Colonialism in destru(A)ction
Palestinian, Jewish and Syrian localities destroyed since the beginning of Zionism until 2017
Based on rigorous research, De-Colonizer is proud to present its new map entitled « Colonialism in destru(a)ction ». This map shows the Palestinian, Jewish, and Syrian localities destroyed since the beginning of Zionist migration (end of 19th century).
The breakdown by historical layers (destruction before 1948, during the Nakba and from 1967 to 2017), is visually demonstrated by the use of three different colors both in the legend and on the map itself. It aims to show the historical continuum of the ongoing colonial project until today and gives an indication on what might be the future if there is no substantial political international mobilization to stop Israel.
Already 750 000 Palestinians and some 130 000 Syrians have been expelled; it was time to map their loss and destruction, and to name what's going on here: settler-colonialism, in solidarity with those who have lost everything.
(Scroll down for the whole presentation and the legend of the map)
Click on the image to enlarge the map
The map is designed and formatted to be printed on a 65x100 cm sheet.
The online version is for free browsing. (Scroll down to get / order the map in hardcopy)
Editing and Research: Eitan Bronstein Aparicio
Research assistant and Design: Eléonore Merza Bronstein
Cartographer: Ali Abu Riyya (Al-M'alem)
Design assistants: Mai Omer, Maya Ober, Amir Hallel,
Florent Pervez, Ma Tête est pleine d'endroits.
Publisher: © De-Colonizer, fifth and updated edition February 2022
How to get the map?
Click here to see our different options.
Legend of the map:
A webinar on the map
Colonial destruction in Palestine before 1948
Destruction in 1948, the Nakba
Destroyed localities since 1967 war until today
Mizrahi destroyed localities by Israeli colonial regime
Mapping the destructions of the colonial project: why, by, and for whom?
The map presents all the towns and villages destroyed in Palestine/Israel since the beginning of Zionist immigration in the last quarter of the 19th century, to this day, and into the future.
Only entire communities destroyed (or about to be destroyed) are presented. Thus, the entire destruction carried out in the local context of colonial violence is not shown. Thousands of houses demolished in towns that still exist are not shown on the map.
The map shows destroyed Palestinian, Syrian, and Jewish localities.
Most – Palestinian as well as Syrian – have been violently destroyed by Israel, but we can also see Jewish localities destroyed prior to statehood and during the 1948 war in attacks by Arab countries.
The map makes no distinction between a destroyed Jewish community established by Zionist settlers and Palestinian or Syrian communities occupied and destroyed by the occupier. We do not mean to obscure the differences between perpetrators and victims, but only to show that settler-colonialists, as individuals, also pay a heavy price for the occupation to which they are partners. By way of comparison, the heavy personal price paid by the French settlers in Algeria is well known.
Zionism is clearly about doing-acting. Its relentless activities often transgress international law. The "action" in the map’s title refers to that. But this action is one of destruction. Jewish Israeli leaders and citizens have prided themselves since the early days of Zionism in building new settlements, in the pioneers who seize the land and build a settlement overnight. Conversely, efforts are made to downplay the destructive aspect of this settlement project. However, the massive uprooting of most of the country’s indigenous population in the course of the Israeli settler-colonial project cannot be concealed. The “action” in the title therefore refers also to the massive destruction itself.
What is on this map?
All the existing localities in Israel/Palestine are colored grey and serve as the map’s background. Against this background, the map shows:
817 Palestinian localities
195 Syrian localities
44 Jewish localities
The place names on the map are written as customarily spelled in English. The legend is in both English and French. We hope that this map will be used as an anti-colonialist educational tool by human rights and peace activists, educators, decision makers, social change organizations, and academics worldwide, and thereby promoting peace and equality in Israel/Palestine.
Visually, the map uses three colors to represent three major destruction waves:
In blue: destruction waves prior to 1948 and the establishment of the Stat of Israel
In red: destructions during the Nakba (1948)
In green: destructions since 1967 that also continue into the future (since Palestinian localities under threat of destruction are also mapped).
This is illustrative of the continuity of destruction from the early days of Zionism, which is bound to continue if there is not power to stop it.
The tables on the back of the map include the names of all destroyed localities and their coordinates based on different categories.
The localities in blue were destroyed prior to Israeli statehood.
