Saturday, 20 June 2009

The Tale of 3 Palestinian Villages

Every year since June 1967, Israelis celebrate the Jerusalem Day. To Palestinians, it is a day to commemorate, to unite, and continue the fight for a free Palestine and a free Jerusalem. To Palestinians, Al Quds is not only the holy sites, the ancient houses and the beautifully old streets and alleys, it's the land and the people. The Zionists are not ashamed of celebrating a “state” that is built on the bodies of Palestinians and on the ruins of their homes and villages. Speeches and articles on such occasions often talk of how proud they are of their army, those “courageous men” fighting for their state: a state that is watered with the blood of its innocent victims, not the blood of its “courageous” men, for there is no courage in fighting an unarmed civilian population, in killing little children and walking on the bodies of raped women and bullet-riddled elderly to reach a state. They are only courageous as long as they are heavily armed, take away from them their machine guns, tanks and apaches and not one soldier of this “courageous army” would dare stand against a small unarmed Palestinian child. In the internet there’s a countless number of videos and photos that show just how “courageous” they soldiers are: heavily armed they shoot at little school children, beat women and elderly, and take photos near the bodies of slain Palestinians as souvenirs of their “trophies”. But when their weapons are taken away from them, they start crying and are faster than the wind. Yes, the Zionists, with their ideology and history, have a number of things to “celebrate” and be “proud of”: a listing of all the “courageous” acts of the Zionists and their army and their “state”, towards Palestinians and other nations, would be too long, thus a few keywords: Ethnic cleansing, massacres, theft (land theft, theft of property, cultural theft, etc…). As with the Nakba of 1948, during the Nakba of 1967 the Israeli army, the “courageous and most moral army in the world”, carried out organized and wide-scale ethnic cleansing and destruction, particularly in East Jerusalem and the area surrounding it.

The Latroun area, well-known for its ample water resources and fertile land, is located northwest of Jerusalem and close to the Green Line. Before 1948, this area consisted of a number of picturesque villages: Latroun, Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nouba. Imwas alone had a population of 1450 inhabitants and owned some 55,000 dunums of agricultural land. During the Nakba of 1948, the Zionist terrorists tried occupying Imwas several times, but were defeated. As a result of the truce-agreements signed at the time, Imwas lost some 50,000 dunums of its land, some of which becoming a No-Man’s land. The village Latroun, ethnically cleansed of its residents who were forced to move to nearby Imwas, fell within this assigned No-Man’s land. During the 1967 war and with the withdrawal of the Jordanian army, the Israeli army was able to occupy the Latroun area. The three Latroun villages: Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nouba, were ethnically cleansed before being completely wiped off the map. Zionist propaganda claims that the 3 villages were already empty when the Israeli army arrived. But the testimonies of the residents of the 3 villages, in addition to testimonies of some of the Israeli soldiers who were present at the time, speak of a premeditated forced expulsion. Israeli photographer Yosef Hochman, who accompanied the soldiers at the time, reported that when he asked Major General Uzi Narkiss, who was Commanding General of the Central Command in 1967 and gave the orders for the destruction of the villages, why the 3 Latroun villages were destroyed, “Narkiss answered that it was revenge for what happened there in 1948.”(1) In his memories of the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan wrote about the destruction of the Latroun villages and half of Qalqilya: “[houses were destroyed] not in the battle, but as punishment ... and in order to chase away the inhabitants.”(2)

On the morning of the 6th of June, Unit 4 of the Israeli army entered the 3 villages accompanied with tanks and bulldozers, yet another proof that the destruction was pre-planned. The majority of the inhabitants had stayed in their homes, because they feared a repetition of the 1948 expulsion and because they had nowhere else to go. Some had left the day before in fear of massacres similar to those committed during the Nakba. Others found refuge in nearby Imwas Monastery. In Imwas, under the orders of Yitzhak Rabin, armoured military jeeps wan-dered the streets and with loudspeakers ordered the villagers to leave, giving them only 3 hours to gather their possessions. Many refused to leave, so they were forced out under the threat of gun before the bulldozers started razing the houses. The Israeli soldiers told the residents to go to nearby villages such as Yalu and Beit Nouba, which were also being ethnically cleansed. As the villagers made their way out of the 3 villages in groups, the soldiers shot over their heads to hurry them and as warning not to come back. Zahda Abu Qtaish from Imwas remembers:”They told us to come with the children to the Mukhtar’s (community-leader) home. I replied that I couldn’t; I had bread baking in the oven, the closets were open, the house was not tidy, the chickens were hungry. The Jew said it was not important, that later I could come back and fix everything. I took the children. One was holding my hand, one was on my shoulder, one was holding my dress. When we got the Mukhtar’s house, the Israelis said to keep walking, to go to Yula. I pleaded that the house was open, that the bread was in the oven. We left everything, our clothes, our money, everything. When I reached Yula, my legs gave up. Everybody from Imwas was there. We were told to keep walking. We walked for three days to Ramallah (north of Jerusalem). A lot of people died on the road. My feet were bleeding. For the next two months we slept under trees. We had no tents, no blankets. We slept on dirt. My family was thirsty and hungry.”(3)

Even those who found refugee in the nearby Latroun monastery were also expelled by the Israeli army. In a testimony made by Al-Haq, Nihad Thaher from Imwas recalled: “At the dawn the following morning, 6 June 1967, some of the nuns went outside to inform the Israeli soldiers that several residents of Imwas village were present inside the monastery. The soldiers asked us all to get out. After we had done so, we were told by one of the Israeli captains to walk along the road to the city of Ramallah. He told us not to return to our houses and threatened to kill us if we did… thus, we were expelled on Thursday 6 June 1967. The Israeli soldiers were lined up on both sides of the road and would admonish anyone who asked for permission to go to their house to bring milk or food for their children. I was one of those who asked as I had my wife and three children to look after. My eldest child was five years old, the second was 3 years old and the youngest was 8 months old. My children were barefoot and half-naked. We walked on foot between the Israeli jeeps and tanks towards Beit Nouba, and then to Beit Liqya. There, the Israeli soldiers found a Jordanian soldier attempting to surrender. They started to beat him in front of everybody and then shot and beheaded him.”(4) Ahmad Abu Ghoush from Imwas recalled:”Some families went to the Latroun Ministry believing they would be safe there because it was a Christian place but they were not. My family first went to Yalu, then Beit Nouba, then onto Beit Ur before finally being forced to walk all the way to Ramallah. The soldiers emptied all the houses in the villages and forced everyone out onto the streets. The only way open was to Ramallah and they told us to go there. Other soldiers were saying `Go to Jedah, all the land before there is ours and if you stop before Jedah we will kill you!`... people took keys, small things, some were forced to go with no shoes or real clothes, they were forced out in just their nightclothes, I saw people walking barefoot. We walked all the way to Ramallah, 32 km with no food or water, it took us about nine or ten hours. Four people from the village died during this journey.”(5) ‘Aysha Hammad, who lived on the outskirts of Yalu testified to Al-Haq: “On the fourth day, I believe it was 9 June 1967, several people who had fled the village returned. In the evening, my husband came home and said: the Israelis are in the village and they are calling through loudspeakers.” The Israelis were saying “all residents of Yalu must leave to Ramallah. Those who don't will be in danger.” I got my 3 children ready, but couldn't carry anything, as I was six months pregnant. We walked to the nearby village of Beit Nouba, only one kilometer from Yalu. As I entered Beit Nouba, I saw several bulldozers guarded by Israeli soldiers razing houses in the village to the ground.”(6) In the documentary Film “Memory of the Cactus”, directed by Hanna Musleh, Hochman comments on a photo he took at the time of an elderly couple forced to leave their home: “I took pictures of a couple trying to put everything onto a donkey and it fell off. With a soldier waiting for them to try again, and it fell off again.”(7) The glee on the soldier’s face shows how much these criminals enjoyed what they were doing.

