Most Palestinians Penetrated into the Land of Israel Between 1870s’-1948

By historian Dr. Rivka Shpak Lissak


The Arabs conquered the Land of Israel between 632 – 640 A.D from the Byzantine Empire. They occupied the country from 640 until 1099, when the Crusaders conquered the country. During those years the country became a battle field between Arab families, and suffered from invasions of Bedouin tribes who robbed and murdered the population, and the Byzantines and others who wished to occupy the country.

The wars destroyed the economy and the country was deserted by some of its old population: Christians, Jews and Samaritans. But, although Arabs immigrated to the country, they did not become a majority as was proved by the Archeological Survey made by M. Aviam. The economical and security situation did not encourage immigration.

The Arabs immigrated into the land of Israel in 4 waves.

The first wave was after the occupation of the country by the Arabs in the 7th century. Most scholars agree that the composition of the population did not change from the days of the Byzantine occupation, and the majority of the population was composed of Greek Orthodox Christians and 2 minorities: Jews and Samaritans. Some Bedouin nomad tribes lived in the south. Arabs settled in cities along the coast and in some other cities such as Jerusalem, Tiberias and more. The soldiers who conquered the country belonged to Bedouin tribes who settled on the borders.

The second wave came between the middle of the 9th century and 1099. During those years Bedouin tribes from the deserts of Arabia, Trans Jordan, Syrian desert, Sinai and Egypt invaded the country and robbed its people. Some of them settled in north Samaria, and some other places after they have driven out the local peasants. Lack of records makes it difficult to evaluate the number of Arabs who settled during this period.

Still, according to Latin and archeological data , brought in Prof. Roni Allenblum’s study on the Kingdom of the Crusaders, we know that the country was settled along religious-ethnic lines with small enclaves: The north of Samaria became Arabic, the south and the Jerusalem area was mostly Christian, and so was the western Galilee. The eastern Galilee was Jewish with some enclaves of Christians and Arabs, and the cities along the coast were of mixed population.

During the conquest, in 1099, the Crusaders massacred many Arabs and many others ran away.

The 3rd wave began after the occupation of the country by the Turks (1516) during the 16th and 17th centuries. Arabs and Muslims from many countries came to settle in the country. According to the Turkish census of the 16th century, there were about 300,000 people in the country, mostly Muslims.

But, the economic situation and the lack of personal safety, caused people to leave, Muslims included. During the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries, the population became smaller and smaller. Tourists from Europe and the United States described the country as deserted by its population and the land uncultivated.

The last and largest wave came between the middle of the 10th century and 1948, when Israel was established. Arabs and Muslims from the Islamic countries entered the country illegally during the Turkish and latter the British rule. They entered through the northern, eastern and southern borders, looking for jobs created by the Zionist Movement, Jewish investors and by the British Mandate (1918 – 1948).

The Arab and Muslim population grew especially in those areas were Jews settled because these were the places were jobs were available. Thus, the Arab population between Tel Aviv and Haifa grew between 1922-1944 from about 10,000 to more than 30,000, and the Arab and Muslim population along the sea coast from Jaffa to the Egyptian border grew between 1922- 1944 by more than 200%.
From 1870s’ to 1948, the Arab and Muslim population grew by 270%. Even in Egypt, the Arab country with the highest birth rate, the population grew by only 105%.

The 1931 British census in Palestine (the name the British Mandate gave the country) showed that more than 50 languages were spoken by the Arab and Muslim population. The rate of children`s deaths, the low life expectancy, and the lack of health services in the country, made it impossible to reach 270% of birth rate.

In short, from about 250,000 around the 1880s’ the Arabic and Muslim population grew to almost 1,200,000 in 1948. A large percentage of these people were immigrant workers. Since, the Palestinian refugees (the Arabs defined themselves as Palestinians since the 1960s only) came from the area of the Jewish state, it is reasonable to say that many of the so called Palestinians are Arabs and Muslims from the Arab and Muslim countries.

The Palestinian claim that they are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel has no ground.

Copyright by the author.

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