The Palestinian village of Imwas, together with the villages of Yalu and Beit Nuba, were razed to the ground in the 1967 war. In the mid-1970s, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) used donations from its Canadian branch to establish Canada Park on the lands of the three villages. We spoke with Ahmad Abughoush, president of Lajnet Ahali Imwas (Imwas Society) about the plight of the village, the villagers, and their attempts to return home.
Education through Grassroots Arts and Culture in Bethlehem's Refugee Camps
“What use is it to remember now?”
When Would I Become a Bird?
When I was young, I used to imagine that I was a small bird flying from one place to the other and landing wherever I liked. I used to stand in front of the mirror and sing like a bird would do. I used to cut wings from paper, draw on my face to look like a bird, and stand on the bed attempting to fly to the ground. My grandfather, who used to feel he was a tree planted in the land, always told me: "Become a planted tree because the land is everything for the human being. The person who doesn’t have land is not a human being . If I were a tree, I would have stayed in Palestine." I used to tell him that I want to stay a bird and land on his shoulders. But he would yell at me saying: " Go away, you will break my branches. You are not a bird."
My grandfather passed away but I still felt like a bird. As I grew up, I started to realize that I could not be a bird because I am a Palestinian refugee. This meant I could not fly whenever I felt like because I had no land and eventually, I had no identity. I began to realize how important it was for a person to have a land in which he is implanted. But my land is there and I want to return to my land there, in Palestine. I want to return so that I would have an identity like my grandfather had before leaving Palestine.
I want to tell a story which happened 50 years ago. In February 1958, a child was born in Beit Jibreen Village, a Palestinian village 26 km north-west of Hebron. He was the first child born to his parents. Some months later, the war between Israel and the Arab states began. In the 1948 war, the village was attacked by Zionist military units and bombed by Israeli aircraft. By that time, Beit Jibreen already hosted many refugees from neighboring villages. The fighting and bombing frightened the people. they escaped the fighting and sought shelter in the surrounding hills. The family of the child found protection in a cave 5 km east of the village. they had left everything in their home, hoping to return after a few days when the attack would be over.
VOICES: PALESTINIAN WOMEN NARRATE DISPLACEMENT
Click here to Visit the Voices Archive online
I had my head on somebody’s lap, and I remember looking at the stars. The world seemed so big – like leaving your home which is small and structured, and going into the big wide world. It was very scary. But at the same time, as a little child, even then, looking at the sky and the stars, I was wondering what was going to happen.
Suad Andraos – exiled as a child from Jaffa
Palestinian Refugees stranded in and fleeing from Iraq
It is to everyone's dishonour that these human beings are still rotting in Al Tanf, in Al Walid, in Ruweished and -worst of all – in Baghdad where one or more is being murdered virtually every day. Rupert Colville, “Shame, How the world has turned its back on the Palestinian refugees in Iraq”, Refugees, No. 146, issue 2, 2007, p. 24.