'his' or 'its'?

I read in a book the following sentence:

"…It is a unique robbery at mid-day: robbing a whole people [speaking about Palestinians]of his lands and his rights. "

Is it OK to use ‘his’ to refer to a certain people? I think it is an example of thinking in one’s mother tongue when writing/speaking in English?

What’s your opinion?


This is a fun one. We can look at the article “a” and treat “a whole people” as singular… or we can concentrate on “people”, which is plural.

I am on the side of treating the phrase as plural and, as such, coupling it with a plural pronoun to keep things proper:

…a whole people of their land and their rights…

Of course, it was Israel and Judah thousands of years ago, but that’s a bone I don’t want to pick right now. hehe

Yes, “their” is also ok- if “people” is to be dealt with as plural- but not “his”.

I think “its” is also ok if we are to deal with “people” in the same way we deal with “group, team, family, etc”.