- Title: MIDDLE EAST: Palestinians recall Nakba events.
- Date: 18th May 2011
- Summary: SIGN READING IN ARABIC AND ENGLISH "ARROUB DISTRIBUTION CENTRE" PEOPLE IN CAMP
- Embargoed: 2nd June 2011 13:00
- Location: Gaza
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: History,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAQ0Z4G4SXF7VOSR2I9TERNKGU
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Palestinians speak of their recollections of the "Nakba," or "Catastrophe," when Israel was founded in 1948 and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians became refugees.
Sixty-three years since the creation of the Israeli state, many Palestinian refugees who fled during the 1948 war are still living as refugees in camps in the West Bank and Gaza, with many of them surviving on handouts from the United Nations.
Many of the refugees still hope that one day they will return to the villages and towns they called home before 1948.
Fatma Aqel is 81 years old, she's now a resident of Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.
"I fled from Brir village during the fighting. They killed us in the village. We did not flee from the village they forced us to leave," said Fatma.
"When I left I was old, my daughter was three months old. I am not young. I worked in the lands of the village. I used to plant seeds and eat from it. I left the village when I was old," she added recalling the event in history which is also known as 'day of catastrophe' by thousands of Palestinians.
Palestinians mark "Nakba Day" on May 15, the day in 1948 when Israel declared statehood after which some 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled in the war that ensued.
Fatma's disabled husband also said the day will come when he will be able to return to his land that he once called home.
"I want to return to my village. I was born and raised in it. I've never forgotten it. Now I don't even own a small area of land to build on, but I used to own one hundred dunums," said Hasan Aqel.
For Palestinians also living in the West Bank they too hope that the day will come when they will be able to return home. Palestinian refugee Zeinab Jawabra is one of those people.
"Is there anything in the world that can be compared to your land and your house? If they built a building of many floors and if they give me all the countries in the world, I will never give up. Since '48 till now I carry this (key) and I say we will return. If not we will not return for sure our children and their kids will. We hope that we will be buried there in our land, not in other people's land," said the 78 year old clutching the key to her lost home.
Some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the war that led to the founding of Israel in 1948. About 4.5 million refugees and their descendants now live in squalid camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.
Most of the Gaza Strip's 1.5 million residents are either refugees or their descendants and live in eight densely populated camps and four cities.
Refugees cling to a "right of return" and their fate is one of the thorniest issues facing negotiators who are trying to reach a deal to create a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank -- land Israel occupied in 1967 Middle East war.
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