For Palestinians, Return Out of Question

Driven away from their homes by Israeli forces sixty years ago, Palestinian refugees are still aspiring for a return to the lands that were once theirs in what is now Israel.

For Palestinians, Return Out of Question

"We will never give up," Abdelrahman al-Mabhuh told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Saturday, March 31.

"They (Israelis) chased us away from our paradise and we have since fought for our return," he added.

Mabhuh is one of about 760,000 Palestinians who fled or were driven away from their homes by Zionist gangs in the months before and following the creation of Israel in May 1948 on the rubbles of Palestine.

The 85-year-old, who grew up in the today-vanished village of Batani just a few kilometers (miles) away from the Gaza Strip, is now living in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the impoverished strip.

The refugee camp is today the biggest Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East, where over 106,000 people live in density and squalor.

Like thousands of Palestinian refugee families, Mabhuh has kept the key to his Batani home, a symbol of his desire to return and of the Palestinian national cause.

"The Israelis will be defeated and chased off our country. I saw it in a dream, it will happen in 11 years," he stressed.

Almost 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants live today in dozens of refugee camps across the Middle East in precarious conditions.

Israel vehemently rejects any suggestions of a return for the Palestinian refugees, arguing the influx would effectively erase the Jewish character of the state.


Almost 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants live today in dozens of refugee camps across the Middle East in precarious conditions.(Reuters)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that the return of any Palestinian refugee was "out of the question".

"I'll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel, any number," he told the Jerusalem Post English-language daily.

But the Palestinian view the right of return as sacred in solving the decades-old conflict.

"We Will Return"

Latifa al-Hilu still keeps a vivid image of her home in the village of Beit Jirja where today stands inside Israel.

"It was a beautiful two-storey house," recalled the old woman.

"My father fell sick when he heard that it was destroyed after we left. We lived there comfortably with the income from our fields. Today we live on humanitarian aid, but we will return one day," she promised.

Her neighbor, 40-year-old Suheila al-Taluli, also vowed that she or her grandchildren will make a comeback.

"Nothing in this world will make me give up my right of return," averred Suheila, whose grandparents lived before the 1984 war in the village of Dimra, not far from Batani.

"Jabaliya is not my home. Home is the village where my parents and grandparents were born and sooner or later we will return."

"My grandmother told me before she died many stories about her village. She would often break down in tears from the memories and pain," she said.

"She raised her children on love of the cause. One of them died as a martyr and others are today in Israeli prisons."

On Foot

According to UN estimates, there are 1.85 million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, 442,363 in Syria and 408,438 in Lebanon, in a total of 95 camps.

"In 1948 I fled my village on foot," said Umm Aziz who fled her native village of Sheikh Daoud.

The 76-year-old woman is now living in the refugee camp of Burj al-Barajneh, south of Beirut.

The old woman was one of thousands of Palestinian refugees who marked the Land Day on Friday.

During the ceremony, the Palestinian refugees marched, carrying the keys of their houses and documents of property ownership.

"I know I would go on foot if I had the chance to go back," she stressed.

Since her fleeing after the creation of Israel, Umm Aziz's life has been a series of tragedies.

Her four sons went missing on September 17, 1982, a few days after a massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Her husband was killed in a shelling in 1986, at the height of the Lebanese civil war.

But her ordeal started much earlier. She said her mother and father were killed in an Israeli shelling of their native village.

"If I had the power to see the future and know that four of my sons would be taken from me, and that my husband would be killed in a mortar attack, I would have preferred to stay behind and be killed with my parents," said the tearful woman.




Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16