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"I’ve seen the Nakba with my own eyes in 1948 and now I see it again"

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Opinion Marginalized Groups History

Wednesday 15 November 202303:13 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

"قالوا لنا عام 1948 نحن ذاهبون كي نحاربهم، ونعيد لكم البلاد"


The calamities and massacres continue day after day in Gaza and Palestine. We're living through an organized and systematic war of extermination time and again, and the latest is what is happening in Gaza, a Zionist war that is criminal by all standards.

History repeats itself, from 1948 up to today, each date and battle etches into the history of the Palestinian people. The geography of their displacement varies, and each exile has its own Nakba (catastrophe), its own unique tale, from the tragedy of seeking refuge in camps to the harrowing escape and savage aggression being done to them in their own homeland.

Statistics regarding the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp indicate that the majority of those who lived through the Nakba have already passed away. A few, like grandma Ghazala, born in 1936 in the village of Saffuriyya (Sepphoris), are still here to tell their story

In the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, specifically in the Nahr al-Bared camp, many witnesses live, witnesses who've seen these Nakbas and massacres happen and pass through the generations. The first generation of the 1948 Nakba, those who survived, still remember its harrowing details like it was yesterday – How did it happen? And what did they go through during and before their forced departure?

Statistics regarding the population in the camp indicate that the majority of those who lived through the Nakba have passed away. A few, like grandma Ghazala Hussein Abdul Rahim – an 87 year-old, born in 1936 in the village of Saffuriyya in Al-Nasirah (Nazareth) – are still here to tell their stories.

"When they came, I remember it was the month of Ramadan. We were breaking our fast when we suddenly heard the roar of planes above us. Three family members were killed in front of my eyes by an Israeli airstrike" – Grandma Ghazala recounts her story of the Nakba

While speaking with Raseef22, Hajja Ghazala recounts, "We were in the village of Saffuriyya (Sepphoris), living in peace and safety. I was just 9 years old. Our village embraced a culture of hospitality – we loved all people and guests. When the Jews came, I remember I was fasting, and that it was the month of Ramadan. We were gathered in the courtyard under the grape vine, breaking our fast. Suddenly, we hear the roar of planes above us. They entered our village. Our house was right by the mosque. Three family members were killed in front of my eyes by an Israeli airstrike. Then my brothers told my father: 'We need to leave; it looks like the Zionists have invaded the country.' My father refused to leave, saying he will not abandon his land. It was my eldest brother who insisted, arguing with my father until he relented, so we left in a hurry without taking anything from the house. We just fled. My father only brought his cloak with him, dragging me and my brothers Ahmad, Mohammad, Hassan, and Abu al-Mahdi. Abu al-Mahdi was only three months old."

"My father kept telling us, 'Be strong, be strong', as we sat by his side until he took his last breath. My father died before our eyes. We began to cry, saying, 'We should bury him in Palestine, not here. How can we dig a grave for him here in this foreign land?' I will never forget how my father would always say, 'When I die, take me back to Palestine, bury me there. I want to die in Palestine', but he was buried by a lake in Lebanon"

She continues, "We were just kids, holding onto our father's cloak and crying as we fled. On the way, we met the Iraqi army. They told us, 'Don't cry; we are going to fight them and return the country back to you.' We told them, 'Insha'Allah', and continued walking until we reached Naqoura, in south Lebanon. In Kafr Kanna, we saw the farmers working with wheat, and we went and sat among the olive trees and asked for food. My father had some money in his pocket. He went and bought us food, a pot, and a brass tray for the dough. We sat under the olive tree, and my mother started kneading and preparing bread for us. After that, they moved us to Qaraoun in the Bekaa. We sat near the river, and they started bringing us hummus. My father got sick with a strong fever. We moved to another room with my brothers so he could sleep. I was the only girl among them. My mother told my father to sleep facing the Qibla to get better. His parting advice to us was: 'Be strong, be strong,' as we sat by his side."

She tearfully recounts, "We kept looking at him until he turned his face away and took his last breath. My father died before our eyes. We began to cry for him, saying, 'We should bury him in Palestine, not here. How can we dig a grave for him here?' I will never forget those days from the time of the Nakba. My father would always tell us, 'When I die, take me back to Palestine, bury me there. I want to die in Palestine.' But my father was buried in Qaraoun in the Bekaa. After that, they transferred us to the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, where makeshift nylon tents served as our homes."

"The Nakba has been ongoing this whole time, not just 1948, and not just since October 7. It has never stopped. This is an ongoing genocide, and the Arabs are still silent. They haven't done anything as we are slaughtered daily" – Nakba survivor Hajja Ghazala

"The Nakba has been ongoing since 1948, not just since October 7th. It has never stopped."Hajja Ghazala expresses her opinion on the current plight in Gaza, saying: "The brutal aggression on Gaza today is a horrifying Zionist crime. May God protect the people. This Zionist occupation keeps committing atrocities and we must resist and fight it. What wrong did the children, women, and the elderly do to be killed like this? When I watch the heartbreaking scenes on television, I can't help but cry and turn it off. This is an ongoing genocide. And the Arabs are still silent. They haven't done anything, as we are slaughtered on a daily basis."

In contemplating a return to Palestine and its liberation, she expresses a profound longing, "I would be very happy, I will return to Palestine, and I will die in our land. Every day, I pray for the people of Gaza: O Lord, grant the people of Gaza victory, so that we can rejoice with them in our liberation, and dance the Palestinian Dabke on our land."

Hajja Ghazala stands tall like an olive tree as she recounts the story of the land, carrying a connection to the very soul of Palestine. This woman witnessed the Nakba with her own eyes, and to this day, witnesses the same scenes in Gaza, West Bank and Jerusalem

The story of Hajja Ghazala, like many others, is that of a witness to the massacre and a survivor. Her recollections are not just historical accounts but living memories that continue to hold the essence of that tumultuous period. She is 86 years old, still dreaming of returning to her village of Saffuriyya, to the same house and the same road, because the land is like a mother embracing her children; it radiates warmth and nostalgia. Hajja Ghazala stands tall like an olive tree as she recounts the story of the land, a history full of details, memories, and places. She carries the scent of Palestine, and a connection to the very soul of the land. This woman, who witnessed the Nakba with her own eyes, still to this day, witnesses the same scenes in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, but this time from a distance and through the TV screen.


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22



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