By Hiyam Noir and Fadwa Nassar
The Zionist State of Israel considers Palestinian who are living as refugees within in the occupied 48- border and the West Bank physically present yet at the same time absent and deprived of their rights to return to their land and regain their property, confiscated by the colonial state. These absentees are internally displaced, a group of Palestinians whom are at the same time refugees, and reseeding in their country, upon where the Zionist Israel colony was built.
A new book entitled "Internally Displaced Palestinians" The Present Absentee’, is documenting the story of the “displaced “Palestinian people, and is published by the "The Center of Palestinian Return" based in London. This agency is promoting the Palestinian right of return, the author is the Tunisian researcher; Arafet Boujemaa.
Very few studies are devoted to the issue of the "displaced” Palestinians. The first part of the book in reference to the history of Palestinian refugees, whose main demand is implementation of their right to return to their country which is the IDPs ( displaced Palestinians)origin. These Palestinians are the refugees which land and property were stolen by the Zionist: (Israel does not have a written constitution), in the aftermath of the war of 1948. Hence, being forced to live as refugees in their own land, with their property and possessions distributed to the Zionist colonial government and its military or destroyed or distributed among the settlers.
As refugees, these IDPs are forbidden to recapture their property or return to their own land, as it is mandatory required by resolution 194 of the UN Security Council. The second resolution issued, is that of the 48 Palestinians, who physically lived within their own colonized homeland, and with stoic courage stood up against the Zionists religious and ethnic cleansing, which was carried out in the 1948’s by terrorist Zionist gangs.
In a virtue of patience and courage these Internal displaced Palestinians, resisted separation from their property and their homeland and continued to struggle throughout their lives inside the Israel, as a "Arab minority”. This category represents approximately 25% of the 48 Palestinians. Being the refugees or internally displaced, they continued to live their lives deprived of their rights to access their farmland and villages, which were either colonized or placed under military control.
Interesting is the point in which the displaced Palestinians (i.e.) IDPs, argue for guarantee of international protection within the category which in a twofold manner is oppressed by the Israel. Until 1952, the IDPs depended on UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for assisting Palestinian refugees, to act as provider of basic survival needs, including medical care and the educational, also the enabling of employment possibilities. Yet the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East withdrew its obligations for the internally displaced Palestinians, because they had not taken into consideration the possible legal consequences regarding "international borders”. The UNRWA was now forced to provide the newly established colonial entity “Israel", with basic services – education, health, relief and social services. The colonial Zionist entity prohibited employment for the internal Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories, since being refugees, UNRWA left them and the Zionist regime didn't recognize them as refugees. Hence, as a whole at this very instant, their presence in itself was a direct indication of that crimes have been committed, and still existing in the lands of 48,which is an unstable legal foundation since it was created by removal of the indigenous population.
The IDPs are absent in the Israeli statistic, however in theory, IDPs are holding a minority position within "the Arab minority”. Since in practice IDPs position in the everyday life of the colonial institution, it is obliged to ensure that no one of them, on his own land, previously worked as a farm laborer and or participated in campaigns of destruction of the buildings erected around their villages, or else erased a Zionist colony that had taken hold of their land. The righteous struggle waged by the displaced residents of Ikrit and Kfar Bir'im and other villages, to return back to their lands, lasted more than three decades, before it was finally obstructed by the Zionist authorities. A refusal to allow the villagers and their descendants to return to their land and their villages, simply fearing that a possible favorable outcome would give the IDPs incentives to follow in the same path of legal battles in the future.
The matter of concern is that the IDPs are a powerful source for most of the unrecognized villages, in particular, the area of al-Jalil. These internal Palestinians are prevented from returning to their villages to live in their own homes and cultivate their own land. The rules dominating the lives of the IDPs were established by the occupier in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Haifa and Nasra among others or against home and landowners which belong to refugees expelled from their homelands remote villages, or village of origin. However, many IDPs have refused to live in these facilities since they are considered to be provisional during the time, between year 1950 and 1966, when military power was institutionalized against the Palestinians of 48. That is why these Palestinians return back to build their homes on the outskirts of colonized or destroyed villages. For example Ayn Hod, the unrecognized Palestinian village which lands and homes of origin were transformed into a colony for Zionists artists.
The Palestinians of the 48 are considered to be at the bottom of the social ladder in the Israel, as to standard of living, the quality of education and medical care. The underlying causes /facts are that private funding from Arab municipalities barely can afford to provide services to every IDPs that are in need of support, while money is widely available in the Jewish settlements. Even more so, difficult to comprehend is that the knowledge of living conditions of the IDPs have become more difficult to endure, since their possessions and lands are confiscated by the Israelis, compared with the villagers and landowners who at least until the late 60's, kept their land and property, the IDPs potential for future survival is beyond reach.
Denied as equal by the Zionist state, however, the IDPs, are leading a battle on several frontiers in order to be recognized, and to be able to return to their homes and villages. This is in short the meaning of the constitution of the “Association for the Defense of the rights, of IDPs”, in "Israel" (ADRID), a Palestinian representative of the IDPs who managed, to gather the local committees of IDPs, was demanding the return to villages and farmland. In an interview, Mr. Wakim Wakim, chairperson of the "Association for the Defense of the rights of IDPs" said during the meeting of the committee that: "Our position to assert our right of return to our villages is not only based on international law, and the right that exists by virtue of natural law to own land and property, but it's also equivalent with the laws of "Israel", which guarantee the right of everyone to live where he wants. Suppose that we would want to live in al-Bassa, which is the village of our family and where we have land. Why not? Why can we not open an office, a business or build a house in al-Bassa? [North of al-Jalil] a village which lands was confiscated to be part of a settlement built on the site, but where the Church and the Mosque still stands to testify the Palestinian historic presence.
The legal battle is not good for anyone, since the army can challenge any decision of the Zionist Supreme Court, (when it at times takes a stand for the Palestinians).The battle of today is more popular and media-oriented, aimed at raising international awareness, support and public opinion, to enforce the right of return of the IDPs and accurate compensation for property destroyed. But, as noted by a recent study on the situation for the IDPs, these internal Palestinians are not covered by any international protection. The IDPs cannot rely on legal assistance from any international body to enforce their rights or claim protection. In several countries, the subject of internally displaced people has been discussed, since racial and colonial wars have resulted in forced displacement of millions of people around the world.
In order to claim refugee status, established by the United Nations without "crossing international borders”, was the “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement". However, these principles are not serving as protection and these "guidelines" does not apply to the internally displaced Palestinians, since the Zionist entity refuses to distinguish IDPs from other Palestinians of 48. It is only through their own struggle and supports from international solidarity, the IDPs have received access to this status, thus they can not return to their home villages to recover their land and property.
The Zionists consider them absentees, yet the IDPs (internally displaced Palestinian refugees) at the same timed every year must prove they are present. They have become the problem, a source of some retrogression on the every year remembering (occasion), of the Nakba, when popular marches are heading to the grounds of "disappeared" villages and the displaced Palestinians are carrying placards with names of their home villages, denouncing Zionist policy of ethnic cleansing. These marches have become the highlight of Palestinian struggle for the land of 48, thus the IDPs, are not participating in a larger number since in their perseverance they are well aware of that they are contributing promotions to the rights of Palestinians living in the occupied country since 1948, they are also promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees abroad, which ancestors were expelled in the NAKBA, to return back home.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|