Monday, January 19, 2009

And so it goes

From the 1951 archives of The Times (of London--before Murdoch).

Homeless in Gaza
From a correspondent lately in Gaza: To most people the name of Gaza brings a picture of blind Samson pulling down the pillars of the house upon the Philistines and himself.

Today, the reputed tomb of Samson is inhabited by a family of Arab refugees. They form part of the horde of some 200,000 people from Palestine who poured into the "Gaza Strip" in 1948, during the troubles between the Arabs and Jews which broke out after the partition plan was announced.

In December 1948, the United Nations Assembly resolved that "the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so." The Arab League took its stand on this and insisted on the refugees' repatriation as a condition of peace negotiations. It has since taken a more realistic view and, while still maintaining the principle of repatriation, has agreed that efforts shall be made to resettle the refugees in the lands where they now are.

The only exit from the Gaza Strip, which is hemmed in by Israel, is to Egypt, and there the refugees are not welcome. They are virtually imprisoned in the area, their only means of escape being a dangerous moonlight flit through Jewish territory.

Explosive forces
Colonel Howard Kennedy concluded his report to the United Nations Political Committee on November I with the words: As director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, I feel it my duty to bring these matters to the attention of the United Nations, because explosive forces are being generated which should be dealt with before the point of detonation is reached . Grave difficulties and dangers elsewhere should not blind us to this great human tragedy of the Middle [East]."if the refugees be left forgotten and desolate in their misery, peace will recede yet farther from these distracted lands". - The Times [March 2, 1951], Times Archive