The first days of the occupation, bulldozers were used to flatten the houses, later with the arrival of the engineer-ing unit of the Israeli army, explosives were used to blast the houses and wipe out the 3 villages completely. Houses, schools and mosques were destroyed. This wide-scale destruction of property, accompanied by loot-ing, took place during and after the war. Few days later, the Israeli army announced in radios that the residents of the villages could come back. But when they did come back, not only did they find their villages destroyed, but were also shot at by Israeli soldiers, killing a number of them (it was reported that at least 5 Palestinians were killed this way). Amos Kenan, a journalist who served as a soldier during the 1967 war, recalled the story of Beit Nouba:
“We were told it was our job to search the village houses; that if we found any armed men there, they were to be taken prisoners. Any unarmed persons should be given time to pack their belongings and then told to get moving - get moving to Beit Sira, a village not far away. We were also told to take up positions around the approaches to the villages, in order to prevent those villagers who had heard the Israeli assurances over the radio that they could return to their homes in peace – from returning to their homes. The order was - shoot over their heads and tell them there is no access to the village. The homes in Beit Nouba are beautiful stone houses, some of them luxurious mansions. Each house stands in an orchid of olives, apricots and grapevines; there are also cypresses and other trees grown for their beauty and the shade they give. Each tree stands in its carefully watered bed. Between the trees, lie neatly hoed and weeded rows of vegetables. At noon the first bulldozer arrived, and ploughed under the house closest to the village edge. With one sweep of the bulldozer, the cypresses and the olive-trees were uprooted. Ten more minutes pass and the house, with its meagre furnishings and belongings, has become a mass of rubble. After three houses had been rowed down, the first convoy of refugees arrives, from the direction of Ramallah. We did not shoot into the air. We did take up positions for coverage, and those of us who spoke Arabic went up to them to give them the orders. There were old men hardly able to walk, old women mumbling to themselves, babies in their mother’s arms, small children weeping, begging for water. The convoy waved white flags. We told them to move on to Beit Sira. They said that wherever they went, they were driven away, that nowhere were they allowed to stay. They said they had been on the way for four days now - without food or water; some had perished on the way. They asked only to be allowed back into their own village; and said we would do better to kill them. Some had brought with them a goat, a sheep, a camel or a donkey. A father crunched grains of wheat in his hand to soften them so that his four children might have something to eat. On the horizon, we spotted the next line approaching. One man was carrying a 50 kg sack of flour on his back, and that was how he had walked mile after mile. More old men, more women, more babies. They flopped down exhausted at the spot where they were told to sit. Some had brought along a cow or two, or a calf - all their earthly possessions. We did not allow them to go into the village to pick up their belongings, for the order was that they must not be allowed to see their homes being destroyed. .... We asked the officers why the refugees were being sent back and forth and driven away from everywhere they went. The officers said it would do them good to walk and asked “why worry about them, they’re only Arabs”? .... More and more lines of refugees kept arriving. By this time there must have been hundreds of them. They couldn’t understand why they had been told to return, and now were not being allowed to return... The platoon com-mander decided to go to headquarters to find out whether there was any written order as to what should be done with them, where to send them and to try and arrange transportation for the women and children, and food supplies. He came back and said there was no written order; we were to drive them away. Like lost sheep they went on wandering along the roads. The exhausted were rescuing (In other testimonies, Kenan writes here: the weak die(8)). Towards evening we learned that we had been told a falsehood – at Beit Sira too bulldozers had begun their work of destruction, and the refugees had not been allowed to enter. We also learned that it was not in our sector alone that areas were being “straightened out”; the same was going on in all sectors.”(9) Part of them went to Ramallah, where they slept in the bus station for a week, but the majority walked all the way to the Bridge and crossed to Amman. During this second Nakba, some 400,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes. In 1988 Narkiss talked of the transfer operation in an interview:” I placed several buses in Jerusalem and in other cities (of the west bank), written on them: “to amman - free of charge” the bus used to carry them to the (partly) destroyed Allenby bridge and then they would cross it (to jordan).” He also mentioned the daily telephone calls of Pinhas Sapir, Finance Minister at the time: “Pinhas Sapir used to phone me twice a day, to ask: how many [Arabs] got out today? Is the number of the inhabitants of the West bank diminishing? The number [of those being transported by the buses] began with 600 and 700 persons a day, and then it began to decline until it reached a few scores, and after two or three months the [bus] operation stopped.”(10)

Although often denied by Israel, some houses were destroyed on the heads of their inhabitants, those being mostly elderly and handicapped, who either refused to leave or didn’t have enough time to leave before the destruction began. Some died on the way to Ramallah and other places after being expelled by the Israeli army, and others were shot dead by the Israeli army as they tried to return to their villages. The Latroun monks went to Imwas days after the village had been occupied. “Father Tournay, Catholic priest who has lived in East Jerusa-lem since 1945 and was head of the Ecole Biblique there, said the Latroun monks “smelled bodies” rotting inside the demolished homes.”(11) In testimonies collected by Al-Haq, a number of eye witnesses, who snuck into the 3 villages immediately after the destruction, mention bodies under the ruins of houses or decomposed bodies in the area. In Beit Nouba, at least 18 residents were found dead under the rubbles of their houses. Ahmad Isa from Beit Nouba testified: “We tried to enter the village from several locations, but we were prohibited from doing so by the soldiers. Accordingly, we were forced to take refuge in Beit Sira, which is close to our village. My father and I snuck to our house in Beit Nouba in order to bring back food, oil and mattresses. We saw horrible things along the way, namely several men and women who had been killed: Lutfi Mahmoud Hassan Abu Rahhal, Mahmoud Ali Baker, who was blind and who appeared to have been killed as a result of his house being demolished while he was inside it … the bodies of another 3 men who were also dead had been thrown amongst the trees: Al Abed Ayyad, Isa Muhammad and Abdallah Zuhdi.”(12) Dr. Ismail Zayid from Beit Nouba recalled:” In the course of the Israel army’s occupation and destruction of my village of Beit Nouba in June 1967, 18 people died under the rubble of their demolished homes because they were too old or disabled to get out of their houses in time, before the Israeli explosives were effected to destroy the houses…. One of those killed was Mohammad Ali Bakr, an uncle of my mother. He was old and infirm, and was buried alive under the rubble of his home in Beit Nouba, not far from ours. My mother also told me that when the Israeli army came to blow up our house, they told my uncle Hussain Zayid, an elderly and arthritic man whose ability to move was severely limited, that they would first blow up the western part of our house, which was in a walled quadrangle. They said they would then move to destroy the eastern part of the house, and should he still be there, he would not be given the opportunity to leave.”(13) In Imwas, at least 10 residents who were not able to leave their homes because they were either elderly or handicapped, are till today unaccounted for, suspected to have been killed inside their houses when the Israeli army destroyed these houses. A further 5 at least died on the way to Ramallah or were killed by landmines. Ahmad Abu Ghoush remembered:” There were ten elders in the village including one disabled man. They didn’t leave. We know they didn’t leave because they couldn’t, but nobody ever saw any of them again after that night. One soldier has written a testimony which said he ´saw another telling one of these old men to leave his house, but the man refused saying `I cant walk and I wont leave! You can kill me but I will not leave!`”(14) Dr. Musa Abu Ghosh from Imwas remembered: “In spite of all the difficulties, some of the younger people managed to infiltrate back to their homes to pick up some belongings, and when they dug into the rubble, some found bodies. A relative of mine was found this way - Hasan Shukri, the son of my cousin. He was 19, an invalid, paralyzed from polio. They found his body underneath his house.”(15) Ali Salma from Yalu said: “After 20 days (towards the end of June), I, together with another resident of my village, went to Yalu through the valleys, mountains and fields. As we reached the Beit Nouba fields, I saw 4 corpses laid out beside each other. They were: Ibrahim Shuebi, Al Abed Tayeh, Zuheir Zuhdi and Isa Abu Isa. All of them were from Yalu. I didn't examine the corpses because they were swollen. We entered the village at around midnight. We first went to the demolished home of Abu Wasim where we saw the body of Isa Ziyada and more demolished houses. We were both very scared. We both took some stuff from the rubble of his house and left to go back towards Kharbatha.”(16)

