Accounts & analysis of the survivors of the 1950 Wadi Araba death march

Thomas Suárez (see
Palestine Hijacked, pp 323-326)

Photograph among several of the aftermath of the Wadi Araba expulsion in TNA, FO 905/111.

In the first days of June, 1950, eighty-seven half-dead naked men and boys as young as seven began turning up on the western frontier of southern Jordan, the Wadi Araba desert region to thesouth of the Dead Sea. They were the survivors of about one hundred twenty ‘infiltrators’ seized by Israel in various parts of the land under its control and marched into this desert to their likely deaths.
Approximately thirty-four of the victims perished, among them at least two girls, one who did not survive the desert and another who the IDF shot dead when she attempted to escape the death march.

Manuscript note on the photo above reads “Group just found being given water by Arab Legion patrol”.

The Wadi Araba expulsion was not in itself exceptional. Israel had conducted such forced marches during its 1948 ethnic cleansing, in which children and the elderly in particular perished along the way. The Wadi Araba expulsion was unique, however, in that many of the victims survived when found by Bedouin and Arab Legion patrols, and their stories were documented and corroborated.

Two years into Israeli statehood, these accounts offer an unparalleled examination of Palestinian ‘infiltrators’, who they were, their motivations, how Israel dealt with them, and how Israeli media reported it. Since they were arrested over a wide area and over a period of several months, we can assume that they are a representative sampling of these unfortunate people.

Three chroniclers interviewed the survivors: a representative from the International Red Cross, a Belgian observer from the MAC, and a correspondent from The Observer (UK). Fifty-one survivors are accounted for in forty-nine interviews. Their stories closely corroborated.


The survivors
:

Salman Ibrik
A shepherd, unable to find work in Khan Younis (Gaza), tried to reach Hebron (which lay on the Palestinian side of the Partition). He was captured, imprisoned, and beaten by Israeli soldiers upon entering no man’s land east of Gaza.

Tewfic Mohd Hussein
Age 17, remained in his hometown of Tira after its occupation by the Jews in 1948. Three months before the Wadi Araba incident, he was arrested on the claim that he helped the Arabs in Tira in the 1948 war, when he was 15. He was never questioned, but remained in custody until being put on the truck to the desert.

Mohamed Adbul Ghaffar Hussein
Age 21, married with children. His family was split up when he was made a refugee in Quolia (Ramallah) by the Israelis in 1948. He was caught by the Israelis when he tried to cross the Demarcation Line to visit his mother in Lydda
.

Mohd Saleh El-Hilu

Age 55, a mason, was ethnically cleansed from Jaffa in 1948, ending up a refugee in Gaza. Due to economic desperation, he and his son tried to leave Gaza and reach Amman by way of Hebron but were caught by the Israelis
.

Musa Saleh Suleiman

Age 16, was an Israeli Arab in his hometown of Tira. The Israelis arrested him when they were told that the boy’s father worked as a cook for the Arab Legion.

Moh’d Jume Hassan
Age 49, a driver, married, was a refugee in Gaza attempting to rejoin his family in Hebron. He was captured by an Israeli patrol near Beit Hanoun (Gaza), imprisoned and beaten
.

Sharaf Abd Said

Age 22, a mechanic, ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, ended up a refugee in Gaza while his father ended up in Nablus. He tried to rejoin his father but was captured.

Ahmad Abdul Kareem Fakhouri
Age 18, married, was sitting on a bridge in his village of Irtah (Tulharm) in the Jordanian part, with members of the National Guard. When they saw Israeli vehicles cross over the Demarcation Line, the National Guard members went to investigate. Mr. Abdul, now alone, was seized by some of Israelis soldiers who had crossed over. He was tortured, and beatings on his ears left him hard of hearing.

Daoud Mohd Daoud
Age 13, seized by Israeli soldiers as he was gathering grass in Nattif for the sheep. (Nattif was a village between Jerusalem and Hebron cleansed in 1948, but report refers to it as a sub-district of Ramallah.)

Mohammad Mustapha Ibrahim
Age 30, a laborer from Shoike Tulkarm, was gathering grass for food near the boundary within the Jordanian territory. He was capture by an Israeli patrol and was severely tortured during the 36 days he was held before being trucked to the desert.

