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Home Palestine's Ongoing Nakba (Autumn 2008 Winter 2009)

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This issue of al-Majdal is meant as the last of our publications on the sixtieth anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, and the first of our publications on the Ongoing Nakba now in its 61st year. As this issue was going to print, Israel launched its major military offensive against the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, opening another chapter of Palestine's Ongoing Nakba. The Israeli assault on Gaza, in many ways, is the Ongoing Nakba in a nutshell: Palestinians, uprooted and displaced in the past, are continually squeezed into ever-smaller pieces of land, and continually subjected to displacement, brutal military violence and the ongoing violation of the most basic of their human rights.

The main feature of this third and last installment of our special Nakba-60 trilogy focuses on a central aspect of the Ongoing Nakba: the systematic, ongoing and arbitrary forced displacement of Palestinians throughout historic Palestine by Israel. The articles describe the policies and practices used by Israel to forcibly displace Palestinians from their homes inside Israel [specifically Jaffa, Akka, and the Naqab] and in the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) [specifically Jerusalem, West Bank Villages, the Jordan Valley and the Arab Jahalin] and the various ways in which Palestinians struggle to protect themselves from displacement. While each article stands on its own in describing the Ongoing Nakba as it has affected a particular community, the stories combined offer a clear – albeit by no means comprehensive - picture of the cost for the Palestinian people of Israel's racist colonial enterprise.

The issue also includes a retrospective look at UN General Assembly Resolution 194 sixty-years after it was first issued, a preliminary assessment of the international response to the ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians in the OPT, as well as a review of Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh's A Doctor in Galilee, with a reflection by the author on the process of writing the book. On the back cover of the print issue is one of the latest poem by Palestinian refugee poet Suheir Hammad titled jabaliya, named after the largest refugee camp in Palestine located in Gaza and heavily targeted in Israel's recent military assault.

In December 2008, Israel decided to mark the 60th anniversary of its existence the same way it had established itself: by destroying lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian people. For 23 days, one of the world's most powerful armies shelled and pounded from the air, land and sea the 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants of the tiny, over-populated and occupied Gaza Strip that was compared to the Warsaw Ghetto by UN Rapporteur for Human Rights, Prof. Richard Falk.[1] Israel thus caused the forced displacement of tens of thousands of Palestinians, the death of more than 1,300 and the injury of over 5,000, the great majority of them civilians. 13 Israelis, ten of them soldiers, were killed in this latest round of hostilities. As this issue of al-Majdal goes to print, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are working to dig out what remains of their families, rebuild what remains of the homes built through a lifetime of work and unearth what remains of belongings bearing memories of generations.

 An official UN fact finding mission has yet to be dispatched to Gaza and “investigate all violations of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression [...]”[2] In the meantime, Israeli spokespersons have confirmed that “massive use of force” was required in Gaza in order to prevent causalities among its armed forces. Eyewitnesses, NGOs and international agencies have confirmed that Israel has applied excessive force, including illegal use of weapons in an indiscriminate and wanton manner against the civilian population of Gaza.[3] In terms of common and plain language this means that Israel has perpetrated massacres.

 

a woman wears a bell carries a light calls searches through madness of deir yessin calls for  afah for bread orange peel under nails blue glass under feet gathers children in zeitoun sitting  ith dead mothers she unearths tunnels and buries sun onto trauma a score and a day rings a bell she is dizzy more than yesterday less than tomorrow a zig zag back dawaiyma back humming suba back shatilla back ramleh back jenin back il khalil back il quds all of it all underground in ancestral chests she rings a bell promising something 

December 11, 2008 marks 60 years since the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194 (III). While much of the resolution has been either forgotten or discarded, paragraph 11, which sets out the principles and mechanisms for a solution to the Palestinian refugee question, continues to occupy a central place in the debate over a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jaffa was the largest city in historic Palestine during the years of the British mandate, with a population of over eighty-thousand Palestinians in addition to the forty-thousand people living in the towns and villages in its immediate vicinity. In the period between the UN Partition resolution (UNGA 181) of 29 November 1947, and the declaration of the establishment of the state of Israel, Zionist military forces displaced ninety-five percent of Jaffa's indigenous Arab Palestinian population. Jaffa's refugees accounted for fifteen percent of Palestinian refugees in that fateful year, and today they are dispersed across the globe still banned from returning by the state responsible for their displacement.

Arab Palestinians still live in the old city of Akka, with their buildings, cultural, religious and historic sites largely intact as a result of these Palestinian residents' tireless efforts. With the exception of Nazareth, Akka is the only historic Palestinian city within the green line where this is the case. For various reasons, this strong Palestinian presence in Akka is an uncomfortable fact for Zionist and Israeli authorities who have expanded and escalated their Judaization efforts in the city over recent years.

