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Home Monitoreo Continúo de los Desplazamientos
Ongoing Forced Displacement of Palestinians
Ongoing Forced Displacement of Palestinians

Ongoing Forced Displacement of Palestinians

At the beginning of the 20 th century, most Palestinians lived inside the borders of Palestine, which is now divided into the state of Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Until 1947, Palestinians owned and used approximately 90 percent of Palestine's land. Five major episodes of forcible displacement have transformed Palestinians into the largest and longest-standing unresolved refugee case in the world today. Approximately 82 percent of the land has been confiscated by Israel.

As many as 150,000 Palestinians were arbitrarily displaced within or expelled from Palestine during the British Mandate (1922 – 1947). More than 750,000 Palestinians were displaced during the “Nakba”, the Arabic word for "Catastrophe", referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that took place in the context of a UN plan to partition Palestine, armed conflict and the establishment of the state of Israel. Several tens of thousands of Palestinians were displaced within and expelled from Israel between 1949 and 1967. Approximately 400,000 to 450,000 Palestinians were displaced from the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Israeli-Arab war and Israel's occupation of these areas.

Palestinian displacement and dispossession are caused by a policy of forced population transfer which has been employed by the Zionist movement and the state of Israel with the aim to colonize Palestinian land and establish a Jewish demographic majority in it.

Since 1967, Israel has developed a regime that combines occupation, apartheid and colonization which acts as the root cause of contemporary forced displacement. Hundreds of thousands of additional Palestinians have been displaced on both sides of the Green Line, and forcible displacement is ongoing as a result of policies and practices of Israel's unlawful regime. Increased awareness of forced displacement of Palestinians amongst local and international organizations has led to the identification of a number its core 'triggers' including excessive and indiscriminate use of force, home demolition and forced eviction, violence by Jewish settlers and other non-state actors, revocation of residency rights, closure and segregation, confiscation and discriminatory distribution of land, and settler implantation.

Secondary displacement of Palestinian refugees has continued in various countries of exile, most recently in Iraq and Lebanon. Denied reparation and durable solutions based on their right to return, displaced Palestinians remain vulnerable to the impact of armed conflicts and human rights violations in their host countries.

Displacement in Mandate Palestine: Causes & Triggers

Displacement in Mandate Palestine: Causes & Triggers

Israel’s regime combining occupation, apartheid and colonization is the root cause of contemporary and ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. Contemporary forced displacement is induced by a set of inter-related, discriminatory and oppressive Israeli policies and practices which are implemented in the context of military operations and routine administration.

Some of these policies and practices have caused large numbers of forcibly displaced Palestinians in a very direct and immediate manner, among them: excessive and indiscriminate use of force by military or police forces; deportation; detention and torture; home demolition and forced eviction; and, attacks and harassment by violent non-state actors. Other policies and practices appear to trigger forced displacement in a more indirect and long-term manner, among them: revocation of residency rights; closure and segregation; confiscation and discriminatory distribution of land; and settler implantation and “judaization” of Palestinian localities. The latter create a situation of vulnerability among the affected Palestinian population and are directly related to the root cause of the conflict.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been forcibly displaced internally and externally in numerous incidents throughout the past four decades. Many of those affected are refugees displaced for a second or third time. By 2009, Palestinian communities in the OPT facing the risk of forced displacement include communities in the path of the Wall (498,000 Palestinians in 92 communities), Palestinian Bedouin, Palestinians residing in the Jordan Valley, eastern Jerusalem, Hebron, Southern Gaza and the Gaza Strip buffer zone, (which extends from 500 meters to one kilometer in from the Gaza Strip's border). Among Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Bedouin in the Naqab and Palestinian communities in the Galilee and the so-called 'mixed cities' are particularly vulnerable to forced displacement.

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History of Forced Displacement of Palestinians

History of Forced Displacement of Palestinians

At the beginning of the 20th century, most Palestinians lived inside the borders of Palestine, now divided into the state of Israel, and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip (hereafter OPT). Until 1947, they owned or used approximately 90 percent of the land in Palestine.

Five major periods or episodes of forcible displacement from former Palestine have transformed Palestinians into the largest and longest-standing unresolved refugee case in the world today. Approximately half of the Palestinian people have been displaced outside their former homeland and 82 percent of the land has been expropriated.

The major periods or episodes of forcible displacement include:
the British Mandate (1922-1947) when more than 100,000 Palestinians were displaced within and beyond the borders of Palestine in the context of British support of Zionist colonization;
the Nakba (1947-1949) when over 750,000 Palestinians were displaced in the context of a UN General Assembly recommendation to partition Palestine, armed conflict, ethnic cleansing and the establishment of the state of Israel;
Israel’s military government (1949-1966) when 35,000 to 45,000 Palestinians who had managed to remain in the area that became the state of Israel in 1948 were displaced, including many returning refugees;
the 1967 Arab-Israeli war when 400,000 to 450,000 Palestinians were displaced in the context of armed conflict and Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Egyptian Sinai peninsula and the Syrian Golan Heights;
Israel’s occupation, apartheid and colonization (1967 – 2009) when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been displaced, and forced displacement is ongoing on both sides of the Green Line.

Palestinian displacement and dispossession are the result of forced population transfer ("ethnic cleansing"), defined by the UN as the “systematic, coercive and deliberate… movement of population into or out of an area … with the effect or purpose of altering the demographic composition of a territory, particularly when that ideology or policy asserts the dominance of a certain group over another.”i The Zionist movement and state of Israel have prevented self-determinationii of the Palestinian people, forcibly displaced them and barred the return of the displaced to their homes and properties for the purpose of colonization of Palestinian land and establishing a Jewish demographic majority in it.

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Secondary Displacement of Refugees in Host Countries

Secondary Displacement of Refugees in Host Countries

Many Palestinians who sought refuge outside their homeland experienced further forced displacement. With their right to a nationality, identity and travel document denied by Israel, they became stateless refugeesi who have been particularly vulnerable to the impacts of armed conflicts and human rights violations in their respective host countries.

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Case Studies of Displacement

Case Studies of Displacement

In this section we examine certain specific cases of forced displacement in detail, examining the history of forced displacement of particular Palestinian communities.

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