Arab Immigration and the 1948 Refugees

Time and again, the argument is heard that the Palestinians lived in the land of Israel for many centuries as a homogeneous people—until the advent of Zionism, after which they were subject to expulsions, oppression, and occupation. But, notes Yoram Ettinger, in the pre-state era the Arab and Muslim population was in fact highly heterogeneous, and composed to a large degree of immigrants and their descendants:

[For instance], between 1880 and 1919, Haifa’s Arab population surged from 6,000 to 80,000, mostly due to migrant workers. The eruption of World War II accelerated the demand for Arab manpower by the British Mandate’s military and civilian authorities. Moreover, Arab migrant workers were imported by the Ottoman empire, and then by the British administration, to work in major civilian and military infrastructure projects. Legal and illegal Arab migrants were also attracted by economic growth, which was generated by the Jewish community beginning in 1882.

According to a 1937 report by the British Peel Commission, from “1922 through 1931, the increase of Arab population in the mixed-towns of Haifa, Jaffa, and Jerusalem was 86 percent, 62 percent, and 37 percent respectively, while in purely Arab towns such as Nablus and Hebron it was only 7 percent, [with] a decrease of 2 percent in Gaza.”

Read more at Ettinger Report

More about: Haifa, Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Mandate Palestine, Palestinians

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security