This background paper provides a basis and framework for understanding the forced displacement occurring in Gaza as a result of the current assault. In addition to the devastating death toll (current Israeli assault over 9,000 fatalities in Gaza), the destruction of infrastructure, the denial of access to basic necessities, and the displacement of over one million people – over half of the population of Gaza, equivalent to half the population of Namibia – the evacuation orders issued by the Israeli army, coupled with rhetoric around a “second Nakba” constitute forced displacement and may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The term “Nakba” refers to the destruction of Palestine and the permanent forced displacement and dispossession of Palestinians from the 1940s until today.
The majority of the inhabitants of Gaza (approximately 80%) are Palestinian refugees forced to flee as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War – the original Nakba – and have been prevented from returning, in violation of international law. The displacement and denial did not end in 1948, rather Israel has continued to displace Palestinians, both internally and externally through military attacks, deportation, and destruction of homes, among other means.
In the context of the current forced displacement imposed on the people of Gaza, Israel must allow access to safety inside Israel and the rest of occupied Palestine.