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The Ma'abarot () were refugee camps in Israel in the 1950s. The Ma'abarot were meant to provide accommodation for the large influx of Jewish refugees and new Olim (Jewish immigrants) arriving to the newly independent State of Israel.

Term origin

The Hebrew word Ma'abara (singular) derives from the word ma'avar (, transit). Ma'abarot (plural) were meant to be temporary communities for the new arrivals. Immigrants housed in these communities were Jewish refugees mainly from Middle East and North Africa, as well as Holocaust survivors from Europe.


Ma'abarot were created out of previous "Immigration Camps". The sudden arrival of over 130,000 Iraqi Jews in Israel in the early 1950s meant that almost a third of Ma'abarah dwellers were of Iraqi Jewish origin. At the end of 1949 there had been 90,000 Jews housed in Ma'abarot; by the end of 1951 this population rose to over 220,000 people, in about 125 separate communities. Ma'abarot residents were housed in tents or in temporary tin dwellings. Over 80% of the residents were Jewish refugees from across Arab and Muslim countries in Middle East and North Africa.

Conditions in the Ma'abarot were very harsh, with many people sharing sanitation facilities. In one community it was reported that there were 350 people to each shower and in another 56 to each toilet.

Dissolution of the...
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