When the Israeli soldiers were done with their “duty”, more than 10,000 people had been forcibly expelled, no less than 39 residents were reported killed or are till today unaccounted for. In his article “Outrage at Emwas”, John Goddard writes: “I collected 39 names of people said to have been killed in the villages, 17 from Imwas, 11 from Beit Nouba, and 11 from Yalo.”(17) Some 1464 houses were destroyed: 375 in Imwas houses, 539 in Yalu and 550 in Beit Nouba. A couple of months later, the villagers were allowed back to the Latroun, but only to collect their harvest. “my brother drove our truck. We saw everything destroyed, just the mosque was still standing. People were crying and weeping, some were just standing, looking, speechless ... some had lost all their land in 1948 but had tried to rebuild their lives and now it had all happened again. People needed anything so took whatever they could find and put in into trucks. Some people found a sheep or a goat but the houses were totally destroyed. We found our `cawasheen` (a big box containing important documents such as deeds to property and land) but couldn’t get any clothes or anything else. We knew there was nothing left but we wanted to see what had happened to our village ...”(18) The British reporter Michael Adams visited Imwas in 1968, wrote: “When my companion and I came to Beit Nouba 6 months after Kenan, much had changed. Most significantly, the rubble had disappeared. It had taken the Israelis 6 months to clear it, in great secrecy; while relays of volunteers were engaged in this macabre task, the authorities closed the approach road to Latroun.... Without a guide, I should probably have driven straight through without realising that there had been villages here at all. The demolition squads had been thorough. But when we stopped the car and got out to look, there were plenty of tell-tale signs; it isn’t easy, even in 6 months, to wipe out a thousand years of history without leaving a trace. There were a few pieces of masonry, a broken tile, a twisted rod of steel from some concrete extension and - a sure sign that people had once lived here – the cactus hedges, which the Palestinians use to protect their gardens and orchards against marauders, were starting to grow back. They are very hard to eradicate.”(19) 1970, the illegal settlement “Mevo Horon” was built on the lands of Beit Nouba. Three years later, the Jewish National Fund of Canada funded the establishment of a recreational park, the Canada Park, on the ruins of Imwas and Yalu. Zahda Abu Qtaish from Imwas remarked when she first visited the Canada Park: “I couldn't believe it ...My home was down to the ground. They had turned the village into a park. They called it Canada Park. I cried and cried.”(20) Ahmad Abu Ghoush from Imwas talked of his visit to the park: “When returning to the park I had mixed feelings. It’s very hard, standing on the ruins of where you used to live while seeing people laughing, eating and enjoying themselves.”(21)

The ethnic cleansing of the 3 Latroun villages is only one example of the on-going ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the Judization of Jerusalem. In 1948, Israel occupied 85% of Jerusalem (the west part), 4 % were declared No-Man’s land, and the remaining 11% (including with the Old City) fell under Jordanian rule. Up to 80,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homes in West Jerusalem and 40 surrounding villages. The villages were wiped off the face of the earth and the homes, lands and property confiscated. In June 1967, during and after the war, Palestinians were expelled from East Jerusalem and the surrounding villages, like the Latroun villages. The war was officially over on the 10th of June, 1967 and on the night of 10/11th of June, Israel began with its first measures to Judize East Jerusalem: the ethnic cleansing and destruction of the Magharbeh Quarter and the Al-Sharaf neighbourhood of the Old City. Given only 3 hours notice, the residents of the Magharbeh Quarter were ordered to pack their belongings and leave. The Quarter was then destroyed to make place for a plaza in front of the Western Wall. Palestinians living in Al-Sharaf neighbourhood were also expelled to enlarge the Jewish Quarter. Among others, Ben-Gurion, Dayan, Kollek and Lahat were responsible for the destruction of these Palestinian neighbourhoods. The eviction and destruction was carried out rapidly to avoid international attention and criticism. The residents were removed by force from their houses by Israeli soldiers. The bulldozers were ready, and the orders were to finish the eviction and destruction that very same night. Al Sharaf neighbourhood and the Magharbeh Quarter were emptied of their residents: over 6000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and an estimated 135 houses were destroyed in the Old City. The boundaries of Jerusalem were redrawn by central command chief at the time, Rahavan Ze’evi. “The line he drew “took in not only the 5 km² of Arab east Jerusalem - but also 65 km² of surrounding open country and villages, most of which never had any municipal link to Jerusalem. Overnight they became part of Israel’s eternal and indivisible capital.”(22) In 1980, East Jerusalem was annexed to Israel.

Major General Narkiss, who was Commanding General of the Central Command in 1967 and had approved the destruction of the Magharbeh Quarter, recalled before his death in 1997 that a few hours after the capture of East Jerusalem, he was urged by Rabbi Goren to blow up the Aqsa mosque. Although Rabbi Goren’s wish was not fulfilled, it was the first of many future attempts by fanatic Jews and the Israeli government to destroy the Aqsa, whether directly by attempts to burn it or indirectly by building tunnels underneath it. Excavations beneath the Aqsa mosque and the area surrounding it continue, and the several tunnels dug beneath it weaken its foundations. At the same time, much needed renovations to the Aqsa and its surroundings are not permitted. Today, there is almost no Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem that is not threatened with destruction, demolition and ethnic cleansing. Despite international criticism, Israel goes on in its Judization of Jerusalem. While illegal Jewish settlers from all around the world are allowed to buy property in Jerusalem and settle in it, and illegal settlements are rapidly expanding with ring after ring of settlements suffocating the city and the surrounding Palestinian villages and towns, Palestinian Jerusalemites are losing their homes and their lands and their birth right in their city Jerusalem. While Israel continues its brutal military occupation and the destruction of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Palestinians have two “prime ministers” and two sets of “cabinets” and a “legislative council” whose building is off-limits to Palestinians and where the “representatives of this so-called authority” are either locked up in Israeli jails, in the Gaza open-air prison or the West Bank ghettos or need Israeli permits to move between the Zones A, B or C, D, E and F and all the rest. Maybe while they fight over who gets to be the next president, they might want to stop for a minute and remember that the state they are fighting to rule is STILL under military occupation and that “their” people are either being massacred or expelled by this brutal occupation.

Today, the original inhabitants of the Latrun villages and their descendants are scattered around the world, some live in the Ramallah area, others in Jordan. Adams found it difficult to convince editors to publish articles about the Latroun villages. “The Israeli government and whoever in the army command gave the order to destroy the villages, must have thought that it was possible to rearrange both history and geography in this way: that if they carted away the rubble and raked over the ground and planted seedlings where the homes of 9000 people had been, all of which they did, they would be able to get away with it. Why? Because of the Holocaust, and because Western newspaper editors don’t like to be called anti-Semitic.”(23) When Israel offered money to the inhabitants of the Latroun as compensation for their stolen lands and destroyed houses, they refused. Ahmad Abu Ghoush from Imwas remembers: “My father was on the committee that negotiated with Israel. They were offering money as compensation for our land and homes. My father told them `we will not accept all the money in the world for one dunum of Imwas, and we will not accept one dunum in heaven for one dunum in Imwas!`. The Israeli’s told him that he had three choices `, you can go the same way as Abdul Hameed (an exiled Palestinian activist for the Right of Return); two – prison; three – put something sweet in your mouth and keep quiet!”(24) For Zahda Abu Qtaish and all those expelled from the Latroun, things are clear: “I see everything; I remember everything; I will never forget.”(25)

