Map your way to Palestinian villages that Israel occupied in 1948

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Map your way to Palestinian villages that Israel occupied in 1948

When Israel was founded 70 years ago, its military destroyed more than 500 Palestinian villages. Some were abandoned, others turned into Jewish villages and towns. Yet some survived.

If you want to know what happened to these villages, an open-source mapping project, Palestine Open Maps, offers you Palestinian landscape as it looked before 1948. The project allows users to search for villages and towns from that time to find out what happened to them – whether they remain, were depopulated, or were built over, reported City Labs. This is the first open-source mapping project based around historical maps from the British Mandate period. The maps show roads, topographic features and property boundaries in exceptional detail.

Of the 1.9 million Palestinians currently living in Gaza, 70% came from villages in the surrounding area and beyond, in what is now Israel. This happened 70 years ago. At a recent protest, the Palestinians termed their demonstration, The Great Return March, which is a reference to a desire to return to the land from which they were expelled in 1948.

Ahmad Barclay, a Beirut-based architect and designer who led the project, said the team knitted together more than 200 map sheets and made them navigable in high resolution. The team now aims at making the maps downloadable.

“Nakba”, a term Palestinians use to refer to the “catastrophe” of 1948, has been a matter of debate. For Barclay, an aim of the mapping project is to clarify at least one part of this debate: the land itself, and what was once there. He sees a potential future use for the project: backing the property claims of Palestinians, should they be able to return to the land from where their parents and grandparents came. APP