore, Israel continues towards creating a Jewish majority in the oPt.
Israel also continues to use policies of killings, arbitrary arrests, house raids, destruction of civilian property and objects, restrictions on the right to freedom of movement through more than 500 military checkpoints erected at the entrances of Palestinian cities and villages, and other violations. In the Gaza Strip, despite the 2005 unilateral disengagement plan, the facts show that Israel still controls the Gaza Strip and continues also to control the Gaza border crossings. Israel also continues to target Palestinians in Gaza by committing various violations against the civilian population.
There are approximately 5,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. These prisoners continue to endure suffering because of cruel detention conditions and unjust policies adopted by the Israeli prison authorities, in violation of international law. These policies include solitary confinement, denial of family visitation, administrative detention, and other illegal and degrading measures.
On the other hand, Palestinians continue to suffer due to the ongoing Palestinian political split. The past 5 years have witnessed widespread violations of human rights and serious attacks on different freedoms, mostly due to the ongoing split in the Palestinian political structure and in the legislative, executive and judicial authorities.
The current internal split impacts the Palestinian cause. As we have experienced many threats to our existence and rights, mainly the right to independence, the right to self-determination and the establishment of the Palestinian State, it is better for us as Palestinians to be united in order to continue the legitimate struggle to restore our stolen rights.
PCHR reiterates that Palestinians, individually and collectively, have the right to return to their lands from which they were displaced in 1948, and notes that there are dozens of resolutions issued by several international bodies that ensure this right, and call for compensation for these refugees.
The right to return is an inalienable right that remains applicable at all times. PCHR also stresses that Israel must be held accountable for the violations and international crimes it commits against Palestinians and their property.
PCHR calls upon:
1. The international community and the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their legal and moral obligations, apply the rules of international law, and put a just end to the suffering of the Palestinian people.
2. Hamas and Fatah movements to put an end to the ongoing internal split, achieve reconciliation, and give priority to public interests over factional considerations, in order to achieve the national goals, mainly the termination of the occupation.
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For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza , Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 – 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail: email@example.com, Webpage http://www.pchrgaza.org