Loot:How Israel Stole Palestinian Property

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How the Nakba was marked not just by forced expulsions but also widespread looting of Palestinian property

During the 1948 war, looting was a general and widespread phenomenon whereby Israeli fighters and residents alike plundered Palestinian property - including homes, shops, businesses, and farms - left behind by those who were expelled or fled during the war.

This bitter truth was then silenced and forgotten by the Jewish public in Israel over the years: thousands of shops and tens of thousands of homes and buildings were pillaged by the Jewish residents of the country during and after the war.

The pillage of Palestinian property was carried out by tens of thousands who stole the belongings of those who had been their neighbours. However, this mass looting has implications that go far beyond the personality or moral fortitude of those who took part in it. The widespread looting served a political agenda that sought to empty the country of its Palestinian residents. It should be seen in its context as an aspect of the prevailing policy during the war - a policy that sought, among other things, to crush the Palestinian economy, destroy villages, and to confiscate and sometimes destroy crops and harvests remaining in displaced villages.

The participating Jewish public became a stakeholder in preventing Palestinian residents from returning to the villages and cities they left, and as such, was mobilized to support a political agenda that pushed for segregation between Jews and Arabs in the early years of statehood.


  • The dark sides of the War of Independence are illuminated in a book on the massive Jewish looting of Arab property then, showing the link between the plunder and Ben-Gurion's policy to rid the country of its Arab residents.

    Benny MorrisHaaretz
  • Historian Adam Raz has produced groundbreaking research.

    Daniel BlatmanHaaretz
  • Raz's book meticulously describes the history of the looting of Palestine. It was especially difficult for me to read about the destruction and looting of my hometown, Haifa. Raz shows the central political role that looting played in the creation of the phenomenon of Palestinian refugees, as well as how Prime Minister David Ben Gurion used looting for his own political needs. This is a fascinating book for anyone who wants to understand not only history, but also today's reality.

    Ayman Odeh, member of Knesset and leader of the Hadash party