Naim Abdul Aziz Buir
Age 18, a weaver, a refugee in Majdel, Gaza, tried to reach Hebron. He was capture, tortured, and trucked to the desert.

Shafiq Mikhael Hsais
Age 30, a carpenter from Ramle, married. He was ethnic cleansed from Ramle and he ended up a refugee in Amman. But his young children and his parents were still in Ramle. He tried to cross to Ramle to see his children and parents, but was captured, beaten, and held for 48 days before the desert crossing.

Ibrahim Khalil Taim
Age 19, from Tira Tulkarem Sub-District, a student in Egypt (Al-Azhar University). He needed to return home to Tira to get money from his family to complete his studies in Egypt. He flew from Cairo to Amman by way of Syria, but was arrested by the Israelis when he tried to reach his family in Tira

Yousif Yasin Mohd
Age 30, from Yasur (Gaza), living in Beit Anabi (Hebron). While harvesting near the border, but on the Jordanian side, “a force of Jews appeared suddenly” and took him away. He was interrogated about the strength of the Arab Legion, but “owing to the severity of the beating” he received during twenty-seven days imprisonment, he and another capture man “had to talk about things we know nothing about.”

Ahmad Abdalla Maghrabi
Age 22, a farmer from Salme[?]. Ethnically cleansed, he had become a refugee in Nablus. He owned an orange grove in Salme, which was now occupied by the Jews. He had hidden £50 on his property, and as he was now desperate, tried to slip back to retrieve his hidden cash. He was caught, beaten, and imprisoned for seven months before being sent to the desert.

Ahmad Ben Ahmad Hawari
Married with children. He had been ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, pushed south and ending up a refugee in Gaza. Desperate for work, he tried to return to Jaffa, but was captured by the Israelis, beaten repeatedly, then shipped off to the desert.

Foad Bakr Beirute
Age 19, tried to reach the Jordanian area from Gaza due to the dire economic situation. After being captured by Israelis he was beaten “day and night without any provocation” for twelve days, then sent to the desert.

Haj Ali Moh’d Ibrahim
Age 88, married, from the Sudan, was captured while making a religious pilgrimage from Sudan to Hebron (and Jerusalem?). Had nothing to do with Palestine.

Fayyadh Hassan Ala Dine
Age 30, from Ramli [Ramle?], married with children. He was ethnically cleansed when the Jews occupied Ramle, but his mother and brother remained in Ramle. His desperate situation as a refugee made him slip back to visit his mother and brother “to get some money to support myself. While in the house the Jews surrounded us. They arrested me and conducted me to the police post of Ramle where they tortured and insulted me. They plucked off the nails of my toes and beat my feet with stones and beat me every day.” They question him about the Arab forces, but he knew nothing. “After about 37 days they took me to Rakhbout colony for torture,” but there a Jew from whom he would buy ice before the 1948 war recognized him and interceded for him. He was taken back to Ramle, and then shipped south to the desert.

Two young children, Ghazi and his brother
Ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, they were living in the refugee camp of Mughazi in Safia Quarter. They were arrested by the Israelis and held for 45 days before being sent into the desert. Their statements were not otherwise taken due to their age.

Abdul Hafith Salama Ghanoun
Seized while harvesting in the Hebron area, imprisoned for 27 days and severely beaten.

Mushab Hussein Deoaifi [?]
Age 58, married, stonedresser. A refugee in Gaza who had been ethnically cleansed from Ramle. Due to economic desperation he tried to return to Ramle, but was captured, imprisoned for 25 days and beaten.

Hassan Ibrahim Haj Quasim
Age 58, married with children. A refugee in Gaza who had been ethnically cleansed from Ramle. Due to economic desperation he tried to get to Amman, was caught, imprisoned for 19 days and tortured.

Abdul Salam Labam
Age 16, married with children. A refugee in Nablus who had been ethnically cleansed from Lydda. He had £50 hidden back home and had to risk getting it due to the desperate situation. Captured, imprisoned for 25 days and beaten.

[names not known]
One man was with his wife and daughter. The daughter died during the ordeal, and wife was sent back to Gaza.

Ibrahim Aref Rashid
A shepherd. While pasturing his sheep near the boundary in the vicinity of Nattif, the Israelis attacked, stole twelve sheep, imprisoned him, and broke one of his limbs through beatings with the butt of their guns. He and those he was with were helped in the desert by a Bedouin.

