The UN Relief Agency estimated 726,000 Palestinian refugees left Israel by the end of the war in 1949. Unsurprisingly, the causes are hotly contested; however, it is clear that there was a significant voluntary component, reflecting a reasonable desire to escape imminent, then actual, war. It is equally clear that there were planned, forcible expulsions, such as the evacuation of Arabs from Lydda and Ramla in July 1948. Similar expulsions took place around Haifa, Beersheba and Galilee. It could certainly be argued that the Jewish state faced urgent existential threat under invasion from multiple Arab armies. However, the frequent and systematic destruction of Arab homes (96 per cent of Arab dwellings in Jaffa, for instance) argues that these actions were not simply military precautions. A significant proportion of the refugees remained in the West Bank and Gaza: the Arab host nations of Palestinian refugees have, collectively, continued to deny them legal status.
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