Karine Mac Allister

Applicability to the Palestinian Case

The term, or more appropriately the use of the category of internally displaced person (IDP) at the international level is quite recent, although the phenomenon is not. The reasons for the emergence of this new category necessitate further explanation.

The welcome recognition  of the IDP category, numbering nearly 25 million persons worldwide, is most likely imputable to the decreasing number of refugees around the world. Indeed, the “fortress policy” adopted by an increasing number of states has resulted in the containment of refugees, thus creating the need to provide assistance and protection to IDPs in order to prevent further movement, i.e. movement across borders. The goal could not be clearer: prevent liberalization in policy applying to the movement of persons.

Israel argues it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip, however, the newly found “military flexibility” and the resulting steps taken to immune occupying forces from responsibility prove the contrary. In fact, they reaffirm Israel’s effective control of the territory and the criminal liability of its occupying forces.

Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the re-deployment has increased the “military’s flexibility” of response, which now includes “the use of all available means”, because Jewish settlers are no longer in the midst of Palestinian inhabited areas.(1)

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) released its Concluding Comments to Israel in July 2005. The Committee, as in its previous Concluding Comments in 1997, reiterated its concern over the non-implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and urged Israel to “give full effect to the implementation of its obligation under the Convention in regard to all persons under its jurisdiction, including women in the Occupied Territories.”

From 5 to 22 July 2005, the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) will meet with Israeli delegates to discuss Israel's state report. Israel's report to CEDAW is incomplete; it ignores discriminatory laws against internally displaced Palestinian Arab women in Israel, fails to address Israel's human rights' responsibilities towards Palestinian women in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and disregards its international obligation to allow the return of Palestinian refugees, of which half are women.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon do not support Fatah al-Islam nor are they involved in the fighting raging in Nahrel-Bared camp since 20 May 2007. They have, however, bore the brunt of the conflict. Since fighting began in Nahrel-Bared camp, between 45 to 120 civilians have been killed and 6,265 Palestinian refugee families (over 31,000 persons) were internally displaced as of 4 July 2007. Most of the displaced refugees found shelter in the Beddawi refugee camp, which has an impoverished population of around 16,000 and now hosts an additional 25,000 persons (5,045 families) from Nahr el-Bared. By the end of June, up to a thousand persons were still stuck in the camp although no exact number was available.

Palestinian Refugees stranded in and fleeing from Iraq

It is to everyone's dishonour that these human beings are still rotting in Al Tanf, in Al Walid, in Ruweished and -worst of all – in Baghdad where one or more is being murdered virtually every day. Rupert Colville, “Shame, How the world has turned its back on the Palestinian refugees in Iraq”, Refugees, No. 146, issue 2, 2007, p. 24.

Fatima Ahmad Owdeh – Deheishe camp, West Bank, Occupied Palestinian Territory

I was around 17-18 years old when we were expelled from our village, Deir Aban. This was 18 October 1948. We had heard that the Zionists had occupied Akka, Jaffa, and many villages and that massacres occurred, such as in Deir Yassin. We heard that the Zionists had put the dead and injured people into a hole and buried them alive in Deir Yassin, the same day that we heard that Abdelqader Husseini was killed. A street was later built on top of them. We were very afraid and when we heard about the story of Deir Yassin, all the civilians in the village went to hide in the mountains.

Apartheid is an Afrikaans term for "apartness," which means to "separate," to "put apart," to "segregate." It can be summed up as the institutionalization of a regime of systematic racial discrimination or more precisely, "a political system where racism is regulated in law through acts of parliament."1

Discussions on whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid are not new; numerous articles were published in the 1980s and 1990s concluding that the situation in Israel and to some extent the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is one of apartheid.2  These discussions were, however, sidelined by the Madrid-Oslo process in the mid-1990s, which was widely expected to bring about at least partial self-determination of the Palestinian people in the OPT. Discussions on the applicability of the apartheid label to Israel have recently re-emerged, mainly as a result of the entrenchment of Israel's regime of occupation and colonization in the OPT and its continued discriminatory policies towards Palestinian refugees and citizens of Israel.3

Assessing the response to situations of internal displacement in the OPT

This article presents some of the main findings and recommendations emerging from an assessment of the response to situations of internal displacement in the OPT conducted by Badil with the cooperation of communities affected and members of the Inter-Agency Displacement Working Group and the financial support of Oxfam-Québec. The assessment stemmed from the identified need to better understand how we – UN agencies, local and international NGOs, donor governments and the Palestinian Authority – assist and protect internally displaced persons (IDPs) and people at risk of displacement in the OPT. It stemmed also from the desire to implement the Collaborative Response to Situations of Internal Displacement in the OPT in a manner that respects international law and best practices.