Names of Latroun inhabitants killed under the rubble of their houses destroyed by the Israeli army, or on the road when they were expelled by the Israeli army:(26)
Hajar Khalil
Zaynab Hasan Khalil
Yamna Abu Rayalah
Fatmah Al Qbeibah
Hadia Al Qbeibah
Riyadh ElSkeikh
Hasan Nimer Abu Khalil
Hasan Shukri Abu Ghosh
Amnah Al Sheikh Hussain
Ayshah Salamah
Ahmad Hassan Al Saed
Ali Ismael Abdullah
Khaleel Jazar
Muhammad Abu Illas
Zaynab Ahmad Musa
Isa Ziyada
Hussein Hurani
Ali Alarab
Naimeh Hammad
Halimeh Hamadallah
Sabha Alarab
Fadda Ziyad
Sabha Mallah
Mahmoud Khalil
Ibrahim Shueibi
Suheil Musa
Abdel Rahim Tayeh
Isa Ibrahim
Abdel Karim Nimer
Lutfi Mahmoud
Hassan Abu Rahhal
Mahmoud Ali Baker
Al Abed Ayyad
Isa Muhammad
Abdallah Zuhdi
Bakr Hasan Shukri
Zuheir Zuhdi
Isa Abu Isa
The one year old daughter of Ahmad Atiyah

4.John Reynolds: Where Villages Stood, (Al-Haq) 2007.
6.John Reynolds: Where Villages Stood, (Al-Haq) 2007.
12.John Reynolds: Where Villages Stood, (Al-Haq) 2007.
16.John Reynolds: Where Villages Stood, (Al-Haq) 2007.
26.Names collected from several sources: S. Sources.


Imwas in 1958 (before the destruction) and in 1968 (after the destruction)


Imwas in 1958 (before the destruction) and in 1968 (after the destruction)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Get up, stand up for Palestinian Rights on May Day and Every Day

Every morning, thousands of Palestinians say goodbye to their families and go to work. Teachers, doctors, farmers, labourers, fishermen, etc… They go to school to teach children, defying the Israeli tank standing outside the school. They go to their fields to work them, defying fanatic Jewish settlers armed with weapons and hate. They repair their tents and go fishing, defying Israeli pirate ships shelling and hijacking the area. They drive their ambulances and rush to save lives, defying Israeli snipers aiming to kill. They take their pens and recording equipment to register Israeli crimes, defying Israeli tanks with their cameras. They go to their jobs every morning defying daily Israeli crimes committed under the eyes, ears and noses of the whole world that prefers to remain silent. They go to their jobs because they want their children to have food on the table, a roof over their heads, an education as a weapon in their hands, and a future that is free of Zionists and military occupation. The 1st of May is a day to remember every Palestinian who wakes up to a new day, full of new hopes and new strength to face and defy the siege, the closure, the military occupation, the fanatic settlers, the terror aiming to starve us as a nation and make us fall to our knees.

On the 1st of May we remember Zionist massacres committed against Palestinian labourers. We remember the massacre of Oyoun Qara (Rishon Lezion), when on 20.5.1990 an Israeli soldier lined up some 100 Palestinian labourers who were on their way to work, and in cold blood killed 7 of them with a sub-machine gun. As with all massacres committed by individual Israelis, the Israeli government rushed to declare the soldier deranged. Ami Popper, the IOF soldier, had come upon the group of Palestinians, asked them to in kneel down in 3 lines, and after checking their IDs and making sure they were Arabs he started shooting randomly at them. Their only fault was that they were Palestinians. They had lost their homes and everything else they owned in 1948, and were made refugees by the Zionist state. And as the tragedy of the Nakba continued, the suffering of these people knew no end. For, in order to feed their children, they were forced to work like slaves for those who made refugees out of them. The photos of the massacre show the extent of hate and brutality of the IOF soldier: young and elderly, drowning in pools of blood, their lunch packages scattered around them. And when the Israeli police finally arrived to the scene of the massacre, they started beating those Palestinian workers who had survived the death machine that day. On the 1st of May we remember:
Abdil Rahim Baraka - 23 years old from Khan Younis.
Ziyad Swed, 22 years old from Rafah.
Zayid Alamour, 23 years old from Khan Younis.
Suleiman abu Anza, 22 years old from Khan Younis.
Omar Dahles, 27 years old from Khan Younis.
Zakariya Qdeh, 35 years old from Khan Younis.
Younis Abu Daqa from Khan Younis.

On the 1st of May we remember the 3 Palestinian labourers who were burned to death in a shed in Or Yehuda near Tel Aviv on 9.8.1988. As the 3 men cried out for help, spectators stood watching while the fire ate the men alive. When interviewed by the press on the incident, the residents of Or Yehuda showed unanimous support of the hideous murder. One Israeli witness to the burning said: “It was all organized beautifully.” Adding, “look, I could put 10 in a line and shoot them. That’s okay. But burning, I can’t do. When it happened I sat on the veranda and if I didn't have family reason not to I would dance. I wouldn't help them. Let them be burned, the Arabs.” His 17 year old brother added: “I will go to the border guards to kill Arabs by beating them with clubs”. Another resident serving in the IOF said: “They did well to burn them. Why should they be ashamed” … “It's a Mitzvah, what they did …”. Only one person, an IOF soldier, tried to help and that only because the 3 men were screaming out for help in Hebrew and he thought them Jews. One of the 3 men ran out of the shed while burning, but the residents of Or Yehuda stood watching as he was burned alive. Another Israeli told a reporter that they should do to the Arabs what Hitler did to the Jews, and that he didn't care if they put Arabs in concentration camps. One 16 year old said, “what does it matter if an Arab burns? What does an Arab matter at all? It’s not a human being. I wouldn't care if more than 2000 burned.” His friend added: “I would burn 5,000 more.” This is the same Or Yehuda whose residents publicly burned hundreds of copies of the New Testament on 15.5.2008. On the 1st of May we remember:
Abdallah Khalil, 30 years old from Khan Younis.
Said Ismael from Rafah.
Naseem Ayid from Magazi Refugee Camp.

On the 1st of May we remember many more massacres committed by the Zionist state and its IOF against innocent civilians working for their daily living. We remember the Eretz Checkpoint massacre, when on 17.7.1994 Israeli soldiers killed 11 Palestinian labourers and injured 200 who were waiting at the checkpoint to go to their work. We remember the Tarqumia massacre, when on 10.3.1998 IOF soldiers stopped a van full with unarmed Palestinian labourers on their way home after a long day. The soldiers opened fire without warning, killing 3 men. Others survived death because the bodies of their murdered comrades fell over them and protected them from the bullets. We remember those who were shot dead at checkpoints on their way to work or on their way back home. We remember those forced to sleep in sheds like animals. We remember those forced to wear badges like the yellow Star of David the Nazis forced the Jews to wear. We remember those beaten almost to death by Israelis for being Arabs and for wanting to clean the cities of them.

On the 1st of May we remember Palestinian teachers who despite restrictions and arrests continue to teach Palestinians, generation after generation, about Palestine, about freedom and about our non-negotiable rights. We remember the teachers who went on strike after Israel occupied East Jerusalem and forced its Zionist Curriculum in Arab schools. We remember those who refused to teach this curriculum despite Israeli threats or the promised rewards in case they concede to teaching the curriculum. We remember those who were punished and sent to teach in isolated schools far away from their homes, that they had to wake up at 4 every morning to be able to reach their schools and continue teach Palestinian children. We remember school and university teachers who after Israel closed all educational institutions during the first Intifada, organized secret learning groups, risked their lives to meet with their pupils and give them lessons and worked day and night preparing work material for their students so the educational process could go on. We remember our teachers, who stood with such dignity despite being humiliated and beaten by teenage IOF soldiers who had no respect for anything. We remember those teachers who try to protect us from the shelling of our schools, from the armed soldiers at checkpoints, from the fanatic settlers waiting at every corner to attack us. We remember those teachers who risked their freedom to teach us about Palestinian history, folklore and culture. We remember all those teachers who spend years in Israeli prisons, those who were tortured and those who were killed by the IOF or illegal Jewish settlers. We remember Hani Na’eem, a 38 year old school teacher who was killed by an Israeli missile attack on a school in Beit Hanoun on 7.2.2008. Three 16 year old pupils were wounded in the attack. We remember Wafa’ Al Daghma, a 34 year old teacher killed in her home and in front of her three children during an Israeli raid on 11.5.2008. Wafa’s head was blown away as the IOF blasted open the front door of her house with explosives. They then locked the children aged 2 to 13 in a room for five hours, and continued their military incursion while the body of Wafa lay on the ground.

