Israel Gaza War: The ‘Gaza’ city seen today after enduring centuries of injustice.

“One of the oldest cities in history. Whether it has seen a century or an era, many generations have witnessed this city. It is said to have existed since history is known.”

This is an excerpt from a book by Arif al-Arif, a Palestinian historian of Jerusalem, published in 1943. Reference to this city is found in this book.

He has put into words what he found in Arabic, English, French and Turkish literature about this city.

In American Rabbi Martin Mayer’s book about Gaza, published in 1907, American Orientalist Richard Gotthill wrote that “it is a wonderful city for those interested in history.” Explaining the city’s strategic importance, Gotthill wrote, “Gaza was a meeting and resting place for caravans carrying goods from South Arabia and the Far East to the Mediterranean Sea. From this city goods were transported to Syria, Asia Minor (Turkey) and Europe. It was a transport hub and a link between Palestine and Egypt.”


Three names of the city of Gaza

The 13th century writer and traveler Yakut al-Hamawi’s encyclopedia Kitab Mujam al-Buldan (Dictionary of Countries) mentions three cities called Gaza. The first name was Jazeera Al-Arab. The famous Arabic poet al-Akhtal al-Taghlibi also wrote a poem about this city.

Al-Hamawi has given another name as ‘Ifriqiya’. It is the old name of Tunisia. Al-Hamawi says that it takes three days to travel from this city to Cairo.

Describing Gaza, al-Hamawi writes, “Gaza is a city located in the farthest part of the Levant toward Egypt. It is located west of Ashkelon in Palestine.”

This city has been called Gaza since ancient times in the Arab world. During Islamic times, the city was referred to as ‘Hashem’s Gaza’ in reference to Hashem bin Abd Manaf, the grandfather of the Prophet Mohammad. He died in this city. The famous Islamic scholar and writer Imam al-Shafi’i was born here. In Hebrew it is called ‘Aza’ because in Hebrew it is written as ‘Ain’ (A) or ‘Hamza’ instead of the Arabic letter ‘Gain’ (C). Al-Arif wrote in his book ‘The History of Gaza’, “Some communities called it ‘Hajati’. The ancient Egyptians called it ‘Gazatu’ or ‘Gadatu’.” It is also mentioned in Greek dictionaries that different names were given to Gaza in each period. These names included ‘Aini’, ‘Minoa’ and ‘Constantia’. The Christian theologian Eusebius, who was born in Caesarea in present-day Israel in the 4th century, said that Gaza means pride and power. The famous Scottish lexicographer Sir William Smith also mentioned Gaza in his ‘Dictionary of the Old Testament’ published in 1863. Sophronius, author of the ‘Dictionary of the New Testament’ published in 1910, said that ‘Gaza’ is a Persian word, meaning royal treasury. But many people think that the origin of this word is from Greek language. In Greek it means wealth or treasure. In short, the meaning of Gaza in Persian and Greek is similar. It is said that the King of Iran hid his wealth in Gaza. After that this king returned to Iran. This incident is said to have happened in Roman times. Yakut al-Hamawi mentions that ‘Gaza’ was the name of the wife of a man named Tyr. The Phoenician city of Tire was founded under this name. The city is currently in Lebanon.

Who created Gaza?


English archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie is considered an expert on the archeology of Egypt and its surroundings. They say, ancient Gaza was founded on a hill called ‘Hill al-Ajwal’ three thousand years before the birth of Christ. According to him, the residents had left the town due to an attack. People displaced from the city by the attack settled three miles away and built the new city of Gaza. Present day Gaza exists in this place. This attack is believed to have taken place during the reign of the Hyksos dynasty in Egypt. The Hyksos dynasty ruled Egypt for 108 years from 1638-1530 BC. It is believed that this dynasty must have been in control of Gaza during this period.


Ancient Gaza

But there are some people who deny these stories. According to him, Gaza is still in the same ancient place where it was first created. According to this theory, ‘Tal al-Ajol’ was the trading port of Gaza. According to some, Alexander the Great destroyed ancient Gaza. After that the new city of Gaza was built in another place. Sir Petrie is also of the same opinion. Al-Arif writes in his book that the city of Gaza was founded by the Menites tribe. The Menites were the earliest inhabitants of the Arab world. These people built a culture around 1000 BC. According to Al-Arif, these people are instrumental in developing Gaza City as a center. Gaza became important for the Arabs as it was an important trade link between Egypt and India. This city was the best trade route for them compared to the Red Sea.


Arab World and India:

Trade in this region began in Yemen, south of the Arabian Peninsula. Trade between the Arab world and India once flourished there. After Yemen this trade route went north to Mecca, Medina and Petra and split into two branches. Another branch reached Gaza on the Mediterranean Sea by a desert route from Taim, Damascus and Palmyra. Some historians conclude that the Arab rulers of Mayan and Sheba founded the city of Gaza. According to al-Arif, the Avith and the Anakite were the first two peoples who settled in Gaza. They are also called the ancient Palestinians and are mentioned in the books of the Old Testament. It is believed that the Dianites and Edomites, descendants of Prophet Ibrahim, who belonged to the Bedouin tribe of southern Jordan, also settled in Gaza.

People of the Canaanite culture

The book ‘The History of Gaza’ mentions that according to the Book of Genesis (the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament), Gaza is one of the oldest cities in the world. According to the Book of Genesis, the city was founded by people from the Canaanite culture, descendants of Noah’s son Ham. Another mention says that the Canaanites conquered it from the Amorites. According to Ibn Khaldun, a historian born in Tunisia in the 14th century, the Canaanites were Arabs who traced their descent to the Amalekite tribe. But some believe that the Canaanites actually came from the Persian Gulf. Historians estimate that they lived in the area 5,000 years ago. According to British archaeologist Sir Petrie, the remains found in a large part of the city wall were built during the Canaanite period. Large stones of this size have not been found again by diggers there since the Canaanites.

Invention of the Alphabet

The ruins of a Canaanite city under the control of the Hyksos dynasty of Egypt still exist today south of the city of Tel al-Azul in the Gaza Strip. Tombs have been found there. Some of these are said to date back to the Bronze Age of 4000 BC. Al-Arif says that the Canaanites used to cultivate olives in the Gaza area. The tribe used to do most of the work from earthworks to mining. The Canaanite culture is believed to have invented the alphabet. It is said that the Jews adopted many of the laws and principles of this people. Historically, Gaza has been ruled by the Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek, Iranian and Roman empires. Palestinian historian Arif al-Arif described Gaza’s history as “glorious”. Explaining the reason, he says, “Gaza has faced all kinds of disasters and dangerous situations in its lifetime. Those who attacked either lost themselves or left here. So this example is no exception.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *