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The 1948 Palestinians: The battle of steadfastness, identity and national role

19 7 1

The village of Al-Araqeeb has perhaps summarised the story of the Israeli insistence on uprooting the Palestinian people, and that of the Palestinian insistence on entrenchment in the land and steadfastness against the occupation. One hundred and forty times, the Israelis have destroyed the village located in the Negev area, and 140 times the Palestinians have rebuilt it.

Seventy years ago, during the 1948 war, the Zionists occupied 77 per cent of Palestine, destroyed at least 413 Palestinian villages and towns (estimated by Salman Abu Sitta to be 530), displaced around 800,000 Palestinians such that only 156,000 remained in the 1948 occupied territories (officially called Israel). They found themselves a vulnerable minority in their own land. For 18 years, they were under military rule and emergency laws. Their lands were confiscated, leaving only four per cent in the hands of the 1948 Palestinians.

Until now, the “1948 Palestinians” have maintained their 17 per cent demographic edge, numbering around 1.5 million (excluding East Jerusalem Palestinians). This is despite the fact that the Zionist project has brought about 3.26 million Jews over the last 70 years (1948–2018); but the natural growth of the 1948 Palestinians has maintained their percentage.

READ: UN experts urge Israel to stop targeting Gaza protesters

The 1948 Palestinians have succeeded in their battle of steadfastness on their land, undeterred by the Israeli measures that treated them as “strangers” in their land and as nationals, while giving Jews preferential treatment and other benefits. Israeli repressive measures included Palestinians’ accommodation, housing, construction and use of services, in addition to ways to express their cultural identity and their Palestinian, Arab and Islamic affiliation. As for the Arab towns and villages, they were confined to narrow areas, and no new villages or encampments were allowed; whereas more than 700 Israeli towns, cities and settlements were built in the 1948 territories.

Israel demolishes Al-Araqeeb Village – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

In return, there are still 46 Arab villages in the Negev (Naqab), inhabited by 137,000 Palestinians, which the Israeli occupation deem “unrecognised”, and this means that they are deprived of basic services and construction therein is prohibited or subject to demolition and removal. For example, and in addition to destroying Al-Araqeeb, the........

© Middle East Monitor