On the 1st of May we remember doctors, nurses and all medical personnel who were killed while performing their duty. We remember the medical personnel who were beaten, tortured or killed by illegal settlers. We remember those brave men who continue their work despite Israeli attacks, shelling, curfews and incursions. We remember those doctors who were killed while performing first aid to wounded Palestinians and those who were blown to pieces together with their ambulances by Israeli bombs. Ample evidence shows that such attacks are no isolated incidents or mistakes, but represent an adopted policy of deliberate targeting to kill even those whose duty is to save lives. We remember the 23 Palestinians killed and the 850 injured in the Al Aqsa mosque massacre on 8.10.1990. According to media reports, nurse Fatima Abu Khadir who witnessed the massacre said: “we went into the mosque precincts in an ambulance. I saw a large number of injured who had fallen on the ground. Then I saw lots of soldiers, hundreds of soldiers. They were about 30 meters from the ambulance and kneeling on one knee the way snipers do, and their weapons were aimed inside the ambulance.” Physician Muhammad Abu ‘Alya said: “I got out of the ambulance carrying a first-aid kit. I was wearing a white uniform. The soldiers saw me and knew I was a doctor. But when I got to the wounded person nearest me and bent down to treat him, I got three bullets in my back in the region of the kidney. At that very moment, the wounded man near me died. But he could have been saved if I hadn’t been hit.” We remember the 16 medical personnel killed while on duty by the IOF during the latest war on Gaza:
Rami Al Salut, 27 years old, medical lab. specialist, Sheikh Radwan.
Azmi Abu Dalal, 26 years old, medic, Nuseirat.
Ahmed Abdallah, 26 years old, nurse, Rafah.
Ihab Al-Shaer, 32 years old, physician, Rafah.
Zeyad Abu Teir, 32 years old, nurse, Khan Younis.
Mohammad Abu Hassira, 21 years old, medic, al daraj.
Ihab Al-Madhoun, 35 years old, physician, al daraj.
Yaser Shbeir, 25 years old, medic, Shati Refugee Camp.
Anas Na’im, 23 years old, medic, Al Zaytoon.
Ra’fat Ibrahim, 20 years old, medic, Al Sabra.
Arafah Abdul Dayem, 35 years old, medic, Beit Hanoun.
Salem Al-Bensh, 57 years old, nurse, Rafah.
Albina Al-Jaru, 25 years old, physician, Gaza.
Issa Saleh, 32 years old, physician, Jabalia.
Abdullah Al-Imawi, 22 years old, nurse, Gaza.
Zayed Jneid, 30 years old, medic, Gaza.

On the 1st of May we remember journalists, camerapersons and other media personnel who died while reporting on Israeli crimes and exposing Israeli terror to the world. We remember those wounded and those imprisoned for fighting Israel with their pens. We remember Nazeh Darwazeh and Fadel Shanna, two cameramen whose last minutes were caught on camera. We remember Imad Abu Zahra, Ihab Al-Wahidi, Hamza Shaheen, Omar Silawi, Muhammad Al-Bishawi, Raffaele Ciriello, James Miller, Mohamad Abu Halima, Basil Faraj, and many other journalists killed and injured by the IOF. We remember Issam Tillawi, whose story is similar to that of thousands of Palestinian families: a story of losing a home, wandering and suffering in the Diaspora, waiting for the day to come back home. In 1948 Issam’s family was forced out of their hometown of Tell and found temporary refuge in Iraq, after which the family moved to Kuwait. During the 2nd Gulf War, the Tillawi family was deported from Iraq and moved yet again to Jordan. Issam decided to go back to his home country; to Palestine. He worked at the voice of Palestine as a journalist and hosted 2 weekly programs: “International Affairs” and “Nahar Jadid”. While covering a demonstration in protest of the Israeli military occupation in the Manara Square in Ramallah on the night of 22.9.2002, Issam was shot in the back of the head by an IOF sniper. He was wearing a jacket stating clearly that he’s a journalist and had his recording equipment with him, so any sniper would have seen clearly what he was shooting at. Issam lay 10 minutes bleeding on the street before the ambulance was allowed to reach him, but the medics couldn't save his life. As usual, the IOF claimed it was not responsible for his death, adding that he was among a group of demonstrators. Issam was 32 when he was murdered, and today he finds his final resting place in Tell, that small village from which his parents were uprooted in 1948. He is back in Palestine for good.

On the 1st of May we remember Palestinian farmers working their lands, protecting them and standing steadfast on these lands in the face of the Israeli war being waged against them to kick them out. We remember those attacked by the illegal Jewish settlers during harvest time. Palestinian farmers have been working their fields under threatening conditions. They have been shot at, attacked and harassed by the IOF and by illegal settlers. Many have been killed and hundreds wounded. Fields have been burned, harvest stolen and Olive trees uprooted and replanted in illegal Jewish settlements as decoration. Greenhouses and water wells have been destroyed, complete olive and fruit fields have been bulldozed and cattle have been butchered or stolen. Farmers living close to the Apartheid Wall are often blocked from reaching their lands, and need permits from the IOF to enter the field of their ancestors. Their land is being confiscated, their hard work stolen. Not satisfied with stealing the land and the harvest, settlers often set fire to whole fields, diminishing the hard work of years into ashes. The water Palestinian farmers need for their fields is being stolen by Israel and used to fill swimming pools in illegal Jewish settlements. One Palestinian farmer was reported saying: “it seems that we are going to pay with blood for each olive oil drop. The Palestinian olive oil this year is going to be mixed with the blood of its owner.” For another farmer “being with the tree is like being in heaven. I am not crazy but I open my heart to the trees. I think of the trees as I do of my family. I speak to them when I have troubles.” We remember Yahia Atta Bani Monia. The 18 year old shepherd from the Nablus area was executed in cold blood by a group of Jewish settlers from the illegal settlement of Etamar on 27.9.2008. After they were done with him, Yahia was left with some 20 bullets riddling his body. One bullet was not enough for these killers. We remember the group of shepherds attacked by masked settlers from the illegal settlement of Susia near Hebron. The shepherds, including an elderly couple of 58 and 60 were attending their sheep on their lands, when ordered by the settlers to leave the land. Upon refusal, they were attacked. We remember Yasser Tmeizi from Ithna near Hebron who was arrested by the IOF while working in his land with his son. The soldiers beat him with batons until he lost consciousness, and later died. The IOF claimed Yasser tried to snatch the weapon of one of the soldiers at a checkpoint, although many witnesses saw him being arrested and beaten on his land away from any checkpoint.

On the 1st of May we remember every Palestinian whose story rarely made the news and whose name we don't know. We remember the teacher who died of a heart attack after being beaten by the IOF. We remember the doctor who was tortured and hanged on a tree by fanatic Jewish settlers. We remember labourers, students, taxi drivers facing death squads at Israeli checkpoints. We remember farmers who risk their lives to reach their fields and work them for the next generations. We remember the fishermen of Gaza, practicing their right of fishing in their national waters and defying Israeli warships. We remember all those who fight every single day to provide some normality to their families under a most brutal situation. We remember those who despite Israeli terror, continue to live and protect their land and homes and families. We remember those who wake up every morning, think of the loved one that was killed yesterday, or the house that was demolished, or the field that was uprooted, and then go and hug their children and tell them about Palestine, build a new house on the ruins of the demolished one, plant more olive trees. And because we are Palestinians, because we cherish and love life and freedom and because the land is ours, we will continue hoping, and waking up every morning despite the daily terror, work to defend our land and protect it to hand it over to the next generations of Palestinians. We will continue to fight for our legitimate rights, for independence, for freedom. And one day we will tear down the Apartheid Wall and all the illegal settlements, break the siege, rebuild the destroyed towns and villages, free the prisoners, replant the fields desertified by Israel, because they will never kill our soul nor our will and we will keep waking up every morning for a new day in Palestine.

