While it is common knowledge that a majority of the population of the Gaza Strip are refugees, it is less well understood where they came from. The shocking reality is that many of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are a few miles away from the land of their ethnically cleansed former villages, across the border fence in southern Israel. Like so much else with Palestine, you can’t understand Gaza if you don’t understand the Nakba.
To give a few examples. In 1948, most of the Palestinians of al-Majdal had fled in fear by the time the Israeli army took the town. In November of that year, around 500 were expelled to Gaza. But during 1949, a good number of Palestinians managed to return. Those remaining Palestinians were “concentrated and sealed off with barbed wire and IDF guards in a small, built-up area commonly known as the ‘ghetto‘”.
The ethnic cleansing of al-Majdal was completed between June and October 1950. And if you haven’t heard of al-Majdal before, I’m sure you know the Israeli port city built in its place: Ashkelon.
Or take the village of Najd, whose inhabitants cultivated citrus, bananas, cereals and orchards. They were expelled by Israeli forces in May 1948 and you can find Palestinians from Najd in Jabaliya refugee camp. The Israeli city of Sderot was founded on its land.