Following government orders, Israeli forces, demolition workers, and two bulldozers entered the village at 9:30 a.m. on 8 May 2007, while all the men of the village were at work. They destroyed every structure in sight, forcing the women, children, and elderly in the village out of the thirty homes before destroying them all, rendering one hundred more Palestinians homeless under the scorching summer sun.1 This did not take place in the West Bank or Gaza but in the village of Twail Abu-Jirwal in the Naqab, and all one hundred Palestinians who were forcibly displaced were citizens of the state of Israel.

Today, Arab Jahalin is the largest group of Palestinian Bedouin in the West Bank, both in terms of the large area of land they inhabit and in terms of population, which numbers around 7,500. The forced displacement of Arab Jahalin began in the Naqab in 1948, and continued throughout the 1970s until the present day, and now threatens the very existence of the community.

This is the transcript of an interview conducted by al-Majdal with Mr. Khalil Tafakji of the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department of the Arab Studies Society in Jerusalem. The interview was conducted on 30 December 2008.

al-Majdal: You work at the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department, what is this organization?

KT: We were founded in 1983 as part of the Arab Studies Society by the  late Faisal Husseini.

Between the Israeli State and a Jewish-Only Settlement on the North East Corner of the Old City
Burj al-Luq Luq is one of the neighborhoods of the Hutta quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. This neighborhood sits on one of the highest point within the walled city, where the north and eastern walls meet. The neighborhood's name translates into English as, "The Tower of the Stork" as musters of storks would rest on this Old City hilltop as they migrated across the city.

  The 10,000 Palestinians living in the Hutta quarter suffer very high population density, poverty, very high drop-out rates, lack of employment opportunities, proliferation of drugs within the community, systematic harassment from Israeli settlers and soldiers, and the neighborhood is a target of Jewish-Israeli settler activity.

Segregated Palestinian Towns and Villages of the West Bank[1]

 Today, 266,422 Palestinians residing in 77 West Bank localities have been surrounded and isolated by apartheid infrastructure and settlements and are facing displacement.[2] The current crisis in the West Bank is one of the most wide-scale attempts at dispossession in recent years, with the occupation systematically targeting villages located in strategic areas along the 'green line' and near settlements. Palestinian communities are set to be expelled from areas required for settlement expansion, or are marked for inclusion outside de facto borders of the Palestinian ghettos delineated by the path of the Wall.

Assessing the response to situations of internal displacement in the OPT

This article presents some of the main findings and recommendations emerging from an assessment of the response to situations of internal displacement in the OPT conducted by Badil with the cooperation of communities affected and members of the Inter-Agency Displacement Working Group and the financial support of Oxfam-Québec. The assessment stemmed from the identified need to better understand how we – UN agencies, local and international NGOs, donor governments and the Palestinian Authority – assist and protect internally displaced persons (IDPs) and people at risk of displacement in the OPT. It stemmed also from the desire to implement the Collaborative Response to Situations of Internal Displacement in the OPT in a manner that respects international law and best practices.

One of Israel’s best-kept secrets is the existence of its hidden Palestinian Arab community that now accounts for roughly 20% of Israeli citizens. After the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, the 150,000 Palestinians who managed to stay found themselves marooned in the new state; an unwanted, alienated and marginalized minority. Without leadership, internally displaced and dispossessed of their land, they experienced 18 years of a harsh military administration. It was lifted in 1966, but they continued to face oppression, discrimination and the open hostility and suspicion of the state towards them. 

Since high school, writing has been my way of dealing with crises and with the imponderables of the ebb and flow of life. Together with gardening, it has been my psychotherapy. Whenever a major issue weighed heavily on my mind, whenever I wanted to maximize the pleasure from an experience I enjoyed, to savor the aftertaste of an achievement or to lick the wounds of a defeat, I would steal time from my busy schedule to sit in a quiet corner and write. I would read each piece I wrote after I had finished it and then I would put it away never to look at it again.

Human Rights Council Third Universal Periodic Review Session on 8 December 2008: Review of the State of Israel

 This is the revised version of the joint submission which was submitted in July 2008 by Badil Resource Center, Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Arab Human Rights Association, Association for the defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced, Housing & Land Rights Network, and Zochrot in Cooperation with Ittijah.*

The Rights of Palestinian Refugees and the Final Status Negotiations

25 September 2008

 To: President Mahmoud Abbas
Chair of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee
President of the Palestinian National Authority

Civil Society Action for Justice in Palestine

31 October 2008

 For the past 60 years, the indigenous Palestinian people has been scattered in the Diaspora and fragmented within its homeland by walls and policies of segregation and domination. However, the Palestinian national struggle cannot be divided, and the rights of the Palestinians to return to their homes of origin, enjoy freedom, and exercise self-determination can only be achieved if the root causes of their denial are addressed and if Palestinian national unity is preserved.

“There is no alternative to returning home”

 * Released by the Fourth National Conference to Defend the Right of Return, held in the occupied city of Al-Bireh, Palestine on 29 November 2008.

To our Palestinian people, freedom fighters in historic Palestine and in the exile, and to all people of conscience worldwide we extend our greetings.