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Keywords:

  • refugees;
  • citizenship;
  • humanitarianism;
  • law;
  • Palestine

In this article, I explore the intersection of humanitarian practice and refugee law in shaping categories of “refugee” and “citizen” in Gaza in the first years after 1948. I examine how humanitarian practice produced enduring distinctions within the Gazan population and provided a space in which ideas about Palestinian citizenship began to take shape. A key argument is that humanitarianism, despite commitments to political neutrality, often has profound and enduring political effects. In this case, humanitarian distinctions contributed to making the “refugee” a central figure in the Palestinian political landscape. I also consider how humanitarianism in Palestine was guided by the larger, emerging postwar refugee regime, even as Palestinians were formally excluded from some of its mechanisms.