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Palestinians are living a new Nakba: survivor of 1948 says

May 15, 2024 at 8:30 am

Palestinian woman Fatima Aqel, 75, on the outskirts of Jerusalem holds keys to one of the houses appearing in the background that her family was forced to abandon upon the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 on May, 7 2008 [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images]

Seventy-six years ago, Palestinian Mustafa Abu Awwad and his family were expelled from their home at the hands of Zionist gangs during the 1948 Nakba.

Palestinians use the word Nakba in reference to the events of 1948, when armed Zionist militias forced nearly one million Palestinians to leave their homes and villages under the pressure of bombing and mass massacres in the historical lands of Palestine, pushing them further into the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and neighbouring countries, ethnically cleansing historic Palestine to make way for the creation of the state of Israel.

Now 88, Mustafa lives in the Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarm city in the northern occupied West Bank.

He says Palestinians are experiencing a new Nakba that is worse than that of 1948.

Horrors of the Nakba

Mustafa describes his family’s life in Sabbarin village, near Haifa, in what is now northern Israel, as very beautiful days.

The family was expelled from the village on 12 May, 1948, Mustafa explains, in what he says was a “terrible day.”

“We took with us a small amount of luggage because we thought we would return back in a few days or weeks, but this turned out to be our entire life,” he explains.

“After one month, we decided to return back to the village but found it besieged by armed gangs which killed 18 of the youth from the village, so we escaped again from the killing,” he adds.

He notes that following their expulsion, his family resided in a camp established by a charitable group, known as the Lutheran World Federation, near Jenin where they stayed there until 1951.

READ: Number of Palestinians has increased 10-fold since 1948 Nakba

After that date, they moved to the Nur Shams refugee camp, where he still lives.

“We never expected to be refugees,” Mustafa laments.

“My family used to have a vast home, land, lots for olives and wheat, and four camels that we used to transport the wheat and agricultural crops,” he recalls.

He added that there were four water streams in Sabbarin.

“The village used to gather in all festivals and ceremonies, we used to solve our problems without courts, it was a simple life.”

A new Nakba

“The life in the camp is misery, Israel turned our life into a nightmare through the daily incursions into the camp.”

“What’s happening today is worse than what was committed in the 1948 Nakba,” he said.

Remember the Nakba, 74 years on - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Remember the Nakba – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Since October 2023, his home in the camp has been vandalised by the Israeli occupation forces during their incursions into the camp.

Nearly 500 Palestinians have since been killed and around 4,900 others injured by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied West Bank since October, according to the Health Ministry.

“76 years passed but we still say ‘relief is near’, and the right of return must be realised,” Mustafa says.

“The Palestinian refugee teaches his sons that they had original land and a hometown for their grandparents, and they must return to them.”

He noted that in the 1970s, he and his sons visited the village and found the site on which his family home had once stood and ate from its fig trees.

“My dream is to return there, to die there, and have my burial there under the soil of my village,” Mustafa says.

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