* 58 Palestinian localities (click here to see them separately) have been destroyed during the early stages of colonization with an unprecedented practice.
The Zionists would buy a plot of land and demand to receive it empty. The Ottoman and subsequently British authorities, as well as the non-Palestinian landowners would expel the tenant farmers. Sometimes, they were compensated, albeit not always appropriately, and sometimes violence was used against them. The first Palestinian village, Mlabes (G-15 / today’s Petach Tikva) was destroyed early on; 1878, two decades before the First Zionist Congress that convened in Basel in 1897.
* 19 Jewish localities (click here to see them separately) and neighborhoods were also destroyed prior to 1948, in the violent outbursts of 1920, 1929 and 1936.
A few (in Ramle and Lydda for example) had been established prior to Zionism, but most were part of the Zionist settlement project. Some of the Palestinian localities had existed for centuries prior to being depopulated, whereas the Jewish localities had only existed for several years. Note that this is the only period when Palestinian violence motivated by opposition to Zionism led to the destruction of entire Jewish localities.
* 48 non-aggression initiatives
The following category represents one of the unique contributions of this map: the destruction of hope. The map depicts dozens of mutual initiatives by neighboring Jewish and Palestinian communities to resist the violence led by their respective national movements in 1947-1948. Black arrows on the map connect 46 such binational pairs. These pairs had reached agreements on various levels to prevent violence and/or warn against the arrival of armed forces that might attack the neighboring community. To the best of our knowledge, in all those cases the local armistice agreements collapsed because the Zionist leadership ignored them. This is the first representation on a printed map illustrating the findings of Dr. Ariella Azoulay’s seminal research. Azoulay has also made a documentary about those agreements. Her fascinating idea was that at the time these agreements were signed, there was a potential for an alternative history, while all our current historical analyses are retrospective. The concept of potential history reminds us that there are always different alternatives, rather than a single, clear teleological direction as we are usually taught by our political leadership – again, in retrospect.
Destructions during the Nakba (1948)
The localities marked in red are those destroyed in 1948 - the peak of destruction. Note that in fact, Israel went on to destroy Palestinian towns and villages in the Nakba until 1952, but it is customary to subsume those years under 1948. Accordingly, it is accurate to state that 1948 is the Year Zero of the creation of two separate peoples in the country: the defeated, disinherited and refugee Palestinians and the Jewish Israelis who had become masters of the land and have since been maintaining and expanding the destruction project.
* 614 Palestinian localities (click here to see them separately) were destroyed during the Nakba in order to establish the Jewish State.
On the map, these are marked according to their size:
161 up to 100 inhabitants (click here to see them separately)
418 from 100 to 3000 inhabitants (click here to see them separately)
35 more than 3000 inhabitants (click here to see them separately)
Some of those 615 localities, like Jaffa and Haifa, have not been completely destroyed physically, but certainly socio-culturally. They have been destroyed not only as a byproduct of hostilities, but mostly as a result of organized military campaigns against unarmed local civilians. The Palestinians hardly fought. The 1948 war was mostly between the various Arab armies and the various Zionist forces. The Palestinians had few armed militias, and despite causing some casualties, they had not managed to occupy a single Jewish locality.
* 26 Jewish localities (click here to see them separately) were destroyed in this war, all, as mentioned, by Arab armies rather than Palestinian forces. Some of them were rebuilt shortly after being occupied and destroyed.
Here you can see a map that shows the UN Partition Plan from November 29,1947 and the 614 Palestinian localities Israel destroyed during the Nakba. From this map we learn that 220 Palestinian localities, more than third destroyed during the Nakba, are in the territory of the planned Arab state. Moreover, 20 out of the 220 were displaced before the end of the British Mandate. The most important of them is Jaffa. This shows that Israel didn't really respected the UN plan, in contrary to its official narrative.
On the map we see also the 26 Jewish localities destroyed by Arab armies of which 9 of them in the planned Jewish State and 15 were in the Arab State (and 2 within the international area).
Destructions from 1967 to 2017 (and into the future...)
In 1952-1967, there was no destruction of entire localities. The localities destroyed since 1967 are shown in green.
