Download: basic facts sheet
Introduction: the situation today
Since its foundation in 1948 the state of Israel has established a body of laws, policies, and practices that have systematically oppressed Palestinians. Because Israel’s activities have also fragmented the Palestinian population, this oppression operates in different ways.
• There are over 7 million Palestinians living in exile, many in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The majority are those who were forced out during the creation of Israel in 1948, known to Palestinians as the Nakba or ‘catastrophe’ (see below), and their descendants. Under international law these refugees have a right to return to the lands from which theywere expelled. However, Israel has continuously denied them of this right.
• Some Palestinians remained in what is now Israel. Today, 1.7 million live as second class citizens, comprising more than 20% of Israel’s population. They are subject to over 65 laws that discriminate against them because they are Palestinian.
• A third group of Palestinians (many also refugees) today live either under brutal military occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and
• In the West Bank, 2.1 million Palestinians are governed under a discriminatory, unjust system of military law, face home demolitions, and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.
• In East Jerusalem 327,000 million Palestinians live as permanent residents, inferior to Jewish Israeli citizens.
• In Gaza, 1.9 million Palestinians live under a brutal siege, and have been subject to 3 aerial bombardments in the last ten years. Due to the conditions imposed by the siege, the UN estimate the area will be completely uninhabitable by 2020.
While Palestinians endure discriminatory treatment and the systematic denial of their human rights, Jewish Israelis enjoy full rights under the law within a system of institutionalised ethnic privilege. This leaflet provides basic information about the history and current situation in Palestine, and what you can do about it.
Read more in our basic facts sheet