Al-Ahram Weekly Special pages commemorating
50 years of Arab dispossession
since the creation of the
State of Israel
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

The plight continues


Continuing Exodus: 1968

They have just arrived in east Jordan, crossing the temporary bridge, near to the newly destroyed Allenby Bridge, from the Israeli-Occupied West Bank.

Despite military action in the Jordan valley, there was a continuing exodus of Palestinians, from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that numbered between two and four thousand a month from the autumn of 1967 until the early summer of 1968.

The distances on the signboard, partially obscured, read "JERICHO 8 Km JERSLM 43 Km"

Photo by George Nemeh

Rations in the Desert

Rations in the Desert

In the early 1950s, UNRWA used to deliver rations to Palestine refugees in remote areas of Jordan. Every three months, UNRWA convoys would drive out into the desert as here near Shobak. Refugees would come five miles from their homes to meet the convoy at an appointed bend on the road heading to Aqaba.

Gaza in 1967

From 1948 until 1967, the Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt. The residence there were linked with the outside world by one narrow road through the 200 miles of Sinai desert to Cairo. Another exit was the Mediterranean Sea. Both links were cut off by the 1967 war.

This photo shows Palestinians leaving the Gaza Strip on small fishing boats.

Convent near Bethlehem

Since the first days of the exodus of Arab refugees, people found shelter in the different convents around Bethlehem.
In the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Convent, hard on the walls of the Church of the Nativity itself at one time 200 persons took refuge. Today still 15 families remain.
Here in the Convent refectory is the home of Armin Seferian (43), standing between his wife and children, is a refugee for the second time in his life, having narrowly escaped a massacre by the Turks when he was twelve years old. After many wanderings, he managed to set up his own tailoring business in Jerusalem. Today he is a refugee again; for his shop lies in the side of Jerusalem today in Israel. Now he finds occasional work for which he earns very little.
For eight years his family has been living in the Convent. Only at Christmas time, when the refectory is used each year as a dining room, must they carry out all their belongings into a vault below. On all festive occasions Armin's wife becomes the Convent cook, for which she is paid $ 10 a month.

Destruction in refugee camps
Israeli Raids Bring Destruction to Refugee Camps in South Lebanon

Nabatiah, Ein el-Hilweh, Burj el-Shemali and Rashidieh are Palestine refugee camps in south Lebanon for refugees who left their homes as a result of the first Arab-Israeli hostilities in 1948. In May and June of 1974, many of the 50,000 inhabitants of these four camps fled in terror as their shelters were turned to rubble during a series of Israeli air and sea attacks on south Lebanon in which 43 registered refugees were killed and 101 were injured.
An estimated 1,500 shelters and refugee-built extensions were completely destroyed, as well as several UNRWA installations including a school. In Nabatieh alone, 80% of the concrete block shelters erected by UNRWA in which more than 3,000 refugees had been living, were hit. This refugee, a resident of Burj al-Shemali, lost his one-room shelter.
UNRWA immediately issued blankets and dry rations to the homeless refugees who took shelter in nearby mosques and schools. The Agency also provided an emergency feedin programme and a mobile medical unit for the people of the area. Reconstruction and repair of damage to refugee shelters in Rashidieh, Ein el-Hilweh and Burj el-Shemali has been carried out on a self-help basis with the Agency providing building materials. But fearful of continuing raids on their camps, none of the residents of Nabatieh and less than half of those of Rashidieh have returned to their "homes".

Photo by Jack Madvo

Dheisheh camp

Dheisheh camp (pop. 8,600), West Bank, is one of 59 camps established in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war to accommodate the thousands of Palestinians in their exodus from Palestine.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was established in May 1950 to care for these refugees until such time as a permanent solution could be found. However, almost half a century later UNRWA is still providing the Palestine refugees, now numbering 3.2 million, with education, health, and relief and social services.

Photo by Myrtle Winter-Chaumeny

Aqabat Jabr refugee camp: Jericho, West Bank

Aqabat Jabr refugee camp: Jericho, West Bank

Every morning and evening these women go to fetch water from Elisha's fountain for their families who live in the Palestine refugee camp at Aqabat Jabr, which lies in the shadow of the near Jericho. Displaced from their homes in Palestine in 1948, a large number of refugees stayed here in the Jordan valley because there are many springs to provide them with that precious commodity - water. Elisha's fountain provides water for this camp, as it did for the ancient city of Jericho more than 6,000 years ago.
As a result to the 1968 Arab-Israeli war only 2,273 persons put of 52,000 remain in the three camps in Jericho area, most of them concentrated in Aqabat Jabr. The others once again fled, across the Jordan river into east Jordan.


A street in Qalqilya: June 1967

A Street in Qalqilya

According to UNRWA's Annual Report, "In Qalqilya (near Nablus) and five other small frontier villages in the Latrun and Hebron areas, many houses were damaged or destroyed during the fighting or were subsequently demolished. The extent of the destruction varies from rather less than half the houses in Qalqilya to virtually total destruction in some of the smaller villages".

UNIRWA school

In the early years of UNRWA, the greater part of the Agency's resources was devoted to relief services. Now it is devoted to education. The Agency and the refugees themselves regard the education as the best means to improve their conditions.
Today there are 330,000 Palestine refugee children at UNRWA school system which now is threatened with closure because of lack of money.

Photo by Z. Mazakian

Return to West Bank

Arab Refugees Return to West Bank of the Jordan: August 1967

In July 1967, Israel announced plans for the return of displaced Arabs to the West Bank. Half to three quarters of the 200,000 Arabs who fled to east Jordan following hostilities in June 1967 applied to return. By 1972, 40,000 Arabs were allowed back to the West Bank; but, only 3,000 of this number were UNRWA-registered refugees.

Photo by Myrtle Winter

Photos courtesy of
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)

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