Mahmoud Darwish in the presence of absence (photo by GZ) Hisham's Palace, Jericho (photo by GZ) Corridor from Erez crossing into Gaza (Photo by CdV) Anti-wall demonstration in Bi'lin. (Photo by LS) Old city of Hebron (photo by GZ) Bypass road north-south - Jerusalem (photo by GZ) Cremisan Road, Beit Jala (photo by GZ) Wall grafitti made by Berlin residents. (Photo by CdV) Drone flying over KhanYounis, Gaza. (Photo by CdV) Gilo settlement - Beit Jala (photo by GZ) Mahmoud Darwish on Yasser Arafat- Ramallah (photo by GZ)

1940-1949 The ethnic cleansing of Palestine

The larger part of this time line is an adaptation of the historic overview in ‘Before their Diaspora, a photographic history of the Palestinians 1876-1948’ by Walid Khalidi.



German forces occupy large parts of Europe and systematically murder approximately 6 million jews. The arrival of over 60,000 Zionist immigrants, including 20 - 25,000 who entered the country illegally, increases Jewish population in Palestine to 31% of total.  Registered Jewish land ownership rises to 6% of area of country.

Up until the end of the British mandate, Jewish paramilitary organizations carry out a wave of attacks targeting infrastructure as well as British political figures, civil servants and soldiers.



Land Transfers Regulations, provided for in the White Papers of 1939 are published. They contain regulations to protect Palestinian lands against Zionist acquisitions. The British forbid the entry of illegal Jewish immigrants for security reasons.



Zionist Biltmore Conference held in New York and attended by leading Zionists from US and Palestine, urges that ‘Palestine be established as a Jewish commonwealth’ in the whole of Palestine and the organization of a Jewish army. The US Congress introduces joint resolution endorsing Biltmore program.



The Stern Gang and Irgun join forces in a terror campaign against the British. The British Labor Party passes a resolution recommending that Palestinians be ‘encouraged’ to move out of Palestine to make way for Jewish immigrants. The Preparatory Conference on Arab Unity held in Alexandria, Egypt, and attended by Palestinian representatives, proposes the formation of an Arab state in Palestine in which the non-Arab community will have full citizenship rights.



On visit to US, Ben-Gurion meets with 19 prominent American Zionists, who pledge to finance purchase in US of military industrial machinery for use of Haganah. The US House of representative states that the US shall facilitate unrestricted Jewish immigration into Palestine and in order to reconstitute the country as Jewish commonwealth. A Covenant of the League of Arab States, emphasizing Arab character of Palestine, is signed in Cairo by representatives of Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan and Yemen.



An Anglo-American Committee report estimates size of Jewish armed forces at around 61 to 69,000 people and declares "private armies" illegal.  It recommends the admission of 100,000 Jews into Palestine and abolition of Land Transfers Regulations.   Palestinians strike in protest. US president Truman backs a request by the Jewish Agency asks for a Jewish state comprising the area recommended by the Royal (Peel) Commission in 1937, plus the whole of the Negev.



The UN General Assembly appoints an eleven-member Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). In their report, the majority of UNSCOP members recommend partition and the minority recommends a federal solution.

With resolution 181, a modification to the UNSCOP proposal, Palestine was to be divided into A Jewish state on 56 % of Palestine, an Arab State on 43%, and an international zone surrounding Jerusalem. The Arab Higher Committee for Palestine also rejects partition, as Palestinians make up for 70% of the total population and own 93% of the land. The Jewish Agency announces acceptance of partition.

Haganah occupies strategic positions in country .The Arab League organizes Arab Liberation Army (ALA), a voluntary force of Arab irregulars under guerrilla leader Fawzi al-Qawuqji to help Palestinians resist partition.



Hagana desgins and carries out plan Dalet, a set of guidelines that envisaged the ethnic cleansing of Palestine i.e. to conquer as much of Palestine and to expel a maximum of Palestinian civilians. The ALA responds with bombs and attacks on Zionist commandos.

On April 9th Irgun and Stern Gang massacre some 245 inhabitants at Deir Yassin village, mainly elderly, women and children. Consequently hundreds of thousands Palestinians flee their towns and villages.

On May 14th the state of Israel is unilaterally proclaimed, one day before the end of the British mandate and immediately recognized by the US.  On May 15th, the first Egyptian regular troops cross the border into Palestine and attack colonies in the Negev. Three Transjordanian Arab Legion brigades cross the Jordan River into Palestine Lebanese regulars retake Lebanese villages on the border from Haganah. Syrian troops retake the town of Samakh and capture Zionist colonies of Masada and Shaar Hagolan.

Hagana conquest of Palestinian cities, towns and villages continues. The UN Security Council appoints the Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte as its mediator in Palestine and calls for cease-fire, that takes effect on June 11, lasting until july 8th.

Bernadotte suggests economic, military and political union of Transjordan and Palestine containing Arab and Jewish states: Negev and central Palestine to go to Arabs, Western Galilee to Jews, Jerusalem to be part of Arab state with administrative autonomy to Jews, Haifa and Jaffa to be free ports and Lydda  to be a free airport. His proposal is rejected by both sides.

Security Council calls for prolongation of truce, which takes effect from July 18th till October 15th. Bernadotte proposes a new partition of Palestine: Arab state to be annexed to Transjordan and to include Negev, al-Ramla and Lydda; Jewish state in all of Galilee; the internationalization of Jerusalemand the return or compensation of refugees. The proposal is rejected by both the Arab League and Israel. In September the Stern gang murders Count Bernadotte in Jerusalem by the Stern Gang.



January-February: Israeli-Egyptian armistice is signed:  Egypt keeps coastal strip Gaza-Rafah and evacuates Faluja pocket.  By the end of February, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), made up of the core part of Haganah, intimidates 2-3,000 villagers into leaving Faluja pocket in violation of Israeli-Egyptian Armistice Agreement.

March:  IDF Negev and Golani brigades complete occupation of Negev as far as Umm Rashrash/Eilat.

March 23: The Israeli-Lebanese Armistice is signed: Frontier of Mandate Palestine accepted; Israel withdraws from most of Lebanese territory.

April 3: Israeli-Jordanian Armistice: Jordan takes over the Iraqi-held Nablus-Jenin-Tulkarem triangle but is forced to cede area around Wadi 'Ara; Israel controls Chadera-Afula road; the existing status quo in Jerusalem is accepted by IDF and Arab Legion.

July 20: Syrian-Israeli Armistice: demilitarized zones established around 'En Gev and Dardara (including Mishmar ha-Yarden).

The Armistice leaves Israel in control of 78% of the former mandate Palestine more than was envisaged in partition plan. The armistice line is internationally considered as the borders of Israel. The Gaza Strip (1,5 % of mandate Palestine) is placed under Egyptian, and the West Bank (21,5 %) under Jordanian control.

750.000 Palestinians, 64 % of the entire population, have been made homeless. Out of 476 villages and towns, 418 have been depopulated. Zionist militia completely destroyed 385.