Palestine through the Arab – Israeli Conflict

There have been tensions between Arabs and Israeli’s since the early 20th century. This peaked in 1948 following the first Arab-Israeli war, since then, the fighting never stopped. This is a harsh timeline of the lives of Palestinians:

A Palestinian child plays in an impoverished area of the Khan Yunis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip on July 29, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS

 

Where did the Palestinians initially go in 1948-49? How have they moved around since?

Throughout the years 1948-49, Palestinians initially fled to refugee camps which were in neighbouring states (southern Lebanon & bekah valley) and places including the Gaza strips, west bank, Jordan and Lebanon. Since then, they have moved around various different states but mainly they have lived in refugee camps which tended to be of poor conditions and extremely overcrowded.

 

Why did they flee? Were they forced or did they choose to go?

Most Palestinians left for different reasons. One of the biggest reasons was that Arabs (particularly wealthy) wanted to avoid warfare. They listened to their leaders and obeyed all they said about war. There were a very small number of people who were expelled, but most people made the choice to leave. However, if the Arabs were to accept the 1947 partition plan proposed by the UN, there would have been no refugees, there would be an independent Arab state and no more innocent lives would be taken away.

 

How many refugees were there in 1949? How many are there today?

In 1947, there were over 700,000 Palestinian refugees. They were part of the 1948 Palestinian exodus (Nakba). But today, Palestinians are the largest and longest suffering group of refugees in the world. There are approximately 7.2 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. This shows that there has been an increase of approximately 929% of refugees which have been suffering because of the same problem for nearly 100 years.

 

What conditions do they live in?

Since the beginning of the Palestinian refugee crisis, the living conditions have been extremely poor. They live with minimalistic supplies, no electricity, and poor healthcare facilities. Currently, the refugees are dependent on as little as one electricity generator per camp. Some refugees describe their experience, especially in the winter, as “painful” because that is the time of the year in which floods occur and streets are filled with rain water. In addition, there is an inadequate basic infrastructure, such as roads and sewers. Also, the land which they are living on (their camps are built on) doesn’t belong to them; meaning that it can be stripped from them at any day or time.

 

How has the UN responded to the problem?

The UN responded to the refugee crisis by creating an organisation called “The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). They work to raise money to supply various things for refugees. However, they are only able to impart a certain amount of people and the problem is nowhere near being solved; the fighting continues.

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