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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May-June 2008, pages 28-29

Voices of the Nakba

Nakba Oral Histories

As told to Isabelle Humphries

Death Among the Olive Groves

  • The rubble of destroyed homes of the village of al-Mujaydil can be seen in the foreground (Photo Isabelle Humphries.)

THE ATTACK on al-Mujaydil, home to over 2,000 Palestinians, began from airplanes and killed a number of people. Before the main village was taken, some days earlier, the outlying hamlet of Dar al-Tawil was attacked and occupied. The inhabitants fled to the main village.

[T]hey got into these eight houses [in Dar al-Tawil], kicking the doors in and throwing bombs inside. But the people...had gotten out a day before and come to al-Mujaydil, so no one was killed. They destroyed the houses and occupied it...

One of the inhabitants of these eight houses would ride his mare every day to go to the hill opposite Dar al-Tawil to observe his house from above...They [the Jewish forces] kept watching him, and the next day he came they shot him...in his head, in his forehead and he died there...

The day the tanks entered...al-Mujaydil, there were people who thought it was the Jaish Al Inqadh [Arab army], because we were waiting for Jaish al Inqadh assistance. And there were lots of people who were caught by surprise and killed on the streets there....

[That] day, my uncle Abed Abbas was leaving al-Mujaydil, but they had already exploded a small bridge on the roadway facing the Balfour Woods. He stopped...to move the stones off the road, but they had...set an ambush and they killed him...

  • The Jewish National Fund’s Balfour Forest occupies what once was village land. (Photo Isabelle Humphries.)

My grandfather stayed to be the last one in al-Mujaydil....My grandfather had been a soldier in Ottoman times...and was experienced in how to use weapons and to hide and move from place to place. He kept fighting and resisting this tank till the sun went down...we assumed he was dead, and that he would never come [back]...but after the sun went down he got to the village of Jaffa through Wadi Ghamiq at 10 o’clock at night. He did not know that his son was killed, and that we had buried him in Jaffa.... And he was the last one to leave al-Mujaydil.

So the people of Mujaydil were forced to flee...While we were escaping there was shooting at us. Of those who escaped through the main road to Nazareth...four or five young men were killed and wounded....

Some other people stayed in their hideaway.... a great number of them were killed in the olive groves...

The old people and children who couldn’t run away and escape...hid in the Latin monastery till the next day, [when] the army vehicles arrived and took them and let them down on the edge of Nazareth.

We heard that the old men and women who could not leave the houses and didn’t get to Nazareth—after a period of time their families crept into al-Mujaydil and found them dead, killed in the houses.

And from that time they sealed off al-Mujaydil and not one of the people was allowed to enter... 


Nimr Khatib, who was born in 1930 in al-Mujaydil village in lower Galilee, today lives as an internal refugee 6 kilometers away in Nazareth, the only Palestinian town remaining inside Israel. Despite having Israeli citizenship, internal refugees, just like those outside the borders, have been prevented from returning to their land and homes.

Because They Wanted the Land

  • Refugee Hussein Mubaraki lives five kilometers from his native village of al-Nahr, to which he is not allowed to return (Photos Isabelle Humphries.)

I AM FROM al-Nahr, in the district of Akka, a village of 420 people. The village was 6,000 dunams (1,500 acres), including a river. It was a village rich in water, with fertile lands. Every day we had a wagon full of oranges, lemons and other produce which would go out to the cities, to Akka and Haifa.

In 1948 we did nothing...[yet] in al-Nahr they killed children...my brother was one of them—he was one year old. And also old people... sick people.

Why did they do that? Because they wanted the land...

Before 1948, the Jewish town of Nahariya existed and there were no problems between us—we were neighbors. When the war came it changed; after that there were many Jews in the military, and they had weapons...Because of that people were frightened.

In al-Nahr—I saw them kill two people with my own eyes. I was 17...

We fled to Abu Snaan village...no, first we went to Tarshiha—then they hit Tarshiha with planes—and we came here...Just two or three families from our village found shelter here, not more... the rest are in Lebanon.

Palestinians remaining inside Israel were put under military rule from 1948 to 1966:

Military rule was like this: they made the military rule so that when we came from al-Nahr to here we couldn’t go [back] there—it was a military zone....So that people couldn’t go. If people went they would put them in prison. If you entered the military zone...that’s what happened. In order to take the land...

One day in 1949 the army came to the shelter village...and took the refugees—they put them in trucks—they went to the houses [to take them]. They made an iron fence—and put them there. My father and mother were also put in there, but the mukhtar of Abu Snaan came and talked with the captain and they were let out. But the other people—they sent them out [to Jordan].

In Kafr Yasif some people tried to resist this expulsion. When they put the people in the army trucks they came out and lay down in front of the trucks to prevent them from sending the people away...[But it was to no avail—700 were expelled] 


Hussein Mubaraki, born in 1930 in al-Nahr village, Western Galilee, today lives as an internal refugee five kilometers away, in Abu Snaan village.

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