Mahmoud Mohd Hodhud
Age 38, farmer, married with children. From Majdal, ethnically cleansed, thus a refugee in Gaza. While pasturing his cows near the border near Beit Hanoun, the Israelis seized him and his cows. The imprisoned him in Qatra camp, “beat me and plucked off the nails of my toes.” He was kept there for 130 days before being sent into the desert.

Ahmad Abdul Rahim Shihade
Age 25, from Sarafand el-Kharab, ethnically cleansed, now a refugee in a camp in Gaza. He tried to reach Jerusalem by way of Hebron, but was caught and arrested by the Israelis, brought to Quatra and tortured.

Abdul Hamid Khalid
Age 47, from Thabirie, Hebron area. A farmer, married. While attempting to visit a friend in Gaza, he was intercepted by two civilians and brought to a police station, and treated severely for about twelve days before being sent into the desert.

Ali Hashin Sheafi
Age 22, a mechanic from Jaffa. After Jaffa was ethnically cleansed, his family became refugees at the Maghazi camp in Gaza. The conditions there were so desperate that “if we stayed in the camp without work we would not survive.” He and other men in the camp tried to slip into the Jordanian area, but were captured by the Israelis.

Ibrahim Yousef Rahhal
Age 18, from Kheiria[?]. A refugee, he tried to return to his hometown “as we had left money in our house. When I reached I did not find anything and found the whole village demolished. On my way back I was arrested near Lydda by the Jews...”

Mahmoud Yousif Matouk
Age 19, a shoemaker. Ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, a refugee in Gaza. “In order to find work and support our families,” he and others tried to reach Hebron. He was arrested and imprisoned in Beersheba.

Ihsan Quashta
Age 16, from Ramle. Ethnically cleansed and refugee in the Ramallah area. He slipped to his home town to visit his uncle, “as I had left him in bad need,” but was caught, arrested, and imprisoned for 31 days. “We were beaten every day and received little food,” during that time, then “thrown into the desert.”

Yahya Hassan Roubi
Age 17, from Tirat Bani Sab, Tulkarem area. He had worked as a civilian barber in the 11th Regiment of the Arab Legion, but when the Regiment left he had no work and tried “to slip into Tira to get in touch with my family.” He reached his family’s house, but then “our house was surrounded by the Jews and I was led to the Police Post...” arrested and eventually put on the truck to the desert.

Ahmad Shihade Bilbish [?]
Age 50, from Burka (Barqa, Gaza District). Had hidden some money before being ethnically cleansed. Slipped across to recover it, and was captured. Beaten and tortured at Quatra for 20 days before sent into the desert.

Hussein Bakr Beirute
Age 18, café keeper from Jaffa, Ethnically cleansed, refugee in Gaza. Caught trying to cross to Hebron to earn living.

Eid Odeh Darwish
Age 20, from Rafah. Kidnapped by Jews while ploughing his land on the Egyptian border.

Abd Mustapha Abu Saif
Age 24, married, from Jaffa. Ethnically cleansed, refugee in Gaza. Caught trying to cross to Hebron to earn living.

Daoud Ahmad Daoud
Age 34, from Quatana, married, Jerusalem area. His town, Quatana, happened to lie in the no-man’s land, and was arrested by the Israelis and interrogated about the Arab Legion. The interviewer confirmed that his village lies on the line, and suggests that he was arrested to obtain military information.

Hassan Juma Shat
Age 28, from Ramle. Refugee in Gaza, caught attempting to reach Hebron.

Yousif Quasim Elian
Age 20, refugee from Ajour (‘Ajjur), Hebron area. “I have some grain in my village Ajour which is now on the Jewish side of the line. I went there with an animal to carry the grain for my family. While standing in the middle of the village I suddenly saw the Jews surrounding me. They arrested me, bound my eyes and conducted me to Quatre camp. I stayed there for two months and they tortured me during that period.” Then on trucks to desert.

Ahmad Ben Darwish Aslan
Age 55, a mason, a refugee in Gaza. Due to the deprivation he tried to cross to Hebron to get to Amman, was caught.

Aref Esa Mohd
Age 28, a labourer from Tulkarem. He gone to Egypt about a month earlier, but on his return was captured while between Hebron and Gaza, taken to a camp, “brutally treated,” then sent into the desert.