According to the PCHR: from the beginning of the 2nd Intifada on 29.9.2000 till 20.12.2008 3,741 Palestinian civilians have been killed by the IOF and 1,130 have been killed in armed clashes with the IOF. 26,063 have been injured.
During the 2nd Intifada at least 37 Palestinian teachers were killed by Israel, 55 were wounded and 190 detained. No less than 12 Palestinian journalists and camerapersons were killed.
During the latest Israeli war on Gaza 1417 Palestinians have been killed by the IOF, 926 of them were civilians. 5303 were injured.
16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed, 25 wounded.
12 teachers were killed, 5 wounded.
No less than 21 farmers killed, 2 fishermen and 92 labourers were killed.

Sources: (on the Tarqumia massacre of Palestinian labourers and the massacre at Rishon Lezion)


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

This is how a Nakba is carried out

The On-going Nakba of the Palestinians: Mission Ethnic Cleansing - Part II

“The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan; one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today. But the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.“ Davis Ben-Gurion, in 1936, quoted in Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle.”[1]

“Israel must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Towards this end it may, no – it must – invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge … and above all – let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.” Quoted in Livia Rokach, “Israel’s Sacred Terrorism.”[2]

“The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war.” Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha’aretz, 19 March 1972.[3]

As she looked from the kitchen window, Miriam could see the children playing in the narrow ally outside her tiny UNRWA accommodation. She could hear the women talking as they came to collect water from the water pump built by the UNRWA for the camp residents. “They say there will be a war soon. Their army is prepared and is moving closer,” said one woman. Another answered comfortingly: “the Arab armies will protect us. Didn't you hear what they were saying on the radio? They have strong armies and they will defeat the Zionists. This time it will be different.” She added in a stronger voice, maybe trying to convince herself of it. “The other day I saw the Jordanian National Guard make its way to Battir”. Miriam thought of her husband, who was sent to Battir to defend them of any Zionist attacks. He had fought in 1948 to protect their little home and Jrash from the Zionist terrorists, but in the end they didn't have any ammunition more and despite hoping for support from Arab armies, the help didn't come and they were forced to leave, leaving everything behind. They had been married only a couple of years before the Nakba, had been happy, living in a peaceful village, working in their fields, surrounded by family and friends. “The Arab armies betrayed us in 1948. They were weak and had already decided who gets what out of Palestine. It was our men, our fathers and our grandfathers who fought the Zionists. Many of them paid with their lives defending Palestine, while the Arabs refused even to pay for bullets to rescue the besieged men, women and children. Many died and many were expelled from Palestine while still waiting for the Arab troops to come,” said a woman in an angry voice, snatching Miriam away from her most cherished memories of Jrash and brining her back into the brutal reality being discussed outside. “Maybe it is because of that, that this time they will fight like men and protect us,” replied another. “Did you see the troops on Jabal Anton? Or those around Bethlehem? They are armed and ready for the enemy.” The camp residents have been watching the movements in the area, a Jordanian unit had set camp on Jabal Anton near Dheisheh, and other units were spread around the area. There was much talk of the coming war. The radio kept talking about the victory that is coming, how well-equipped and trained the armies are, that this time they will be marching back to Haifa, Yaffa and will march to Tel Aviv. But these people watched and listened with little hope and much distrust. The scars of the Nakba were still visible and they still hurt as if the Nakba had happened yesterday and not some 20 years ago. They had lost not only loved ones, but their homes, their fields and their whole existence, and were living as refugees in little rooms and depending on the food rations given to them by the UNRWA, as if they were beggars. Miriam remembered how on their way to Dheisheh, they had passed Palestinian villages, seeking refugee, and how sometimes they were told by villagers that they were cowards, leaving their homes and their villages to the Zionists. They were not cowards, nor did they leave by their free will. How can anyone willingly leave their homes, lands, belongings and choose the life of a refugee? And now, it seems they are destined to seek a new refuge yet again and in another place. “They forced us out of our homes one time. We won’t allow them to do this a second time.” One woman said, and everyone, including Miriam in her kitchen, agreed.

The camp residents had decided that this time they were not to be forced away. They would stay put and not leave. For they knew, a second exodus would bring them yet farther away from their original homes and villages, from which they were expelled in 1948. They were still determined to go back home. Some camp residents had dug a sort of basement or pit under their houses or close by, a place to keep their families safe during the war. Others, like Miriam, found refugee in one of the caves in nearby Artas, where she and her children stayed the first couple of days of the war. And then the war was over. As Miriam and her children made their way back home, she realized baby Ghassan was left back in the cave. He was only a couple of months old. She had depended on one of her daughters to carry him, while she hurried back home to make sure the house was safe for the children to come back to it. When the children arrived and no one had the baby, Miriam ran all the way back to the cave to get him. Years later, they often joked about it, reminding Ghassan that he’d almost ended up like Ghassan Kanafani’s forgotten baby in “Returning to Haifa”. Losing a child is the worst nightmare of any parent, but worse yet is losing the child to a brutal enemy, for that child to be brought up to kill his/her own people. Because the mere idea of it is such a painful idea, one prefers to think of “Returning to Haifa” as a product of Kanafani’s imagination, and hope that no parent would have to go through what the family of “Abu Khaled” went through. For Miriam and her family, Kanafani’s story is a true reflection of the harsh realities of wartime.

Her daughter, who was working at the hospital in Bethlehem at the time, had told her of the air raids, and how they would all, workers and patients, find refuge in the hospital’s basement. Every time a bomb fell nearby, the whole building would shake and she would wonder how long it would take this time before it was over. When it was over, they would go back upstairs to their work, thinking of the next raid and if they would survive that one as well. “There was little or no fighting going on. Sometimes we could hear machine guns firing in the distance, but that was not often and it didn't last long. We only saw Israeli airplanes, and then the air raids would start and Israeli bombs would fall on Bethlehem. The troops sitting on Jabal Anton were also under attack. The whole mountain and the area surrounding it was the target of air raids. And then one day, all of a sudden, the Jordanian soldiers were gone. They had packed and left, leaving the people to their destiny and to the Zionist troops marching towards Bethlehem. In the refugee camp it was said that when the unit was given the orders to withdraw, the commander in charge committed suicide. People said the man couldn't take the humiliation anymore; first told their duty was to defend Palestine and then when the fighting started they were told to withdraw.

