While past research suggests that Palestinian refugees comprise a particularly vulnerable sector of Palestinian society in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories, reports during the first few months of the al-Aqsa Intifada provided few indicators of the specific nature of refugee vulnerability. Over the past 12 months, however, new surveys and reports issued by Palestinian and international sources provide valuable insight into the impact of the lack of international protection for Palestinian refugees during the first year of the al-Aqsa Intifada and its violent repression by the Israeli military occupation.
Major findings (September 2000 - September 2001):
Some two thirds of the approximately 700 Palestinians killed by the Israeli occupation forces are refugees, a proportion significantly higher than the proportion of refugee to non-refugee residents in the occupied territories (approximately 55%).
As of June 2001, the rate of reported damages to property and businesses was highest in West Bank and Gaza refugee camps.
95% of West Bank refugees (as compared to 84% of the overall population) report problems of mobility due to the severe restrictions of movement imposed by Israel.
76.2% of all refugee households and 79.9% of the households in the Gaza Strip (most of them refugees) are living below the poverty line, as compared to 64.9% of Palestinian households overall.
More refugee households in the Gaza Strip (84%) and West Bank refugee camps (44%) reported receiving food assistance than non-refugee households (e.g. 29% in the West Bank).
The balance sheet of the impact of human rights violations since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada clearly demonstrates the urgent need for physical protection for all Palestinians, and a special protection regime for Palestinian refugees. Due to their status as a displaced people, Palestinian refugees have experienced higher numbers of deaths and injuries, incidents of damage particularly in refugee camps, unemployment, and poverty relative to the entire Palestinian population in the 1967 occupied territories. The special vulnerability of Palestinian refugees is as much the result of 53 years of massive rights violations by Israel as it is the result of the prolonged absence of effective international protection. The complete version of BADIL Bulletin No. 8 (6 pages) is published on the BADIL website. Electronic copies are available upon order. The Bulletin includes additional analysis and sources, as well as a set of urgent recommendations for international intervention.