When the first Zionists arrived to Israel in the 19th century, they found denuded, devastated, sterile country with malaria festering coastal marshes and bare interior. The land supported a few Syrian and Egyptian fellahs working the land belonging to absentee landlords, and a few Bedouins. There is no contemporary eyewitness accounts that describe the place otherwise. Moreover, the Zionists also found town such as Jeruslem and Hebron with sizable Jewish majorities. most of the Arabs arrived to "Palestine" seeking employment and better life alongside thriving Jewish settlements.
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from the article: Palestinian archeology gets int'l boost ahead of 2011 statehood plan