- Internally displaced Palestinians
Internally displaced Palestinians is a term used to refer to
Palestiniansand their descendants, who as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli warbecame internally displaced refugeeswithin what became the state of Israel.
If the definition is restricted to those displaced in the 1948 war and its immediate aftermath and their descendants, some 274,000
Arab citizens of Israel- or 1 in 4 Palestinians in Israel - are internally displaced Palestinians. [http://www.badil.org/Publications/Monographs/Palestinian.IDPs.pdf Badil Resource Centre for Palestinian Refugee and Residency Rights] ] [http://www.internal-displacement.org/idmc/website/countries.nsf/(httpEnvelopes)/F11200E8ECD83F71802570B8005A7276?OpenDocument Internal Displacement Monitoring Center] ] .
Organizations defending the rights of Palestinian
Arab citizens of Israelalso generally include the 110,000 Bedouin forced to move in a closed area under military rule in the Negevin 1949 in their estimates of internally displaced Palestinians. Other internally displaced persons included in these counts are those who were displaced by ongoing home demolitions enacted against unlicensed structures or in "unrecognized villages". Estimates based on this broader definition place the total population of IDPs at anywhere between 250,000 - 420,000 people.
In recent years, Palestinians in the
occupied Palestinian territorieswho have been displaced by the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrierhave also been referred to as internally displaced Palestinians. They are estimated to number between 24,500 and 57,000 people. [ [http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B/(httpCountries)/78C5F977D946B388802570A7004CD702?opendocument&count=10000 Internal Displacement Monitoring Center - Palestinian Territories] ]
In 1950, the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) estimated that 46,000 of the 156,000 Palestinians. [http://www.mada-research.org/programs/information_InternallyDisplacedRefugees.pdf The Internally Displaced Refugees] ] who remained inside the borders demarcated as Israel by the
1949 armistice agreementwere internally displaced refugees.
As it was for most other
Palestinian refugees, the homes and properties of internally displaced Palestinians were placed under the control of a government body, the Custodian of Absentees' Property via legislation that includes the "1948 Emergency Regulation Concerning Absentee Property" (a temporary measure) and the "1950 Absentee Property Law".http://www.mada-research.org/programs/information_InternallyDisplacedRefugees.pdf] .
Palestinian refugees, the internally displaced Palestinians and others who remained inside what became Israelwere made citizens by the Citizenship Law of July 1952. That same year Israel requested that UNRWA transfer responsibility for registering and caring for internally displaced persons to Israel and basic humanitarian assistance was provided to the internally displaced for a time. Military administrative rule (1948-1966) restricted the movement of Arab citizens of Israel, and it combined with the absentee property legislation to prevent internally displaced citizens from physically returning to their properties to reclaim their homes. Under the legislation, "absentee" property owners were required to prove their "presence" in order to gain recognition of their ownership rights by the Israeli government.
Refugee rights groups report that Palestinians inside Israel tried to return to their villages of origin, often by sending letters to Israeli ministries. Letters were generally written by village mukhtars and dignitaries, and would emphasize the good relationship between the residents of the village with their Jewish neighbors, and the desire to live in peace underIsraeli rule. The Israeli response to these letters was negative.
Villagers like those of
Ghassibiya, Bir'im and Iqritwhose petitions to the Israeli High Court to have their property rights recognized were accepted in the 1950s, were physically prevented from reclaiming their properties by military administrative authorities who refused to abide by the court rulings and declared the villages closed military zones.
Because most internally displaced Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel were counted as absent, even though present inside the Israeli state, they are also commonly referred to as "present absentees".
Today the internally displaced Bedouins live in tens of "unrecognized villages" in the
Negevand the Galilee, while the remaining internally displaced Palestinians live in some 80 towns and villages in the Galilee.
In 1991, Israeli writer and peace activist
David Grossmanconducted several interviews with Palestinian citizens of Israel. These were published in a book called in Hebrew נוכחים נפקדים /Nokhehim Nifkadim ( "Absent Presentees"). The English version was titled "Sleeping on a Wire: Conversations with Palestinians in Israel".
Catastrophe Remembered: Palestine, Israel and the Internal Refugees, edited by Nur Masalha (London: Zed Books 2005). ISBN-13: 978-1842776230
This book focuses on Palestinian internal refugees in Israel and internally displaced Palestinians across the Green Line. The book provides an overview of a topic that is largely neglected. As
Nur Masalhaputs it in his introduction: "Acquiring the paradoxical title of present absentees, the internally displaced had their property and homes taken by the state, making them refugees and exiles within their own homeland." The book uses oral history and interviews with internal refugees to examine Palestinian identity and memory, indigenous rights, international protection, the "right of return," and a just solution in Palestine/Israel.
Land and Property laws in Israel
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