Ali Ibrahim Esa
Age 18, farmer, from Safiria. A refugee at Shebeteen in Ramallah area, tried to visit his mother who had been left behind at Lydda. Caught before reaching Lydda, imprisoned for two months and “barbarously treated.”

Mohammed Khamis Masri
Age 80, married with children, refugee in Beit Hanoun (Gaza). “While pasturing two cows that belong to me on the boundary of Beit Hanoun, I suddenly saw the Jews surrounding me.” Imprisoned for 37 days before being sent into the desert. (Note: He was kidnapped by Jews when grazing his cows. He may have been on the wrong side of the line, the exact position of which he did not know.)

Eid Odeh Darwish
Age 20, plougher, from Rafah. “While ploughing near the boundary inside the Arab area ... the Jews attacked me and took me with the camel with which I was ploughing.” Took him to Qatra camp, where “they questioned me about the Egyptian forces, but I could not tell them anything as I had no information. They beat me severely and they plucked off the nails of my fingers.” He was imprisoned for 60 days before being shipped to the desert.

Mohd Said Abu Amara
Age 25, from Jaffa. Ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, as a refugee in Khan Younis with young brothers, he tried to reach Hebron “owing to need and lack of work.” Captured and imprisoned in Quatra, the Israelis “whipped us on our backs and we were beaten ruthlessly and thrown on the ground.”

Qusim Ali Ebeid
Age 25, married with children, labourer from Quantana (Jerusalem). While “planting tomatoes in the lands of our village ... I suddenly found the Jews surrounding me.” He was imprisoned for 48 days and beaten before the desert crossing. The Armistice Line cuts through his village; he was working his own garden.

Jamil Mahd Abdul Ghani
Age 18, from Tira. A refugee in Kofr Zibad, the boy “was about to die of hunger and I had to risk life and go to my family at Tira.” Was caught. (“Another divided family.”)

Arafa Ahmad Abu Saif
Age 18, from Jaffa. Ethnically cleansed, refugee in Gaza, caught while trying to get to Hebron for work. “If it were not for my need I would not have made this adventure.”



Summary of the 51 documented Wadi Araba survivors

All but four had been ethnically cleansed by Israel, were destitute as a result, and were attempting only either to reach the West Bank from Gaza, or get to their own homes to rejoin their families or retrieve their own property (hidden cash or grain). By international law and UN Resolution, they had the right to do this; it was ‘illegal’ only because Israel refused to cooperate. For two of the remaining four, the desert crossing was itself the act of ethnic cleansing. The remaining two were happenstance outsiders. None appears to have committed any crime other than having crossed, or alleged to have crossed, the Armistice line.


Ethnically cleansed, refugees in Gaza, tried to reach Jordanian territory (ordered by age)

1. Hussein Bakr Beirute, 18, had been a café keeper in Jaffa. Tried to cross to Hebron to earn living.

2. Naim Abdul Aziz Buir, 18, a weaver, tried to reach Hebron. Tortured.

3. Foad Bakr Beirute, 19, tried to reach Jordanian area due to the dire economic situation. Beaten “day and night without any provocation” for twelve days before the desert crossing.

4. Mahmoud Yousif Matouk, 19, a shoemaker, ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, a refugee in Gaza. “In order to find work and support our families,” he and others tried to reach Hebron.

5. Sharaf Abd Said, 22, a mechanic, ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, was trying to rejoin his father, now a refugee in Nablus.

6. Ali Hashin Sheafi, 22, a mechanic from Jaffa, ethnically cleansed, his family became refugees in Gaza. The conditions there were so desperate that “if we stayed in the camp without work we would not survive.” He and other men in the camp tried to slip into the Jordanian area, but were captured by the Israelis.

7. Abd Mustapha Abu Saif, 24, married, from Jaffa. Tried to cross to Hebron to earn living.

8. Mohd Said Abu Amara, 25, from Jaffa. Ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, as a refugee in Khan Younis with young brothers, he tried to reach Hebron “owing to need and lack of work.” Whipped and beaten.

9. Ahmad Abdul Rahim Shihade, 25, tried to reach Jerusalem by way of Hebron. Tortured.

10. Hassan Juma Shat, 28, from Ramle. Attempted to reach Hebron.

11. Moh’d Jume Hassan, 49, a driver, married, a refugee attempting to rejoin his family in Hebron. Captured by an Israeli patrol near Beit Hanoun (Gaza), imprisoned and beaten.

