New Archaeological Proof Palestinians ≠ The Philistines

Earlier this year, PA President Mahmoud Abbas claimed biblical support for the palestinians being in the land before Abraham.

Mahmoud Abbas: “Our narrative says that we were in this land since before Abraham. I am not saying it. The Bible says it. The Bible says, in these words, that the Palestinians existed before Abraham. So why don’t you recognize my right?”

He was clearly basing this on mention of the Philistines in the Bible.

As Palestinian Media Watch explains:

Abbas’ statement about the Bible is false. The only Biblical reference Abbas could be talking about is the text that Abraham dwelt “many days in the land of the Philistines.” (Genesis 21: 34). However, the Philistines have no connection to today’s Palestinian Arabs. The Philistines were a people of Greek origin who settled in the land of Canaan and lived beside the Israelite tribes. The Palestinians who are Arabs could not have had ancestors in the land from biblical times predating Israelite and Judean statehood because Arabs only arrived in the land in 637 CE with the Muslim invasion. Needless to say, the “Palestinians” are not mentioned in the Bible. Significantly, Abbas says that this “fact” – which is a fabrication – is what gives Palestinians a “right” to the land.

Now there is new archaeological support for this – an excavation in southern Israel unearthing a Philistine cemetery for the first time, shedding more lights on the Philistines.

Spoiler alert: Not “palestinians.”

philistine bones


Who were the Philistines? The origins of this “sea people” — a term also used to describe their Phoenician contemporaries — remain a mystery.

Their red-and-black pottery suggests they may have come from the Mycenaean civilisation of the Aegean.

“What is certain is that they were strangers in the Semitic region,” where their presence between 1200 and around 600 BC is evident on a thin coastal strip running from present-day Gaza to Tel Aviv, said Master.

Traders and seafarers, they spoke a language of Indo-European origin, did not practice circumcision and ate pork and dog, as proven by bones and marks found on them in the ruins of the other four Philistine cities: Gaza, Gath, Ashdod and Ekron.


Master said that, despite similar-sounding names, there is no connection between the Philistines and today’s Palestinians.

“The words are similar, but not the people,” he said.

“We know here in Ashkelon that these Philistines were completely destroyed by (Babylonian king) Nebuchadnezzar in December of 604 BC,” he said.

“Everything that came after was very different and a very different group of people.”

This is by no means the first archaeological proof of the origins of the Philistines, but given Abbas’ statements mere months ago, the implications of this latest find bears mentioning.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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