[RAMALLAH, 14 May 2009] - The anniversary of the Nakba comes to remind the world of the ongoing violations Israel has been committing against the Palestinian people, generation after generation, for more than sixty years, including the killing of thousands of Palestinians, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of others.
Unlawful killings and forcible transfer of population continue amidst Israeli refusal to accept historical and legal responsibility for the Nakba, and recognise the principle of the right to return that was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution No. 194 in 1948. Such refusal prevents Palestinian refugees from exercising their right to return to their abandoned homes, and there have been many attempts to substitute this right with either compensation or resettlement.
In the past few years, Israel has strongly emphasised the Jewish identity of the State of Israel which has become the focus of the negotiations to resolve the Palestinian cause, particularly in discussions on the Palestinian refugees’ right to return. Israel’s insistence to be recognized as a Jewish state as a precondition for any settlement or peace agreement with the Palestinians, and racist calls to transfer Palestinians from their homeland, preclude the realization of Palestinian refugees’ right to return. In addition, the idea of a Jewish-only state necessarily entails the implementation of discrimination policies against the ethnic Arab minority living in Israel.
Palestinian people are supposed to commemorate the Nakba; instead, 61 years on, they are still victims of Israel’s military occupation policies and ongoing land grabs. The Nakba has become part of the Palestinians’ daily life. Israel is maintaining a blockade on the Palestinian people, particularly on the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege for almost two years; it is expanding settlements in the West Bank, including Jerusalem; continuing the construction of the Wall and pursuing activities aiming at Judaizing Jerusalem through house demolitions, land confiscation and evictions.
Furthermore, in December-January last, the former Israeli government carried out a massive military offensive against the Gaza Strip during which the Israeli army committed grave violations against the civilian population, some of them amounting to war crimes. Yesterday, DCI-Palestine revised its number of child fatalities during Operation Cast Lead up to 340; the UN is reporting approximately 1,400 casualties in total. Many of the Palestinians killed and displaced during the recent Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip were refugees who were forcibly displaced from their homes during Nakba in 1948.
Nearly four months after the cease-fire announced by Israel thousands of people are still homeless and denied basic services. The reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and accommodation of thousands of displaced people is impossible in light of the continued siege and restrictions imposed on the entry of reconstruction materials. DCI-Palestine deplores the inaction of the international community over what happened and what is now happening in the Gaza Strip. Pressure should be put on Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and cooperate with international efforts to carry out investigations into alleged war crimes and other serious human rights and child rights violations.
On the 61st anniversary of the Nakba, and in this context, DCI-Palestine recalls that the right to return is a natural and legal right that is not outdated and is enshrined in international conventions and UN Resolutions, particularly UN General Assembly Resolution 194.
DCI-Palestine urges the international community to end the ongoing Catastrophe of the Palestinian people by calling for an end to human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory, for accountability for war crimes, and for an immediate lifting of the blockade.
Read DCI-Palestine's report, 60 Years after the Nakba: Three Generations of Palestinians Reflect on their Past and Future, issued in 2008 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Nakba