Source >> Palestine Studies
If you are to read Western news reports coming from Israel, you would likely believe that Kfar Azza, Be’eri, Erez, Nahal Oz, and the other settlements that surround Gaza are “idyllic spots,” “little pieces of paradise, little pieces of heaven;” and “small farming communities.”
What is missing from this picture, what is missing from the vast majority of Western news reports on the genocide unfolding in Gaza is that these “pieces of paradise” are built on stolen land — stolen by Zionists from the Palestinian people through violence. And that the Palestinian population have been huddled and caged in one small corner of their original lands for over 75 years. That is what is currently called the Gaza Strip. About 80 percent of Gaza’s population are refugees, refugees from what today is called the Gaza perimeter. As Palestinian resistance increased over the years, as Palestinians, generation after generation, have tried to break the cage and return home, that cage has become tighter and tighter.
That is how the Israeli residents of these “farming communities” — around 50,000 people living on 1,038 squared kilometres of stolen lands (the Sha’ar HaNegev, Eshkol, and Sdot Negev regional councils)— have been able for years to live, prosper, raise families, have dinners, swim in pools, dance, sing and celebrate “unity and love” in large concerts just a few kilometres away from where over 2.1 million people live on 365 squared kilometres, usurped from their lands, subjugated to daily humiliation, purposely impoverished and caged in, unable to move, live, fish in the sea, and certainly unable to celebrate “unity and love.”
A simple glance at Google maps puts this reality in plain sight. How can such an urban reality exist? A people density of 5,753 people per squared kilometre next to a people density of 48 people per squared kilometre. Can there be any doubt that in order to keep such a reality for decades a vast amount of daily violence needs to be applied in order to prevent any spill over?
Palestinians live this reality on a daily basis, while Israelis, living in “idyllic spots,” thought that they could afford to forget it. They thought they could afford to forget how they came to live on that very land.
Let us here, remind ourselves of this reality.
In an oral history project of interviews with Zionist fighters, the truth is spoken plainly and simply. Michael Cohen from the Negev Brigade of the Israeli Occupation Forces (Formed from the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah) explains in a recorded video how the brigade expelled Palestinians in October 1948 from what “today you would call the Gaza Perimeter. It’s the entire Western sector bordering on today’s Gaza Strip.” He explains how “expelling was easy.” That the majority of the Palestinians “had no plans to hurt us” but that “we couldn’t allow ourselves, we, as an army and the [Jewish] settlements around us, to leave Arab settlements in our underbelly. We kicked them out.”
He explains how in many places, Palestinians left without a fight: “On one or two occasions, there was some sort of resistance, even using firearms. But that was rare … The Negev was cleared of all villages!” But with time the soldiers realized that the people they had expelled were coming back and that “it was difficult to finish the job with them.” He explains that they had to block them, “block means shoot to kill!” In his own words: “So in that case I saw it with my own eyes, I didn’t just see it with my own eyes, I also did it. Expulsion was one thing that needed to be done and it was done.”
Indeed, violent expulsion was done, but violence breeds violence. Through Cohen’s testimony we can see how Palestinian resistance was changing and adapting in response to Israeli violence. The villagers and Bedouins went from friendly coexistence, to acquiescence, to non-violent resistance by quietly returning to their lands, but once faced with deadly force, they resorted to armed resistance, they started attacking roads and planting mines. The Israeli response was more violence, they demolished Palestinian homes and burned fields forcing the population to flee again. Cohen explains how they planted explosives and “would topple down the houses in one full swoop.” He further explains: “The demolition [of the houses] and/or the burning of the fields, it wasn’t a one-time thing during the deportation, it was a process.”
Avri Ya’ari of the Haganah explains in another recorded video how they expelled the people of Huj (هوج), a Palestinian village lying 2.5 kilometres from the current Israeli settlement of Sderot and 6.5 kilometres from the Gaza Strip; where Ariel Sharon built a ranch. Through Ya’ari’s testimony we get a sense of the large disproportionate of force between the Israeli armed forces and the Palestinians and again we see how the Palestinian population was peaceful.
Ya’ari: There was Huj … but the relations with them were very good …
Interviewer: The Arab population, when did they leave the area?
Ya’ari: When they were told to. [Laughter]
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Ya’ari: They were told to take a hike.
Interviewer: Who told them?
