The right of return to free Palestine

76 years later, Palestinian return to the homes and lands we were expelled from in 1948 is feasible and, of course, legal. To Palestinians, it is also sacred and inevitable.

A young Palestinian looks at a poster listing the villages that demonstrators at the Great March of Return plan to return to once the Palestinian right of return is honoured, 30 March 2018

Salman Abu Sitta’s speech to the Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine in Johannesburg, South Africa on 10-12 May 2024, in Mondoweiss on 15 May 2024:

Dear Friends in South Africa,

I have the honor to address you today. As millions of Palestinians, we have the greatest gratitude and admiration for South Africa, which among 193 UN member states, was the only one to stand before the International Court of Justice and charge Israel with the heinous crime of Genocide. South Africa, like us, knows the meaning of Apartheid, colonization, ethnic cleansing and erasure of a nation from its homeland.

We all remember what Nelson Mandela said, “Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians”.

There are many common features of our histories.

The Israeli Genocide in Gaza is deeply rooted and well planned for more than a century. You heard the myth propagated in Europe a century ago that Palestine was a land without people. It turned out to be a Zionist plan to make it so, a land without a people, to empty it, to expel its people and kill them.  In 1940, Yousef Weitz, the Zionist colonist under the British Mandate, declared, before Israel was declared,  that “not one [Palestinian] village” will remain in Palestine.  That was the plan for Al Nakba

In 1948, 530 cities and villages were attacked and depopulated by a Zionist European army of 120,000 soldiers in 9 brigades which carried out 31 military operations and committed 90 massacres, occupied 78% of Palestine. They made its people refugees till to today. They are now 9 million Palestinian refugees.

The hypocritical West cries that the hostages must return home. They send bombs to kill, they cast veto to kill international law, they prevent entry of food and medicine, they aid and abet total destruction of Gaza.

All this is in order to release captured East European settlers “to return home”.

I fully agree that all hostages must be freed to return home.

But who are the real hostages?

They are two million Palestinian refugees in Gaza Concentration Camp, from 247 towns and villages in southern Palestine expelled by Israel in 1948, through dozens of massacres. They are crammed in a concentration camp called Gaza Strip at a density of 8000 persons/km2. Its area is 1.3% of Palestine, or 365 km2. Their homes are in the southern district of Palestine, which is 12,500 km2.

Who occupies their home now?

East European settlers from Romania, Poland, Ukraine and Russia. Their number is only 150,000, at a density of only 7 persons/km2, one thousand times less than the owners of the land, the refugees in Gaza.

So, who are the real hostages?

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