12. Ahmad Ben Darwish Aslan, 55, a mason; Due to the deprivation he tried to cross to Hebron to get to Amman.

13. Mohd Saleh El-Hilu, 55, a mason ethnically cleansed from Jaffa. Due to the resulting economic desperation, he and his son tried to leave Gaza and reach Amman by way of Hebron.

14. Hassan Ibrahim Haj Quasim, 58, married with children. A refugee in Gaza who had been ethnically cleansed from Ramle. Due to economic desperation he tried to get to Amman, was caught, imprisoned for 19 days and tortured.

15. Salman Ibrik, a shepherd, unable to find work in Khan Younis (Gaza), tried to reach Hebron.



Ethically cleansed, refugee, tried to reach home in (what had become) Israel

16. Abdul Salam Labam, 16, married with children. A refugee in Nablus, ethnically cleansed from Lydda. He had £50 hidden back home and tried to retrieve due to the desperate situation. Imprisoned for 25 days and beaten.

17. Ihsan Quashta, 16, from Ramle. Ethnically cleansed and refugee in the Ramallah area. He slipped to his home town to visit his uncle, “as I had left him in bad need,” but was caught, arrested, and imprisoned for 31 days. “We were beaten every day and received little food,” during that time, then “thrown into the desert.”

18. Yahya Hassan Roubi, 17, from Tirat Bani Sab, Tulkarem area. He had worked as a civilian barber in the 11th Regiment of the Arab Legion, but when the Regiment left he had no work and tried “to slip into Tira to get in touch with my family.” He reached his family’s house, but then “our house was surrounded by the Jews and I was led to the Police Post...” arrested and eventually put on the truck to the desert.

19. Ali Ibrahim Esa, 18, farmer from Safiria. A refugee at Shebeteen in Ramallah area, tried to visit his mother who had been left behind at Lydda. Imprisoned for two months and “barbarously treated.”

20. Jamil Mahd Abdul Ghani, 18, from Tira. A refugee in Kofr Zibad, the boy “was about to die of hunger and I had to risk life and go to my family at Tira.”

21. Ibrahim Yousef Rahhal, 18, from Kheiria[?]. A refugee, he tried to return to his hometown “as we had left money in our house. When I reached I did not find anything and found the whole village demolished.” Capture on his way back.

22. Arafa Ahmad Abu Saif, 18, ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, refugee in Gaza, caught while trying to get to Hebron for work. “If it were not for my need I would not have made this adventure.”

23. Yousif Quasim Elian, 20, refugee from Ajour (‘Ajjur), Hebron area. “I have some grain in my village Ajour which is now on the Jewish side of the line. I went there with an animal to carry the grain for my family. While standing in the middle of the village I suddenly saw the Jews surrounding me.” Imprisoned two months and tortured.

24. Mohamed Adbul Ghaffar Hussein, 21, married with children. When his family was split up in the Israeli ethnic cleansing, he became refugee in Quolia (Ramallah), and was caught trying to visit his mother in Lydda.

25. Ahmad Abdalla Maghrabi, 22, a farmer from Salme[?]. A refugee in Nablus, he owned an orange grove in Salme, which was now occupied by the Jews. He had hidden £50 on his property, and as he was now desperate, tried to slip back to retrieve his hidden Beaten and imprisoned for seven months before being sent to the desert.

26. Fayyadh Hassan Ala Dine, 30, from Ramli [Ramle?], married with children. Ethnically cleansed, but his mother and brother were still in Ramle. His desperate situation as a refugee made him slip back to visit his mother and brother “to get some money to support myself. While in the house the Jews surrounded us. They arrested me and conducted me to the police post of Ramle where they tortured and insulted me. They plucked off the nails of my toes and beat my feet with stones and beat me every day.” They question him about the Arab forces, but he knew nothing.

27. Shafiq Mikhael Hsais, 30, a carpenter from Ramle, married. Ethnically cleansed from Ramle, a refugee in Amman. But his young children and his parents were still in Ramle, so he tried to see them. Beaten, and held for 48 days before the desert crossing.

28. Ahmad Shihade Bilbish[?], 50, had hidden some money before being ethnically cleansed, slipped across to recover it. Beaten and tortured for 20 days.

