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Mercy Trains And Ration Rolls: Between Government And Humanitarianism In Gaza (1948–67)

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Chapter Summary

In the Palestinian experience the humanitarian emergency is no longer emergent. That is, while humanitarianism is self-defined as an exceptional mode of intervention, it has been the normal order of things for Palestinians. Taking the case of Gaza in the aftermath of the 1948 nakba as an example, this chapter explores this often slippery zone between humanitarianism and government. Since 1948 Gaza has been a space 'shared' by government-the Egyptian Administration until 1967-and humanitarian organizations-the American Friends Service Committee from 1948-1950 and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)thereafter. While humanitarian government was a feature of Egyptian rule from the outset, it is perhaps best epitomized by the "mercy trains" organized by General Naguib after the July Revolution that ousted King Farouk from the Egyptian government. That these trains were intended to have a public relations effect seems clear from the press coverage they received in both Egypt and Gaza.

Keywords:Egypt; government; humanitarianism; mercy train; Naguib; Palestinian; UNRWA



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