Mapping Palestine before Israel

A new open-source project uses British historical maps to reveal what Palestine looked like before 1948, reports Mimi Kirk in City Lab

The Palestinians recently protesting in the Gaza Strip called their demonstration “The Great Return March”—that’s a reference to a desire to return to the land from which they were expelled in 1948. Of the 1.9 million Palestinians living in Gaza, 70 percent came from villages in the surrounding area and beyond, in what is now Israel, 70 years ago this month.

During the founding of the state, the Israeli military destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages; some were completely abandoned, while others became the foundation for Jewish villages and towns. Some villages survived. A new open-source mapping project, Palestine Open Maps, allows users to see the Palestinian landscape as it looked before 1948—and to search for villages and towns from that era to find out whether they remain, were depopulated, or were built over.

Read the full report here.

Photo: A detail from a 1942 British Mandate map of Haifa, now a city in Israel. Courtesy of Palestine Open Maps/City Lab

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