29. Mushab Hussein Deoaifi [?], 58, married, stone-dresser. Refugee in Gaza, ethnically cleansed from Ramle. Due to economic desperation he tried to return to Ramle. Beaten.

30. Ahmad Ben Ahmad Hawari, married with children [age unknown]. Ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, refugee in Gaza. Desperate for work to feed his family, he tried to return to Jaffa. Beaten repeatedly.



Arab citizens of Israel, arrested in Israel

31. Musa Saleh Suleiman, 16, an Israeli Arab in his hometown of Tira, was arrested him when the Israelis heard that the boy’s father worked as a cook for the Arab Legion.

32. Tewfic Mohd Hussein, 17, was arrested on the claim that he helped the Arabs in his hometown of Tira in the 1948 war, when he was 15.



Arrested (kidnapped) while in the Jordanian area

33. Daoud Mohd Daoud, 13, seized as he was gathering grass in Nattif for the sheep.

34. Ahmad Abdul, 18, married, seized while sitting on a bridge in his village of Irtah. He was tortured, and beatings on his ears left him hard of hearing.

35. Qusim Ali Ebeid, 25, married with children. The Armistice Line cuts through his village. While “planting tomatoes in the lands of our village ... I suddenly found the Jews surrounding me.” Imprisoned for 48 days and beaten.

36. Mohammad Mustapha Ibrahim, 30, from Shoike Tulkarm, was gathering grass for food. Severely tortured.

37. Daoud Ahmad Daoud, 34, married. His town, Quatana, lay in the no-man’s land. Taken by the Israelis and interrogated about the Arab Legion.

38. Abdul Hafith Salama Ghanoun [age?], seized while harvesting in the Hebron area. Severely beaten.

39. Ibrahim Aref Rashid [age?], while pasturing his sheep near the boundary in the vicinity of Nattif, Israelis stole twelve sheep and in prison broke one of his limbs through beatings with the butt of their guns.



Arrested (kidnapped) while in the Egyptian area (Gaza) :

40. Eid Odeh Darwish, 20, plougher, from Rafah. “While ploughing near the boundary inside the Arab area ... the Jews attacked me and took me with the camel with which I was ploughing.” At Qatra camp, “they questioned me about the Egyptian forces, but I could not tell them anything as I had no information. They beat me severely and they plucked off the nails of my fingers.” Imprisoned for 60 days.

41. Yousif Yasin Mohd, 30, from Yasur (Gaza), living in Beit Anabi (Hebron). While harvesting near the border, but on the Jordanian side, “a force of Jews appeared suddenly” and took him away. He was interrogated about the strength of the Arab Legion, but “owing to the severity of the beating” he received during twenty-seven days imprisonment, he and another capture man “had to talk about things we know nothing about.”

42. Mahmoud Mohd Hodhud, 38, farmer, married with children. Ethnically cleansed from Majdal. While pasturing his cows near the border near Beit Hanoun, the Israelis seized him and his cows, “beat me and plucked off the nails of my toes.” Imprisoned for 130 days before being sent into the desert.

43. Mohammed Khamis Masri, 80, married with children, refugee in Beit Hanoun. “While pasturing two cows that belong to me on the boundary of Beit Hanoun, I suddenly saw the Jews surrounding me.” Imprisoned for 37 days before being sent into the desert.


Other :

44 & 45. Two young children, Ghazi, 11[?], and his brother, 7[?]. Ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, they were living in the refugee camp of Mughazi in Safia Quarter. Taken by the Israelis and held for 45 days before being sent into the desert. Their statements were not otherwise taken due to their age.

46. Ibrahim Khalil Taim, 19, was a student at Al-Azhar University in Cairo who was seized when returning home to Tira to get money from his family to complete his studies in Egypt. He had flown from Cairo to Amman by way of Syria, but was arrested when he tried to reach his family in Tira

47. Aref Esa Mohd, 28, had gone to Egypt about a month earlier, but on his return was captured while between Hebron and Gaza.

48. Abdul Hamid Khalid, 47, farmer from Hebron area, married; attempted to visit a friend in Gaza.

49. Haj Ali Moh’d Ibrahim, 88, married, from the Sudan, was captured while making a religious pilgrimage from Sudan to Hebron (and Jerusalem?).

50 & 51. A man [age?] and his daughter [age?], who had been arrested with his wife. His wife had been sent back to Gaza; the daughter died during the ordeal. Nothing more recorded.