The 6 day war was in fact over the first 3 hours of the first day. The Arab air forces were completely destroyed within the first hours of the 5th of June, 1967, while the Arab armies were having breakfast. “It was said that it took the Zionists 3 hours to destroy the Egyptian air forces, 2 hours to destroy the Syrian and 9 minutes to destroy the Jordanian air forces.” They were handicapped without their air forces and thus the war was decided. “The Israelis couldn't have had it easier. “The victory of an “invincible army” indeed! They didn't need to fight at all! It was as if all was prepared for them. It felt like being figures in a very nasty play.” The Palestinians were not allowed to own guns or any sort of weapons, thus cleaned of any form of armed resistance and the armies that were “supposedly” there to protect and defend them didn’t participate in any real fighting, only some clashes here and there before they withdrew. The reality on the ground in the Palestinian Territories was that the Israeli army was actually “fighting” a war against an unarmed civilian population that had the protection of no army whatsoever. Days before the war started, Arab radios talked about the preparations and readiness of the Arab armies to defend Arab land and defend Palestine. The Arabs have had encountered Zionist terrorism during the Nakba, less than 20 years earlier, and knew that these Zionists respected neither God-made nor human-made laws, but only their own laws of terror and destruction. One dreads to think of what would have happened had the Arab armies “not been prepared”! As their armies were being destroyed, their official radios were talking about the victory achieved, about their armies marching to Tel Aviv. During the Nakba, the Palestinians were not as well equipped as the Zionists but at least they had some means to fight and defend themselves, and many fought till the last bullet and the last breath, waiting for their Arab brothers to come to the rescue. This time, there were no guns, only few clashes here and there, some who managed to hide some weapon, or Palestinians who were serving in the Jordanian National Guard, or some soldiers who just couldn't stand still. In some areas, there were fierce clashes, like in Jerusalem. It was said that Jordanian troops fought the night long, but in the early morning gave up. “They sent people who didn't have any military training to defend Jerusalem. A friend said that her fiance, who was a ceremonial employee, was handed a gun and sent to the truce Line to fight the Israeli army. Did they expect him to survive beyond the first half hour of fighting? Many died on the barbed wire at the Truce Line. They were sent to fight against a well-trained and well-prepared army, one that was known for its brutality!” And when they were ordered to withdraw, those who had survived ran all the way to the Bridge. The areas to the east of Jerusalem witnessed the clashes between the Jordanian and the Israeli armies. “We could hear the sound of machine guns firing bullets consecutively, and then we would hear the single shots. We were no military experts, but the sounds and the state in which the Jordanian soldiers were in as they withdrew told us that the Israelis were the ones with the machine guns, and that the Jordanian soldiers most probably were using antique guns. We saw the Jordanian soldiers making their way in a group towards the Bridge. Their uniforms were shredded and some didn't have any weapons at all. They looked as if they had no idea what had hit them.” Many residents of these villages found refuge in the nearby caves and fields. And when they returned to their homes at the end of the war, they found Palestinian refugee from other areas of the West Bank hiding in their homes. They had been expelled from their homes, and were ordered to go to the Bridge, but some had hid in the empty houses on the way to Jericho.

Then, after the Arab armies had done their “duty” and left, days before the official end of the war was announced, the Israelis concentrated their efforts on mission “ethnic cleansing - part II”. The Palestinians were determined not to leave, even under the threat of guns, for there was no place for a second Nakba. There was a general pattern similar to that of the Nakba, and for the second time, the Zionists used various tactics to directly and indirectly force people out of their homes. People in many areas were gathered up and put on buses and sent to the Bridge. On the morning of June 7th, the Israeli army, accompanied with tanks, entered the 3 Latroun villages; Imwas, Yalu and Beit Nuba and began the process of ethnically cleansing them. They were emptied of their 10,000 inhabitants before being completely destroyed. Responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Latroun villages was the “Nobel peace prize” holder Yitzhak Rabin. Armoured military jeeps controlled the roads and with loudspeakers the villagers were ordered to gather their belongings and leave. Then, the soldiers entered the houses, one by one, threatened the villagers and forced them to leave. Some were beaten and tortured. After the villagers had left, the bulldozing of the houses began. Several eyewitnesses, including priests from the nearby monastery, testify to the fact that decomposed bodies were both seen and smelled in the villages, indicating that some houses were bombed or bulldozed over the head of their inhabitants. Amos Keinan, a former IOF soldier participating in the expulsion of the Latroun villages testified in a report of June 10th that: “We took positions at the entrance to the village in order to prevent people who were trying to return to their village from re-entering, and we shot bullets above their heads in order to move them away… with the blow of one bulldozer, the cypress and olive trees were uprooted. Within 10 minutes the house was in ruins, on top of the small number of items and property that were inside. After three houses were destroyed the first procession of refugees arrived from the direction of Ramallah, we didn't shoot in the air and the Arab speakers approached them to inform them of the orders. There were old people who could barely walk, old women, mumbling, babies in their mothers’ arms, young children. The children cried and pleaded for water, the procession raised white flags. We told them to go to Beit Sira. They said every place they went they were turned away, and they are not allowed to enter anywhere. That they had been walking for four days, without food, without water, and that a few of them had died. They asked to return to the village and said it would be better if we killed them”.4 Many villagers crossed the Bridge to Amman, others went to Ramallah, where they spent the first week in the bus station. Some 12 and 15 villagers returned to the villages, but until today their destiny is unknown. To continue the work of the IOF and cover up the war-crime, the Jewish National Fund built a park in their place; Canada Recreational Park. The fact that this park, built on the ruins of Palestinians lives and villages, is one of Israel’s favourite parks says volumes about Zionist “humanity”.

Stories of massacres, houses being bombed with their owners inside, destruction and looting, spread like fire. These stories and news of people from Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Qalqylia and other areas in Palestine expelled from their homes and making their way to the Bridge reached the camp, but the residents were determined not to be forced away again. One day, thousands of men in army uniform marched into the main street between Jerusalem and Hebron. Dheisheh residents didn't know what army this was. They didn't have flags, any tanks or anything to betray their nationality. “The Arabs were saying in the radio they are winning, so, a number of people went to the street to greet the marching soldiers. A few asked them what army they were. They told us they were the Iraqi army. To them it was a big joke, a victory that came so easy: a war against a people that had an imaginary army fighting an imaginary war. I don’t know if this can be called a war. A war is fought between 2 armies, and we had no army to protect us. They was no fighting, there were only Israeli air raids, bombs and destruction. They were not fighting an army, they were fighting us: unarmed civilians. When we realized that these were the Israelis, we waited for the worst. But for a few days, nothing happened and we thought that was it, and that at least this time we were spared a second expulsion. Later it turned out that even the Egyptian soldiers who had capitulated in Sinai, were mercilessly massacred by the Zionist troops. Then, some days later, the Israeli soldiers began their inhuman game. They came back to the refugee camp and started with the first row of houses. They would enter the houses and beat almost to death everyone inside. They didn't want huge massacres in residential areas as in the Nakba, for massacres won’t fit in their war propaganda and their claim they were “the ones under attack” and they were “only defending themselves”. When the soldiers had done their work and left, we went to see the houses. Blood was everywhere, on the walls, the doors, everywhere. There was nothing left that was not broken or destroyed, from mixing the flour with the sugar in the kitchen to breaking people’s bones in the living rooms. Everywhere we saw people crying, moaning, others just sat in a corner soaked in blood staring at some point in the wall in front of them, others lay faint in their own blood. They had beaten them almost to death, and stopped just before that. For some it looked as if it would have been more merciful if these Zionists had killed them, but no, they left them as a warning to the rest.” They had beaten them brutally and ordered them to leave or the next time they won’t be spared. That day, a row of trucks stood in front of the refugee camp, and people were uploading their families and their properties. That day, half the residents of Dheisheh made their way to the Bridge. They had lost their home for the second time, and for the second time the world watched and didn't move a finger. They had sworn not to be forced away again, and were determined to go back to their original villages. And for their children to be able to return to the original homes of their parents and grandparents, their children were to be kept alive, saved from the Zionists, who knew no mercy for a child or otherwise. None wanted to leave. “It is easy now to hear young people asking: why did you leave? We didn't think about our own lives, we wanted to spare our children. We survived the air raids and the bombing and refused to leave, but when they came and forced us out under threat of gun, we had to think of our children. We wanted only to save our children.”

The war was officially over on the eve of 10th of June. And on the night of 10/11th of June, Israel began the process of Judaizing East Jerusalem. The residents of the Mughrabi Quarter and Al-Sharaf neighbourhood were expelled, houses, shops and other buildings were bulldozed and the whole Mughrabi Quarter erased to expand the Jewish Quarter and make place for a Plaza for the Western Wall. Ethnic cleansing was underway in other Jerusalem neighbourhoods. “My friend from an East Jerusalem neighbourhood said that the Israeli soldiers would shoot at anyone looking from the window or anyone standing at the balcony. Then one day, they came and demanded over loudspeakers that all residents leave their houses and come to the main street. They all came down, men, women, children, the elderly. The stories of what happened during the Nakba were still fresh and people thought of Deir Yassin, Qafir Qasem and Qibia. Some were in their pyjamas, others were barefoot and the children clung to their parents. They were all made to stand in lines and told to walk all the way to the Allenby Bridge. The soldiers warned them of looking back. They walked all the way to the Bridge, not daring to look back. In other areas, people were put in buses by Israeli soldiers under the threat of guns and the drivers were ordered to drive directly to the Bridge and not turn back or go anywhere else. It was like the Nakba, exactly like the Nakba. They forced the residents under the threat of their weapons to leave their homes, leave their properties and leave the whole country.” Groups of people from other areas were also making their way to the Bridge.

