Scholars have spilled much ink trying to understand the relationship that existed between the Canaanites and the Israelites before the establishment of the monarchy. Can the two groups—the Canaanites and Israelites—actually be distinguished in the archaeological record of Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C., the Biblical period of the Judges)?
I should say at the outset that this is a different question than where the Israelites came from—whether they came from outside the land or from inside or both. Wherever they came from, it is clear that in the period prior to the establishment of the United Monarchy in about 1000 B.C., there were people in the land of Canaan who called themselves Israelites. (Otherwise there would have been no Israelites to form the United Monarchy.)