Ya’ari: The army, the Israeli Defense Forces. In certain stages … how should I say it? They cleared the area of Arabs. The people of Huj, who had been very friendly and later suffered terribly in the refugee camps, they told them, they’d be back in two or three weeks.
Palestinians indeed have been attempting to return ever since by any and all means at their disposal. Therefore, if you wish to help end the violence, to usher in peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis, then recognize what lands Israeli settlements have been built on and call them by their names, their real names. In the table below is a list of some of the settlements that surround Gaza and the corresponding Palestinian lands that they have been built on, whether it be city, village, or tribal lands.
|Israeli settlement||Name of depopulated Palestinian city that corresponding Israeli settlement is built on||Name of depopulated Palestinian village that corresponding Israeli settlement is built on||Name of depopulated Tribal land that corresponding Israeli settlement is built on||Additional notes from author|
|Ashkelon||Al-Majdal (المجدل)Al-Jura (الجورة),Al-Khisas (الخصاص),Ni’ilya (نعليا)||Built on the village lands and orchards|
|Zikim||Hirbiya (هربيا)||Built on the citrus groves of the village|
|Karmiya||Hirbiya (هربيا)||Built on the orchards of the village|
|Mavqiim||Barbara (بربرة)||Built on the village and its orchards|
|Mefalsim||Wadi ez Zeit of Gaza city|
|Kfar Aza||Turkman quarter of Gaza city|
|Nahal Oz||Waqf Esh Sheikh Zarif in Gaza city (وقف الشيخ ظريف)|
|Sa’ad||Jdeide quarter of Gaza city|
|Alumin||Turkman quarter of Gaza city|
|Be’eri||Wuhaitat al Tarabin (الوحيدات ترابين) clan of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe lands|
|Re’im||Ghawali al-Zari’i (غوالي الزريعي) clan of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe lands||Built next to the ancient ruins of Tell Jamma (تل جمة) in the Gaza valley|
|Kisufim||Abu Khammash (ابو خماش) clan of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe lands|
|En HaShlosha||Ma’in Abu Sitta village (معين ابو ستة), Umm Tina hamlet (ام تينة)||part of the Arab al Ghawali (عرب الغوالي) clan of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe||Umm Tina is described in an oral history project by a former villager as “fertile land extending as far as the eye can see, wide and spacious, with almond orchards and fields of wheat, barley, lentils, watermelons, and cantaloupes … a wonderful country.”|
|Nirim||Ma’in Abu Sitta village (معين ابو ستة),||part of the Arab al Ghawali (عرب الغوالي) clan of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe||Built on the ruins of the village’s former school|
|Nir Oz||Ma’in Abu Sitta village (معين ابو ستة),||part of the Arab al Ghawali (عرب الغوالي) clan of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe||Built on the village orchards|
|Magen||Ma’in Abu Sitta village (معين ابو ستة), Abu Tailakh (أبو تيلخ) and Abu Nuqeira (ابو نقيرة) hamlets||Part of Arab al Ghawali (عرب الغوالي) clan of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe||Built on the village orchards, engulfing the shrine of Sheikh Nuran (مقام الشيخ نوران ) and the Abu Qurayda spring (بئر أبو قريدة)|
|Ami’Oz,Zohar,Ohad,Mivtahim,Yesha||Umm ‘Ajwe (أم عجوة) and Tell Rabiya (تل رابية) hamlets||Part of the Najmat clan (نجمات ) of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe|
|Sde Nitsan,Talmei Eliyahu||Karm ‘Aqel (كرم عقل)||Part of the Najmat clan (نجمات ) of the Tarabin (ترابين) tribe|
|Holit||El-Buhdari hamlet (كرم البهداري)||Part of the Najmat al-Kassar (نجمات القصار) clan of the Tarabin tribe (ترابين)||Built on the village orchards|
|Peri-Gan,Sede-Avraham, Deqel,Talme-Yosef,Avshalom,Yated,Yevul||El-Ahmar (كرم الاحمر) and El-Khilawi (كرم الخلاوي) hamlet||Part of the Najmat al-Kassar (نجمات القصار) clan of the Tarabin tribe (ترابين)||Built on the village orchards|
Editor’s Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Feel free to contact the author directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also seek additional resources such as All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, the Interactive Encyclopedia of the Palestine Question (Places section), Palestine Open Maps, Palestine Remembered, and The Return Journey (Atlas) for further reading on the history of destroyed and depopulated villages across all of Palestine.
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