What does ‘from the river to the sea’ mean?

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It is not clear when the slogan appeared, but scholars say it began to gain traction in the 1960s among Palestinian activists and intellectuals who were made refugees by the 1948 war.

During that conflict, approximately 700,000 Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their homes by Israeli forces, after which the state of Israel was established. Many of them settled in the West Bank, which was later annexed by Jordan, and in Gaza, which was administered by Egypt. (Israel captured both territories in the 1967 war with neighboring Arab states).

Palestinian refugees began to develop the idea of ​​a “free Palestine” – a “secret, democratic, free” state, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, said Maha Nassar, associate professor of history at the Middle East and Islamic Studies at University. Arizona.

Later, the phrase was picked up by supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO, the coalition founded in 1964 that is still the official representative of the Palestinian people at the United Nations. In the cycles of conflict and revolution in the decades that followed, he became popular among various Palestinian groups.

Recently, supporters of Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, have adopted the slogan. The organization’s charter, in which the phrase does not appear, calls for a movement that “strikes deep into the earth and spreads to hug the skies.”

“We belong to Palestine from the river to the sea and from the south to the north,” said Khaled Mashaal, the group’s former leader, in a speech in Gaza in 2012 marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of Hamas. established, said the Associated Press.

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