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Historians have cataloged the brutal ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages and towns during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. What is now becoming more publicly understood is that ethnic cleansing which began with the establishment of the state of Israel continues today. Forced displacement is taking place everywhere that Israel has jurisdiction, not only in the occupied Palestinian territory, but within Israel.
There is an active campaign to Judiase East Jerusalem. The Jerusalem authority has publicly stated – unthinkable in a non-racist state – that they want to ensure that the Palestinian population of the city remains at or below 30%. Various means are being employed to ensure that the Palestinian population does not grow and many Palestinians have been forced to leave the city.
The Jerusalem Authority plans to remove over 1,000 residents of Silwan Bustan to make way for a King David Park to cement the single narrative of Jewish claims over the city at the expense of not only the residents, but the other histories of the area.
Families in Sheikh Jarrah have been targeted for removal by Israeli settler organisations, who use a variety of means (as documented by Haldane Society of Lawyers) to remove them from their family homes.
Palestinian Bedouin in Israel
In 2001 the Israeli government agreed the Prawer Plan for mass expulsion of the Palestinian Bedouin community in the Naqab (Negev). Although their official ‘Prawer Plan’ has been shelved, the demolitions continue. It is feared that Israel’s policies could result in the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouin citizens of Israel, and the destruction of 35 ‘unrecognised villages’.
See the brutal demolitions of the village of Al Araqib on 12 June 2014 despite international protests. This is a village that Israel refuses to recognise to give a pretext to their discrimination and human rights outrages against the people living there.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Dukium published a short report, illustrating Israel’s discrimination against its Bedouin population. Read more>
To find out more about the villages use this interactive map>
View the list of ongoing demolitions of Palestinian Bedouin homes>
Adalah says: ‘For over 60 years, the indigenous Arab Bedouin have faced a state policy of displacement, home demolitions and dispossession of their ancestral land. Today, 70,000 Arab Bedouin citizens live in 35 villages that either predate the establishment of the State in 1948, or were created by Israeli military order in the early 1950s. The State of Israel considers the villages “unrecognized” and the inhabitants “trespassers on State land,” so it denies the citizens access to state infrastructure like water, electricity, sewage, education, health care and roads. The state deliberately withholds basic services from these villages to “encourage” the Arab Bedouin citizens to give up their ancestral land. If Israel applied the same criteria for planning and development that exist in the Jewish rural sector, all 35 unrecognized villages would be recognized where they are.’
The Arab Bedouin minority of the Negev is one of the most discriminated groups within the Arab population and within Israeli society as a whole. More than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev [al-Naqab] Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages, which the state refuses to provide with a planning structure and place under municipal jurisdiction. The government uses a variety of measures to pressure Bedouins into relocating to government-planned urban centres that disregard their lifestyle and needs. Whole communities have been issued demolition orders; others are forced to continue living in unrecognized villages that are denied basic services and infrastructure, such as electricity and running water.
Other Palestinians living in Israel
Palestinians, the indigenous population, are often referred to – by Israeli politicians – as a ‘demographic threat’ (see for example, this Haaretz report on Netanyahu’s earlier statement)
Palestinians are regularly threatened with eviction in towns like Jaffa (see detailed article about history of Nakba to the present day in Jaffa) because of their ethnicity.
The ethnic cleansing is taking place in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory – different legal systems – same result.
The West Bank
The vast majority of the West Bank is under full Israeli control and is called ‘area C’. Areas A and B have services provided by the Palestinian Authority, but remain under occupation by the state of Israel.
As the UN OCHA said, in their special report of 2011 looking at Palestinian displacement:
“Clear patterns of displacement are occurring in the Area C communities visited, with residents being forced to move in order to meet their basic needs….. The single most The single most common reason causing people to move stems from the restrictive planning regime applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C, which makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain permission to build; in many cases, it is due to a combination of other factors, such as settler violence, movement restrictions, including the Barrier, reduced income, demolitions, or difficult access to services/resources (e.g. education, water, etc). Displaced families are moving to Areas A and B as well as to other parts of Area C. Thousands of others are at-risk of displacement due to the same factors.”
Israel operates a policy of deportation to Gaza and prevents travel between Gaza and other parts of Palestinian territory. Gaza is one of the most over populated areas in the world, and many families are refugees from areas now in Israel and parts of the occupied Palestinian territory.
Palestinian prisoner, Samer Issawi refused Israel’s attempt to deport him to Gaza, as this is another means of ethnically cleansing East Jerusalem from Palestinians.
Israel’s continuing blockade on Gaza makes life unbearable for Palestinians in the Gaza strip, and increases their reliance on goods and services from Egypt, and hinders economic, political and other relationships their compatriots in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Palestinian diaspora & refugee camps
When Palestinians were forcibly displaced in 1948 they were prevented from returning by the newly formed state of Israel. Israel continues to prevent people of indigenous Palestinian heritage from settling in their homeland to this day – which is in direct contravention of international law. This is despite the fact that they have instituted a Law of Return which allows all Jewish people to immigrate to Israel.
Palestinian refugees and internally displaced Palestinians (IDPs) represent the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today. Around 750,000 Palestinians – three quarters of the Palestinian population – fled or were forced into exile by Israeli troops in 1948 (see photos from Badil).
All refugees have an internationally recognized right to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced, to receive compensation for damages, and to either regain their properties or receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right derives from a number of legal sources, including customary international law, international humanitarian law (governing rights of civilians during war), and human rights law.
In the specific case of the Palestinians, this right was affirmed by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948, and has been reaffirmed repeatedly by that same body.