Point-blank: A historic stance

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 12 Mar 2024

Some people might not be aware that Egypt has long opposed all attempts to forcefully displace the Palestinians to the Sinai and bury the Palestinian cause


This has been the Egyptian stance for 75 years since the establishment of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba. The mass expulsion of the indigenous people of Palestine is integral to the Zionist project. Towards this end, Zionist settlers formed such paramilitary groups as the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Lehi – aka, the Stern Gang – which waged brutal terrorist attacks to drive Palestinians from their homes and villages. Irgun leader Menachem Begin and Stern Gang leader Yitzhak Shamir, both Polish immigrants, went on to become Israeli prime ministers, which exemplifies how deeply terrorist violence runs the Zionist creed since its inception.

Zionist propaganda is famously founded on the fiction that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without a land.” Zionist practice was to turn that fiction into fact through systematic ethnic cleansing. That was the plan in 1948 and it remains the plan today. It involves massacring Palestinian civilians, destroying their homes and villages, and driving them towards the border with Egypt.

Then, as today, Egypt opposed that design. It closed the border, forcing Ben-Gurion to create a sector to accommodate the survivors of the mass displacement. It stretches southwards from Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun in the north to Jabalia and the ancient city of Gaza, and from there to Deir Al-Balah, Khan Younis, and lastly Rafah on the Egyptian border. The area took its name from the old city. Today, 70 per cent of Gaza’s population are refugees from historic Palestine. The eminent Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, relates the story of a document from the Israeli military archives known as Order No. 40, dated 25 November 1948. Addressed by the General Command to the commander of forces in the vicinity of Gaza, it listed 11 Palestinian villages in that area, and instructed the commander to drive out the inhabitants, burn their villages and demolish their homes to prevent their return, and load them onto vehicles and expel them to Gaza, which was transformed into the largest Palestinian refugee camp.

Had it not been for Egypt’s staunch position, that camp would now be in the Sinai and the portion of occupied Palestinian territory known as Gaza would be part of Israel.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 14 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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