West News Wire: Young Palestinians claim that Israel was founded at their expense and that the Nakba, or disaster, was an ongoing process of dispossession 75 years after Palestine was ethnically cleansed and Israel was founded by the Zionist movement.
When Israel was founded in 1948, more than 760,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes or forced to flee; this event is known as the Nakba by Palestinians, who commemorate it on May 15. It is observed as Israel’s “independence day” there.
Of the three million Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem 40% of whom are refugees from the regions that Israel annexed in 1948 are subject to almost daily killings, nightly military raids into their homes, arbitrary arrests, home demolitions, denials of residency, and theft of their property.
Due to a suffocating 16-year blockade, where Israel controls who and what is allowed to enter and exit, as well as at least six massive military operations that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children, the Gaza Strip, where about two million Palestinians reside, has been rendered uninhabitable.
Few Palestinians between the ages of 20 and 35 interviewed on the 75th anniversary of the Nakba to find out what they thought of the current situation and what they hoped for the future.
It’s very difficult to see their “independence” celebrations in Lydd. As someone living in a “mixed city”, you have Jewish neighbours, you know them, you work with them and study with them, but you see that there is something deeper here. They have taken your land, your country, killed your loved ones, and they are celebrating. They are celebrating our Nakba and our pain. This is how we live.
Nothing, including myself and my people, my grandmother and grandfather, can be acceptable or legitimate if it comes at the price of another people.
Lydd is currently characterised by extreme poverty, frequent violent crime and shootings, and tremendous discrimination that terrorises you because of who you are, your cause, and your nationalism, driving you completely away from this.
I believe that Lydd has a very low patriotic population. In Lydd, I believe there are systemic internal rules designed to make individuals forget who they are and what their purpose is. It concerns how I can provide food for my children today and safeguard them from the police and our neighbour who can shoot us. This is the situation in Lydd. It’s very difficult.
After the events of May 2021 [when historic protests erupted in which Palestinians across Israel and the occupied territories, and even refugees, mobilised and marked a turning point in Palestinian unity], there became a lot of political and national awareness. People began to realise that it is not by coincidence that there are so many killings in Lydd. They understood that this is part of a wider systematic policy against us as Palestinians.
In the recent years, there have been a few martyrdoms in the area. Mohammad Ghneim, 20, one of my closest friends died. Mohammad Salah, a 15-year-old boy, was also slain. They were both unjustly shot in the back. When they were killed, there were no altercations.
I reside at the top of a hill in Bethlehem’s Khader neighbourhood. There is a military checkpoint and the separation wall 66 feet (twenty metres) from our home. Every day, all day, the soldiers and their jeeps are there.
The troops are standing guard over the entire neighbourhood while I sit on the balcony with my family, and they are aiming their weapons at us. When youth are involved in conflicts, shock and tear gas grenades would fall into our balcony.
You witness the antithesis of what the state [Israel] promised you in terms of security, freedom, and expression. They don’t take action despite the fact that we have a lot of violence, including daily shootings and murders, and they frequently try to evict us. You experience a sense of alienation in your own home and country.
I believe that everyone has the right to live in freedom, and although they [Israelis] are welcome in our nation, it is not proper for them to have rights that would allow them to live on top of us and our territory.
They invade our territory, drive us off, and a few years later, you’ll see large, contemporary structures built for Jews in the places where our villages once stood. We see no equality. Just as Jews get security, homes, lands, jobs, we should get our rights as well.