This report, presented in-person to the Commission of Inquiry in January 2015, draws attention to the widespread, mass forced displacement of Palestinians by Israel, and the crime of forcible transfer. This devastating crime is inextricably linked to a multitude of fundamental human rights. Yet, despite its status as one of the most heinous acts within a situation of international armed conflict, it is a crime which, in the case of Israel and Palestine, has received scant attention from the international community.
The forcible transfer of Palestinians inside the occupied Palestinian territory is explored through two separate case studies: Operation ‘Protective Edge’ in the Gaza Strip; and the planned forced relocation of Palestinian Bedouin communities in the central West Bank. These two examples are not isolated processes, but rather the latest manifestations of a systematic policy of forced displacement of Palestinians by Israel; a policy which has led directly to the world’s longest unsolved refugee crisis, and the continued displacement of 7.4 million Palestinians, representing 66 per cent of the global Palestinian population.
The creation of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Gaza 2014 constitutes an important and welcome development for all who are serious about the delivery of justice to Palestinian residents of the occupied Palestinian territory, and to those who seek accountability for perpetrators of international crimes. These two central tenets of international legal systems have been conspicuously absent in the face of an historical pattern of Israeli-perpetrated rights abuses dating back to the violence of the Nakba.
The foundations of this report are provided by field research conducted by BADIL in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. BADIL takes this opportunity both to express its sincere gratitude for the courage shown by all who shared their experiences, and to reiterate its unconditional commitment to protect the human rights of Palestinians wherever they may be. This protection can only be achieved through real, effective change on the ground, and it is the pursuit of this change that characterizes BADIL’s mission. Until such a time as the forced displacement of Palestinians ceases, and a just and durable solution to the ‘Palestinian refugee problem’ is implemented, this work will continue.