Last updated on: 5/14/2008 3:49:00 PM PST

How Many Palestinians Became Refugees as a Result of the 1948 War, and Where Did They Go?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Baruch Kimmerling, PhD, Professor of Sociology at Hebrew University, and Joel S. Migdal, PhD, Professor of International Studies at the University of Washington, in their 2003 book The Palestinian People: A History, wrote:

"No one can say precisely how many of the 1.3 million Palestinians became refugees, the reckoning -- like so much else in Palestine's legacy -- becoming a constituent part of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Arab estimates varied between 750,000 and 1,000,000. The Israelis proposed 520,000, and the British between 600,000 and 760,000...

The 20 percent of Palestinian Arabs who left Palestine went to Lebanon (over 100,000) and Syria (75,000-90,000), as well as to Iraq (4,000) and Egypt (7,000-10,000). In time, the steady emigration whould result in exiled Palestinians outnumbering their brethren, with formidable communities emerging in Kuwait (nearly 400,000 until the 1991 Gulf War), Saudi Arabia (150,000), other Gulf states (65,000), and the United States (100,000)."

2003 - Joel S. Migdal, PhD 
Baruch Kimmerling, PhD 

Ian J. Bickerton, PhD, Professor of Middle Eastern History at the University of New South Wales, and Carla L. Klausner, PhD, Professor of the Modern Middle East at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in their 2002 book A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, wrote:

"At the end of hostilities early in 1949, the United Nations estimated that there were 726,000 Arab refugees from Israeli-controlled territories, about 70 percent of the Arab population of Palestine. The exact number is difficult to determine because it is impossible to know the true number of Arab illegals living in Palestine when the war broke out and the number of Bedouin who had become refugees. A figure of about 600,000 to 760,000 is probably more accurate...

Exact figures are not possible, but according to Benny Morris, in his study of the Palestinian refugees, the British estimated in February 1949 that about 320,000 Palestinians moved into, or already resided in, the eastern portion of Palestine, which was controlled by the Arab Legion, and into Transjordan. Approximately 210,000 were in camps in the Gaza region, 100,000 went into Lebanon, and 75,000 to Syria. A few went to Egypt and others to Iraq. Some 150,000 remained within the Jewish state."

2002 - Carla L. Klausner, PhD 
Ian J. Bickerton, PhD 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provided the following statistics of registered Palestinian refugees on its website, as of Mar. 31, 2006:

  • Jordan: 10 official refugee camps; 1,835,704 registered refugees
  • Lebanon: 12 official refugee camps; 405,425 registered refugees
  • Syria: 9 official refugee camps; 434,896 registered refugees
  • West Bank: 19 official refugee camps; 705,207 registered refugees
  • Gaza: 8 official refugee camps; 993,818 registered refugees
  • Total number of registered refugees: 4,375,050 (2,676,025 outside of the Gaza Strip, and Westbank)

  • Mar. 31, 2006 - United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)