* 195 Syrian localities (click here to see them separately)
194 Syrian villages and towns were destroyed in the Golan Height in the aftermath of its occupation in 1967, and 130,000 inhabitants were expelled. The mapping of the destroyed localities in the Golan is particularly important because its occupation is increasingly consigned to oblivion in Israeli society, as in the case of the Nakba until a decade ago.
Since the 1967 war, Israel has destroyed 11 Palestinian localities. The best known were destroyed during the war itself. These are the three villages in the Latrun area across the 1949 Israeli-Jordanian border: ‘Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba. Since then, however, Israel completely destroyed several more localities, in addition to thousands of houses demolished in existing ones.
In recent years, Israel has continued its intensive destruction activities in the Jordan Valley and south of Hebron. This destruction is accompanied, and sometimes initiated by violent harassment by Jewish settlers who do not enable their Palestinians neighbors to lead a normal life. Based on a study by B’Tselem the map shows 70 Palestinian localities threatened by total destruction. Upon their future erasure, these will represent the “natural” continuation of the Israeli destruction project. For years, they have been suffering from massive house demolitions, and their chances of survival are minimal. Without significant international intervention, it appears that in the future, when we update the map, these too will be included under the category of localities completely destroyed since 1967.
* 64 Palestinian localities unrecognized by Israel (click here to see them separately)
We have also decided to include the communities unrecognized by Israel: 64 Bedouin Palestinian villages in the Negev desert in the south, as well as in the north of the country. They have not been destroyed but some are threatened by complete destruction. The fact that Israel persists in its refusal to recognize them leaves them without infrastructures and utilities, so that they are experiencing a kind of protracted destruction.
By the time the map was printed in October 2016, the Bedouin village of Al-‘Araqib had been destroyed over one hundred times. It is marked on the map as a locality destroyed in 1948, as an unrecognized village, and as a community in danger of future destruction, in that it is the perfect embodiment of the ongoing Israeli destruction project. Perhaps the villagers’ insistence to cling to their homes is the thin silver lining that graces these ruins.
Eitan Bronstein Aparicio and Eléonore Merza Bronstein,
Language editing and translation in English: Ami Asher
De-Colonizer would like to thank all the volunteers and friends who helped us and who made the development of this map possible:
Ali Abu Raya, who suggested and made tens of drafts before this final version;
Mai Omer, Maya Ober, Amir Hallel et Florent Pervez, designers who worked voluntarily and helped us in many ways;
Arielle Azoulay who accepted, with enthusiasm, that we would use and map her original research concerning the non-aggression initiatives between Palestinian and Jewish localities;
Yuval Drier Shilo from B'Tselem NGO , Eyal Weizman, for their help in the research;
Hillel Cohen, Andy Ezeqiel and Dan Golan for the informations and materials they provided us;
Salman Fakher Eldin and Nazeh Brik from al-Marsad organization in Majdal Shams, for their knowledge on the localities in the Syrian occupied Golan;
Thaís Queiroz Carvalho, who collected and checked much information during her internship at De-Colonizer;
Adeline Rosenstein, Leila Di Grigorrio, Yvonne Harder and the whole team of La Balsamine theater (Bruxelles, Belgium), as well as Vibeke Harper and Marius Kolbenstvedt from MOTforestillinger festival (Oslo, Norvway) who invited De-Colonizer to present the preliminary researches that led to this map;
Natasha Rowland et Gilad Halpern, De-Colonizer's board.
This map was made possible with the support of:
CCFD - Terre Solidaire
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Foundation (EMHRF)
Abu Sitta, Salman (2007), The Return Journey: A Guide to the Depopulated and Present Palestinian Towns and Villages and Holy Sites.
Azoulay, Ariella (2012), Civil Alliance.
Ben Arie, Yehoshu'a, Yerushalaim bame'a ha-19.
Khalidi, Walid (dir. 2006) All that remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948.
Kipnis, Yigal (2009), The Mountain that Was a Monster: The Golan Between Syria and Israel.
L, Arie, HaHityashvut HaYehudit VeTa'anat HaNishul.
Merza, Eléonore (2012) Ni Juifs ni Arabes en Israël : dialectiques d’identification et négociations identitaires d’une minorité dans un espace en guerre, online PhD: https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-00769910/
Morris, Benny, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugees Problem
Israeli Mapping Center, Tel Aviv
Haganah archives, Tel Aviv