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The 76 Year Catastrophe

p-176

…By whatever name, they were heavily armed, well organized, and well trained. They set about getting rid of the non-Jewish population-first the British, through lynchings and bombings, then the Arabs, through massacres, terror, and expulsion…The first attack occurred on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, December 12, 1947. An explosion rocked the air and Dalia ran screaming from the cemetery. Hasan hurried home when he heard the blast. Not finding his wife, he raced towards the cemetery and met Dalia along the way. She threw herself into his arms, crying. “The Jews are coming! The Jews are coming!”

“God curse the Jews! A gang of them firebombed a house in al-Tira and fled to a truck waiting in the olive groves above the cemetery…” Less than two weeks after the incident at al-Tira, Palestinians were massacred in the nearby village of Balad-al-Shaykh…As news of more atrocities reached Ein Hod, the villagers were gripped with dread of what was advancing their way.

p-3111

In May 1948, the British left Palestine and Jewish refugees who had been pouring in proclaimed themselves a Jewish state, changing the name of the land from Palestine to Israel. But Ein Hod was adjacent to three villages that formed an unconquered triangle inside the new state, so the fate of Ein Hod’s people was joined with that of some twenty thousand other Palestinians who still clung to their homes…Finally a truce was reached and Win Hod sighed with relief. “We will prepare a feast as a gesture of friendship and our intention to live side by side with them…”

As the people of Ein Hod were marched into dispossession, Moshe and his comrades guarded and looted the newly emptied village.

p-3210

Serving his commission, the Swedish UN mediator stated, It would be an offense against the principles of elemental justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who had been rooted in the land for centuries.”

The Swedish UN mediator, Count Folke Bernadotte, was assassinated by Jewish terrorists.

p-341

“Damn those people,” a woman shouted in the crowd, “they didn’t need to kick us out of our homes. We let so many of them settle on our land. And we gave them olives from our harvest.”

The next morning, the refugees rose from their agitation to the realization that they were slowly being erased from the world, from its history and from its future…”If we must be refugees, we will not live like dogs,” it was declared.

…A man I recognized as our neighbour, Abu Sameeh, was digging frantically through a heap of rubble with his bloodied hands. He disappeared in a plume of smoke, then emerged with a small child in his arms and pierced my trance with a frightful howl of condensed irrevocability…There, on the rubble where his refugee’s shack had stood and where his family was buried alive, he stood on the threshold of an abyss and cried, his face deformed with agony and his voice charged with despair. Clutching his limp child in his arms, he arched his neck towards the heavens and released a hair-raising wail, a guttural surrender to his fate.

p-1216

Abu Sameeh was a refugee who had started life over after 1948. That Israeli campaign had taken the lives of his father and four brothers. He had married in the refugee camp, raised children, and supported his two widowed sisters. Like the rest of us, he looked forward to the return, when we would all go home. But in the end, the original injustice came to him again and took his entire family once more. There could be no starting over a third time. Nothing more of life was left to live.

p-352

I stood again, careful to peek without being seen. All I could see of the soldiers were their legs…They had bombed and burned, killed and maimed, plundered and looted. Now they had come to claim the land.

I learned later that Jamal’s life had ended as an “example”. Soldiers executed him in front of my brother and fifty others. Jamal was blindfolded, hands bound and kneeling, when an Israeli soldier put one bullet into the head of the boy who frequented our house daily, who played soccer in the dirt fields, and who called me ammoora-adorable…He was sixteen years old when he became an example.

As the conquest in 1948 did for Hassan, Israeli’s attack in 1967 and subsequent occupation of the West Bank left his son Yousef with a tentative destiny. The grip of Israeli occupation around his throat and would not let up. Soldiers ruled their lives arbitrarily. Who could and could not pass was up to them, and not according to protocol. Who was slapped and who was not was decided on a whim. Who was forced to strip and who was not-the decision was made on the spot.

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