Umm Ghadeer’s earliest memories are of the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948 in which about 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland after the creation of Israel. She was three years old. Last month she was forced to abandon her home all over again, fleeing Shejaiya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City, after the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas.
“I cried very hard because I relived the experience of displacement when we fled our homes in 1948. We fled. Some people were walking on the streets, some in cars, some screaming, some crying. We lost so many people,” she said. “So many awful things happened in 1948. I am now scared of the same thing.”
When Umm Ghadeer was a child, her family lived in Lydd, which in Hebrew is known as Lod, a small Arab town that was supposed to be part of the new Palestinian state in the UN partition plan that created Israel. In July of that year, however, Israeli forces occupied the town.
Almost all of Lydd’s inhabitants were expelled from their homes. About 60,000 people from Lydd and nearby Ramla were forced on to what is known as the death march to Ramallah; up to 170 people who sought shelter in Lydd’s mosque were massacred by Israeli soldiers.
Like many others, Umm Ghadeer’s family eventually found a new home in the Gaza Strip. Refugees and their descendants from what is now Israel represent 70% of the Palestinian territory’s population of 2.3 million. [Continue reading…]