1. Twelve of those ethnically cleansed ended up as refugees in Gaza, and were captured trying to reach their legal homes now under Israeli control. International law and UN Resolutions had reaffirmed their absolute right to return to their homes; it was, ironically, only Israel’s defiance of the law that made those it had ethnically cleansed ‘illegal’ in attempting to return home. Of these :
• 7 people had been ethnically cleansed from elsewhere in Palestine to Gaza. They were desperate and driven to return home out of starvation. Ahmad Ben Ahmad Hawari; Mushab Hussein Deoaifi [?]; Ali Hashin Sheafi; Mohd Said Abu Amara; Arafa Ahmad Abu Saif; Mahmoud Yousif Matouk, 19;
• 6 were also the victims of split families, trying only to rejoin their families or children who ended up on the Israeli side. Mohamed Adbul Ghaffar Hussein; Shafiq Mikhael Hsais; Fayyadh Hassan Ala Dine; Ali Ibrahim Esa; Jamil Mahd Abdul Ghani; Yahya Hassan Roubi, 17; Ihsan Quashta, 16.
— 5, also desperate, had hidden money or grain during the attacks when their village was depopulated. These had no intention of remaining, but only to retrieve their money or grain. Ahmad Abdalla Maghrabi; Abdul Salam Labam; Ibrahim Yousef Rahhal; Yousif Quasim Elian; Ahmad Shihade Bilbish[?]
• Thirteen were taken unaware that they had put themselves at risk, fully believing that they were in the Jordanian or Egyptian territories.
— in two cases, their villages actually lie on the Armistice line
— in one case, Ahmad Abdul, 18, there is independent official corroboration that he was kidnapped by Israeli soldiers while in Jordanian (West Bank) territory.
— in the remaining ten cases, the victims were harvesting or grazing their animals on their traditional lands, sure that they were not crossing the line. Daoud Mohd Daoud, 13; Mohammad Mustapha Ibrahim, 30; Abdul Hafith Salama Ghanoun; Qusim Ali Ebeid, 25; Daoud Ahmad Daoud, 34; Yousif Yasin Mohd, 30; Mahmoud Mohd Hodhud, 38; Eid Odeh Darwish, 20; Mohammed Khamis Masri, 80;
Since that line was not marked (and was disputed and confusing even to officialdom), whether they were ‘legally’ seized, or kidnapped, is unknown. In about half these cases, the interviewer deduced from description that he had been kidnapped while in Jordanian or Egyptian territory, and in about half the interviewer thought he may have unknowingly wandered past the Armistice line. It is worth noting the parallel today: Israeli unilaterally imposes a buffer zone within Gaza and shoots any Gazan who approaches a couple of hundred feet of the border even though legally on the Palestinian side of the Armistice line; and in West Bank its barrier wall lies as much as several km within Palestinian territory.
• Twelve had been ethnically cleansed from their homes, ended up refugees in Gaza, were desperate, and were captured trying to reach the Palestinian West Bank—which required crossing into ‘Israeli’ territory only because Israel had seized land on the Palestinian side of the Partition two year earlier.
• Two were legal Arab citizens of Israel. Musa Saleh Suleiman, sixteen years old, was arrested because of the rumor that his father worked as a cook for the Arab Legion. The other, Tewfic Mohd Hussein, seventeen years old, was arrested on the claim that he helped defend his hometown of Tira in the 1948 war, when he was fifteen.
• The remaining cases :
— Two young children, Ghazi and his brother (eleven and seven years?). They had been ethnically cleansed from Jaffa, were living in the refugee camp of Mughazi in Safia Quarter, were arrested by the Israelis and held for 45 days before being sent into the desert. Their statements were not otherwise taken due to their age.
— A student at Al-Azhar University in Cairo tried to return home to his family in Tira to get funds to finish his education.
— An 88 year old man from the Sudan on a religious pilgrimage to Hebron.
— A man tried to reach Gaza from the West Bank to visit a friend.
— A man was arrested when trying to return from a trip to Egypt.
— A man in Gaza (refugee?) arrested with his wife and daughter. The wife was sent back to Gaza. Their daughter is the only recorded victim among the roughly thirty-three who perished in the desert.


source: The National Archives (Kew), FO 1018/70, and others

© Thomas Suárez 2022