An Israeli military order was given for the total destruction of Qalqylia and the expulsion of its residents, but the order was stopped on the 18th of July because of public pressure after the operation became known. But not before half of Qalqylia was destroyed: some 850 of the 2000 houses were destroyed and their residents expelled to Jordan. “In her Jerusalem Diary, Sister Marie-Therese wrote: At Nablus we saw hundreds of families under olive trees; they slept in the open. They told us they were from Qalkilya (sic) and were not allowed to go back. We went to Qalkilya to see what was happening; we received a sinister impression. The city was being blown up by dynamite.”[5] Beit Marsam, Habla, Al Burj, Jiftlik, Beit Awwa and others were also destroyed and their inhabitants expelled. “The village of Jiftlik on the Occupied West Bank of Jordan, with about 6,000 refugee inhabitants, has been completely destroyed by the Israeli army. During the last two weeks, army bulldozers have razed about 800 buildings there …..”[6] Jericho was a ghost city, and the 50,000 residents of the three large refugee camps: Aqbat Jabir, Ain Sultan and Nu’aimeh were either expelled or fled the Israeli terror. Expulsions were also carried out in Gaza. “The New York Times of 26 August 1967 reported that each day for the last weeks some 500 residents had left the Gaza Strip, adding that “Any reduction in Gaza area’s populations is a benefit to everyone in Israel’s view” … ”the Observer of 28 January 1968 also reported:” It is estimated that between 30,000 and 35,000 people have left the (Gaza) Strip as a result of the measures taken by the Israeli authorities.”[7]

Elsewhere, the same or similar scenarios were repeated. Military planes were shelling residential areas and roads, leaving dead and injured. They would fly low, hit and go up again, as group after group were expelled from their homes and made their way towards Amman. Napalm bombs were excessively used. One witness reported how the bodies that were hit with the bombs had melted, and some turned into a sort of gummy liquid. “We passed burning bodies, some had practically melted and little was left of them. We were so scared and tried to run and reach the Bridge before the planes came back”. Then, the Israeli army bombed the Bridge, so that the refugees were forced to leave the buses and cross the Bridge on foot. “They forced people to leave and then bombed the Bridge. People were on foot trying to escape the soldiers who were shooting at them and the planes roaming above them. They didn’t want those expelled to take their properties with them, and they didn’t want them to come back”. Many tried to return, but were faced with Israeli army patrols on the Jordan River, who didn’t hesitate to shoot at those trying to return to their homes. Some people paid money to pass the Jordan and get home, others swam, many were shot at and many disappeared without a trace. One Israeli soldier stated that: “We fired such shots every night on men, women and children. Even during moonlit nights when we could identify the people, that is… distinguish between men, women and children. In the mornings we searched the area and, by explicit order from the officer on the spot, shot the living including those who hid, or were wounded (again: including women and children).”[8]

Disappointed that no large-scale exodus took place like in 1948, and that the majority of the Palestinians were still steadfast in their lands, the Israeli government discussed ways to solve the problem of the population of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The answer was a “voluntary transfer”. Haim Hertzog, Israel’s former president proudly admitted that he “as the first Military Governor of the West Bank, efficiently organized and carried out, in cooperation with Shlomo Lahat, the Commander of Jerusalem, the operation of transferring 200,000 Palestinians from the West Bank in the immediate aftermath of the war.”[9] “This transfer operation had resulted in the total ”transfer of 100,00” (Palestinians to Jordan) without anybody saying a single word. A former Israeli soldier described the “voluntary” and “humane” aspects of this operation in a November 1991 interview with Kol Ha’ir: “My job was to take their (each Palestinian’s) thumb and immerse its edge in ink and fingerprint them on the departure statement … Every day tens of buses arrived. There were days on which it seemed to me that thousands were departing … although there were days those departees who were leaving voluntarily, but there were also not a few people who were simply expelled … We forced them to sign … When someone refused to give me his hand (for fingerprinting) they came and beat him badly. Then I was forcibly taking his thumb, immersing it in ink and finger printing him. This way the refuseniks were removed… I have no doubt that that tens of thousands of men were removed against their will”.[10] Even weeks after the war was over, the attacks on civilians continued. In many areas curfew was imposed, often for weeks, to be lifted only 4 hours a day. Men would be gathered, forced to sit under the sun the whole day, and several would be arrested. Thousands of houses were destroyed, and towns, village and refugee camps were besieged for weeks. The Palestinians were terrorized so they leave the Occupied Territories. In September 1967 Israel conducted a census in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and only those residing there at the time of the census were considered legal residents. “It is estimated that 60,000 West Bank Palestinians were abroad at the time of the war and so were not included in the census nor were up to 30,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem”.[11] These were prevented from returning home and their property was confiscated and made into state property. Jews were allowed to “reclaim lost property” in East Jerusalem, but Palestinians living in East Jerusalem who lost property in West Jerusalem in 1948 were not allowed to reclaim their property, which was still considered absentee property, although the owners lived in East Jerusalem. Some of the refugees were able to return after the war ended, but not the majority. Most ended up in Jordan and a few in Lebanon and Syria, many becoming refugees for the second time.

Israel claimed, and still claims that the war of 1967 was a “defensive war”, and that the “existence of Israel was threatened”, despite ample proof contrary to this claim and the many testimonies of some of those responsible for giving orders at the time and some of who participated. Speaking about the “Egyptian threat”, Menachim Begin admitted that: “In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him." [12] As for the Syrian threat: “Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, as Defence Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan …(said) many of the fire fights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland …. (Dayan stated) “They didn’t even try to hide their greed for the land…. We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractors to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was … The Syrians on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.”[13] During this so-called “defensive war” of 1967, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and Sinai. Of the 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Palestinian Territories before June 1967, some 400,000 were displaced during this second Nakba. Half of those displaced were refugees displaced in the Nakba of 1948. Similar to 1948, there were attacks on civilians, massacres, expulsion, destruction and looting and other atrocities and war crimes. Several villages in the West Bank (including Imwas, Yalu, Beit Niuba, Beit Marsam, Beit Awwa, Jiftlik and Al Burj), several refugee camps in the Jericho area, half of the city of Qalqilya and the whole of the Moghrabi Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem were depopulated and destroyed. In September 1967, Dayan suggested in a meeting that his colleagues tell the Palestinians: “you shall continue to live like dogs, and whoever prefers - may leave ….”[14] Today, Palestinians are still facing “voluntary” and “silent” transfer. Every day, the Zionist state comes up with new laws, orders and plans that aim at expelling Palestinians from their homes; directly as is the case with East Jerusalem and the area surrounding it, and indirectly through strangling Palestinians in their own homes and forcing them to leave. Not only are Palestinians steadfast in Palestine, but also the refugees among them, and those refugees scattered all over the world, still hold the keys to their homes in Palestine. I often heard Miriam talking about her village, and one day I heard her say: “I have only one home.” She was expelled from Jrash in 1948, and in 1967 she hid her kids in a cave and refused to leave with those who left to Jordan. Today, she lies in the graveyard near Rachel’s tomb. She did not return to her home, not yet, but her children and her grandchildren will one day return and rebuild her house in Jrash and hang her photo on its wall, so she might once again be at home.


[2] ebd.
[3] ebd.
[6] ebd.
[7] ebd.
[9] ebd.
[10] ebd.
[13] ebd.