Ashkelon’s History of Ethnic Cleansing

Many of the Palestinian families fleeing from the Israeli army in 1948, went to nearby Gaza, thinking they would be able to return when the Israeli army left.  The army did not leave and Israel began moving mostly European and other recently immigrated Jews into the Palestinians’ homes.  Two years later, the Israeli army completed the ethnic cleansing, forcing virtually all of the remaining Palestinians to leave by loading them in trucks and taking them to Gaza.

Jewish-Israeli historian Benny Morris writes about Majdal Asqualan:

“What is clear is that after a year and a half of bureaucratic foot-dragging, the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] in 1950 wanted this last concentration of Arabs in the southern coastal plain to leave, and engineered their departure. The Majdal Arabs’ own uneasiness at life as a ghettoized minority, under military rule, hemmed in by barbed wire and a pass system, dependent on Israeli handouts, largely unemployed and destitute, cut off from their relatives in Gaza and from the Arab world in general, served as a preparatory background. [..] When these [methods] proved insufficient with the remaining hard-core Histadrut- protected inhabitants, the army availed itself, in September and early October, of cruder methods -shooting in the night, threatening behaviour by the soldiery, unpleasant early-hour-of -the-morning visitations, frequent summons, and occasional arrests. The use of these methods was hidden from the Israeli public and, probably, lacked Cabinet authorization.”

Israel renamed the town Ashkelon and to this day, the Israeli government has refused to allow these Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands as required by United Nations Resolution 194, passed in December 1948.  Many of these refugees and their descendants live a few miles away in the Gaza strip, which has been blockaded and under siege since 2006.

Journalist Dan Lieberman writes:
“The nightmare for the expelled residents of Al-Majdal did not end with their arduous trip to Gaza. Without going into detail, the years from 1950 until the present have been years of internment in refugee camps, brutal occupation, constant strife, military raids in their neighborhoods, destruction of facilities, denial of everyday life, denial of livelihood, denial of access to the sea, denial of access to the outside world. In 1994, after the signing of the Oslo accords, Israel constructed a 60-kilometer fence around the Gaza Strip and from December 2000 to June 2001 reinforced and rebuilt parts of the fence. … the lives of the surviving Al-Majdal refugees and their descendants evolved from being wards of the United Nations to virtual imprisonment in an overly crowded environment.”



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