The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas stressed Tuesday that the Palestinian right of return is a basic human right guaranteed by all international laws and resolutions.
In its statement issued on the World Refugee Day, the Hamas Office of Refugee Affairs said that the Palestinian refugees’ humanitarian condition has sharply deteriorated in light of the decrease of services offered by The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in its five fields of operations.
UNRWA is responsible for providing Palestinian refugees with all their necessary needs including shelter, medicine, food, and education till their return to their homeland, the statement reads.
Hamas urged the international community to bear its responsibility towards the Palestinian refugees' issue, urging the host countries particularly Lebanon to provide Palestinian refugees with their civil, social, and humanitarian rights.
66 % of Palestinians became refugees in 1948
Meanwhile, on the anniversary of World Refugee Day, and one month after the 69th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, or “catastrophe,” it is estimated that 66 percent of Palestinians who were living in British-Mandate Palestine in 1948 were expelled from historic Palestine and displaced paving war to the creation of the usurper Israeli regime.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), said, “The human plight and tragedy that has befallen on the Palestinian people” resulted in approximately 957,000 Palestinian refugees -- 66 percent of the total population of Palestinian who were living in historic Palestine on the eve of the war in 1948."
PCBS noted that today, UNRWA estimates that the number of registered Palestinian refugees in 2016 amounted to about 5.9 million, highlighting that this figure was representative of a minimum number.
Palestinian legal NGO BADIL has previously estimated the number to be around 7.2 million.
As of 2016, Palestinian refugees in the West Bank registered with UNRWA accounted for 17 percent of the total refugees registered with the organization, while refugees in Gaza accounted for 24.5 percent.
According to UNRWA, 42 percent of the total population of the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip are internally displaced refugees from historic Palestine, with data indicated that Palestinian refugees living in the occupied territory and Gaza have an overall unemployment rate of 33.3 percent in 2016, compared to 22.3 percent among non-refugees.
Gaza, open air prison
Meanwhile, Gaza, which has often been compared to an “open air prison” for its 1.9 million inhabitants crowded into 365 square kilometers, has suffered from a decade of isolation and deprivation, made all the worse by three devastating Israeli military operations, and persistent intra-Palestinian political strife.
Across the diaspora, the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Jordan amounted to 39.1 percent of the total refugees registered, while the percentage of Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon and Syria numbered at 8.8 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively.
According to UNRWA, while Palestinian refugees in Lebanon represent an estimated 10 percent of the population of Lebanon, they lack many basic rights, as they are not formally citizens of another state and are unable to claim the same rights as other foreigners living in Lebanon. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, for example, are prevented from working in up to 20 highly-skilled professions.
Arrogant Netanyahu wants UNRWA disbanded
Last week, Prime Minister of the usurper Israeli regime Benjamin Netanyahu called for the dismantlement of UNRWA, saying “UNRWA, to a large degree, by its very existence, perpetuates -- and does not solve -- the Palestinian refugee problem.”
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned Netanyahu, saying his statements were “the epitome of arrogance, particularly since Israel itself is responsible for creating the Palestinian refugee problem.”
In 1948, the Israeli regime was established through the Nakba (Catastrophe): erasure and occupation of more than 500 Palestinian towns and villages, dispossession of over 750,000 Palestinians, and a terror campaign of which the massacre at Deir Yassin is but the most infamous example. Since 1967, Israel has also occupied and colonized the remainder of historic Palestine. Today, this relentless ethnic cleansing continues — armed and financed by the US and its allies — on both sides of the 1948 “Green Line.”
As a cumulative result, seventy percent of Palestinians are in exile, the world’s largest refugee population.