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Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Nadene Goldfoot
Israel was reborn on May 14, 1948.  Arabs attacked the minute the announcement came through.  By 1949 the UN had 700,000 Palestinian refugees that that fled their homes when the leaders told them to leave because they were attacking the new state of Israel. When it was over and  they, the Palestinian fighters had taken over, the people could come back and have the homes of the Jews if they wanted. To be a refugee you had to have lived in Palestine from June 1946 to May 1948.  That means that you could have just arrived looking for work from any of the neighboring countries which is the case for most.   It also means that your lost your job as a result of the War of Independence.

"Most Arab Palestine refugees have retained their refugee status and continue to reside in refugee camps, including within what they consider will be  the State of Palestine in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Their descendants form a sizable portion of the Palestinian diaspora."

The UN wound up creating UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency) to provide social services and relief.  There have been at least 3 generations that have gone by since the original 700,000.  The Arabs of Judea-Samaria (West Bank), some from Gaza and surrounding states fall under the category that is different from other displaced refugees.  These UNRWA refugees are the only refugees who automatically have inherited this status in perpetuity.  The question of "What is a Palestinian refugee"  had never been established.   There was a mandate for this and the Arabs were to be integrated into normal life of the Near East.  At the time, it was at the end of WWII and there were 100 million refugees worldwide.  Palestinians made up only less than 1%.

Other refugees got placed in new lands and the 100 million are under 30 million today.  However, life must have been good in the refugee camps, for their 700,000 mushroomed to over 5 million today.  Being the original refugees came into being 65 years ago, less than 50,000 or 1% are from the original group and would be considered refugees under UNHCR rules that govern other refugee populations.   The rest are just hangers on who have had no reason to leave the camps.   5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services today.

40% of the 50,000 originals are actual citizens of Jordan.  Most others are 'firmly resettled" in a permanent residence and have a livelihood in other countries.

By giving Palestinians this special status gives off the message that Israel's existence as a Jewish state is only temporary and that if they continue to be patient, they or their children or children's children will take it over. Thus, no one should sign any peace document.  UNRWA camps decorate with keys, keys that supposedly open the door to the homes they left in 1948.

More than 1.4 million, live in 58 recognized refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  In 1967 all the surrounding Arab countries attacked Israel and Israel won anyway.  As a result, "10 camps were established in the aftermath of the June 1967 war and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to accommodate a new wave of displaced persons, both refugees and non-refugees."

The refugees in Syria number 500,000.  Now they are trapped with Assad's battle with his people.  UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi today said that they need more money.  "Twelve Palestine refugees were killed by heavy weaponry on 7 February in the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk; five of them were members of the same family."  Because of all the fighting, the refugees can't move around safely.  The agency is now the sole means of support for the refugees.   
When Israel departed from Gaza, a place Jews had always lived in until 1929 when Arab rioters drove them out, they had gone in again in 1948 when Israel was a state.  On August 17, 2005 Israel pulled the 1,700 Jewish families out of Gaza for the sake of making peace. They totaled about 9,000. They didn't want to leave.  They left businesses which employed Palestinians.   It cost Israel  $900 million to do so.  Jews had to leave and were relocated in other localities in Israel.  They did not become refugees, though it was a hardship to relocate.  Israel took it on as their responsibility.  Immediately the Palestinians started shelling southern Israel from rockets, mortars and missiles that grew larger each year.  UNRWA is advertising that it cost $1,350 to pay for one emergency health kit.  20,000 of the refugees have moved to camps in Lebanon which are over-crowded.

"The United States had considered the original refugees and their descendants to be refugees.  In May 2012, the United State Senate Appropriations Committee approved a definition of a Palestine refugee to include only those original Palestine refugees who were actually displaced between June 1946 and May 1948, resulting in an estimated number of 30,000."

I would say that by making Palestinian refugees a special case, they have now been caught in wars made by their own people.  For 65 years they have lingered as refugees, surviving off of the handouts of the UN, and rather quite well at that.  Gaza was taken over by Hamas, and their people had voted for them.   Their population is 1.5 million, of which 1.1 million are refugees living in 8 camps.  Rafah is the largest camp with 104,000 and Deir el Bahah is the smallest with 21,000. There are 218,000 school aged children. "Operating through more than 11,000 staff in over 200 installations across the Gaza Strip, UNRWA delivers education, health care, relief and social services, microcredit and emergency assistance to registered Palestine refugees."  This means that "80 per cent of the population is dependent on international assistance."

Hamas is in the camps. "[Andrew Kennis] I am here with a leader from Hamas in the middle of the Jenin refugee camp, and my first question was going to be, what is Hamas?  The Jenin camp is in Jordan, yet Hamas is known there.  Many of the camp’s residents work in the agricultural sector around Jenin. Like other West Bank camps, it was established on land UNRWA leased from the government of Jordan." 

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