JAI: 75 years of Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe)

JAI: 75 years of Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe)

A statement issued by the Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI) of the YWCA of Palestine and the East Jerusalem YMCA

In 1948 most of the Palestinian people were forcibly displaced from their homes, lands, and property during the creation of Israel; known as the Nakba, meaning ‘catastrophe. During the Nakba, 531 Palestinian villages were erased by the Zionist militias and more than 70 massacres were committed, in which more than 15,000 Palestinians died between 1947 and 1949. Some 800,000 of the Palestinian people became refugees and a quarter of those who remained on their land were internally displaced as a result of denying them the right to return to their villages, towns, and cities of origin ever since.

Many Palestinians were forced to flee to neighbouring countries, where they remain as refugees today, often living in overcrowded and impoverished conditions with limited access to basic resources and services. The ongoing occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territory and the construction of settlements have further exacerbated the crisis, leading to further displacements and violations of international law.

Over the past 30 years Israel built more settlements on land confiscated from Palestinians. The newly elected Israeli right-wing fascist government is targeting the full annexation of the West Bank. This has led and will lead to more Palestinians being forcibly displaced from their land and becoming internally displaced people. The Nakba’s colonial legacy endures. 75 years onwards, the Nakba is far from a distant memory for the Palestinian people: it is a continuing reality of Israeli settler-colonialism, population transfer, apartheid, and dispossession, all practices that have never ceased, but rather have increased today.

The right of Palestinians to return to their homes and land is an inalienable right protected under international law. Palestinian refugees have the legal right to return to their homes and to reparations as well. Israel has never abided by nor respected this as it has done with hundreds of UN resolutions addressing the Palestinian Question.  This is due to the absence of accountability towards Israel and the absence of the world community’s will to enforce international humanitarian law on the question of Palestine.

The international community is obligated to implement international law and enforce it whenever needed to make sure that peace, security, and human rights are protected as clearly articulated in the UN Charter. Only with a true commitment to international law, can Palestinian people exercise their fundamental rights to live in their own homes and communities in peace, security, and dignity.

We urge our partners and friends to commemorate the Nakba and make sure that their governments and policy- makers address a clear request to uphold international law and call for the implementation of the Palestinian right of return as a corner stone for justice.