195 dead, 777 injured and 120 missing. Thursday, November 2, Hamas drew up a terrible human toll after the Israeli strikes which fell on the Jabaliya refugee camp, in Gaza, during the day of Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the Gaza Strip, nearly 1.7 million people hold refugee status, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA), or more than 80% of the population. This very high proportion of refugees is explained by the fact that this status has been passed down from generation to generation since 1948, when the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians began.
Transmission of refugee status by birth
During the first Israeli-Palestinian war, around 800,000 Palestinians were chased from their land by Israeli fighters or decided to flee the hostilities on their own. This mass exile is called the “Nakba” – “catastrophe” in Arabic. Some found refuge in what is now the West Bank, while around 180,000 people settled in Gaza and acquired refugee status. This status, supposed to be temporary, becomes definitive with the victory of Israel over the Arab forces.
Seventy-five years later, these displaced populations have still not been allowed to return. “Legally, they are custodians of the right of return, even if it is not put into practice since they remain stuck in Gaza,” analyzes Xavier Guignard, member of the Noria research center and specialist in Palestine.
And this, despite Resolution 194 of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted in 1949, which reaffirms the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to “return to their homes” and “recover their property,” explains the United Nations website. Therefore, for Palestinians, refugee status is passed from parents to descendants, which is an exception.
Very precarious living conditions in refugee camps
Currently, more than half of these displaced populations still live in the 8 refugee camps identified in the Gaza Strip, estimates Abaher El-Sakka, professor of sociology at Birzeit University, in Palestine. . Jabaliya is home to the largest of these camps, where almost 116,000 people live. In Nuseirat or Al-Shati, many Palestinians are also crowded into makeshift shelters which make them particularly vulnerable to Israeli bombings.
Thanks to their refugee status, they benefit from humanitarian aid delivered by UNRWA, a UN agency whose mission is to provide humanitarian relief assistance to Palestinian refugees present in the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank. , in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Since 1949, and until the Palestinian question is resolved, this organization is responsible for ensuring food distributions, the proper functioning of hospitals as well as the management of schools, “currently transformed into refuges” while the bombings of the The Israeli army is raging in Gaza, underlines Abaher El-Sakka.