Since the establishment of the state in 1948, successive Israeli governments have consistently assigned budgets and created programs to obliterate the physical Palestinian presence and break down morale in the various coastal Palestinian cities, which became known as “mixed cities” after their indigenous populations were displaced during the Nakba, and their neighbourhoods were settled by immigrant Jewish families. These policies have culminated in a process known as “Judaization,” which has been successful in uprooting Palestinians and settling Israeli immigrants in their homes. Furthermore, this process seeks to systematically destroy all human and cultural landmarks that signify and are reminiscent of the indigenous residents, through supporting “constructional” projects which seek to modernise Israel through destroying the old (Arab) areas, and changing their features as much as possible to make them more “Israeli”; thus reshaping history through modifying the present.
Acre is a typical case of this “Judaization” project, with Palestinian residents battling a number of policies which aim to slowly displace them through constricting their lives within the city, denying them basic services, preventing the renovation and repair of their homes, and using various tenuous arguments to evict them. This process is not only supported by the legal system, but receives financial support from government departments who fund public and private initiatives under the pretext of “development,” which in practice has come to mean Judaization and the expulsion of Arabs.
The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) affirms that the official actions of governmental bodies and the Local Authority (Acre Municipality), as well as those of private companies such as the Acre Development Company, constitute a campaign of human rights violations which fall under the responsibility of the government. The numerous discriminatory processes are in flagrant violation of the international covenants on human rights, specifically the rights to adequate and safe housing, to own property, to live in a healthy and safe environment, and the right to receive basic services such as education and healthcare, without having to relinquish their right to remain in the homes, neighbourhoods and city where they were born.
The struggle of the Palestinians in Acre, as in all the coastal Palestinian (mixed) cities constitutes a fight for survival – a battle for the right to adequate housing and a life of dignity. In issuing this report, the Arab Association for Human Rights hopes to shed light on these human rights issues, and to provide a tool, in the form of knowledge, to assist the people of Acre, and the other mixed cities, in their persistent struggle for survival.
The HRA furthermore affirms the need to support the people of Acre in escalating this struggle through organised public action, in order to put these issues on the national political and human rights agendas, as well as the international agenda. It is with great urgency that we reiterate that cleansing Acre of its indigenous residents is a crime which cannot be confined to within the walls of the city and concealed from Israeli and international media, or from governments, embassies, or international bodies such as the United Nations and the European Union.