31 December 2009 |

Israel: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2009

 

Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, various waves of people have been displaced within the country. Arab villagers were displaced during and after the conflict which accompanied its creation, and their descendants have remained dispersed across the country; meanwhile Bedouin communities were displaced within the southern Negev region. In addition, residents of towns near the borders with Lebanon and Gaza have in recent years experienced shorter-term displacement due to rocket attacks during periods of conflict with Hezbollah and Hamas.

The main concern of people displaced in the context of the creation of the state of Israel, both in the north and in the south, has been to assert their right to the property they lost. In 2003 the Israeli Supreme Court accepted the government’s argument that the current security situation and the persistent assertion by Palestinian refugees of their right of return could not justify allowing the claims of the internally displaced petitioners. The majority of the land from which they were displaced has been put under state ownership.

In addition, Bedouin communities in the Negev, whether displaced or not, face numerous protection concerns, including very limited access to livelihoods, education and other services. The government’s programme to demolish villages it views as illegal means that communities face a continuous risk of displacement. NGOs such as the Regional Council of Unrecognized Arab Bedouin Villages have helped to persuade relevant ministries to halt planned demolitions of villages.

There is no notable effort on the part of the state or international actors to help people recover the property they lost during displacement. Neither the UN nor the government consider that there are any IDPs in Israel.