Nakba memories and resistance: The right of return remains in refugee diaries

Special Nakba memories and resistance: The right of return remains in refugee diaries
A demonstrator participates in clashes with the Israeli forces following a rally marking the 74th anniversary of Nakba or catastrophe, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 15, 2022. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 May 2022

Nakba memories and resistance: The right of return remains in refugee diaries

Nakba memories and resistance: The right of return remains in refugee diaries
  • Palestinian cause ‘alive and growing’ in Gaza camps, researcher says

RAFAH, GAZA STRIP: Abu Ahmed Adwan was five when his family was forcibly displaced during the Nakba in 1948. They sought refuge in a camp in the city of Rafah, adjacent to the Palestinian-Egyptian border in the far south of the Gaza Strip.

Adwan grew up in the alleys of the Barbara camp, which got its name from the original village that was abandoned by the Adwan family and other families that settled together.

“We were neighbors in Barbara before the Nakba, and here we are in the camp until the return,” Adwan, now in his late 70s, told Arab News.

Today he is the mayor of his village (the chief of the refugee families from the village of Barbara), and despite spending his life as a refugee, he still believes in the right of return.

“We will return one day, and if we pass away, our children and grandchildren will return and rebuild the country.”

Estimates by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees show that the number of refugees in the Rafah camp grew from 41,000 in 1948 to more than 125,000 today. Residents in one of the largest camps in the Gaza Strip live in overcrowded houses in narrow streets. In Gaza, refugees represent more than 70 percent of the population of almost two million people.

Adwan uses a large map of the village of Barbara, which tops one of the walls of his meeting hall in his home, to describe the village he visited for the last time about 35 years ago.

He classifies his constant talk of Barbara, and the refugee stories linked to the memory of the Nakba, as a “kind of resistance” in order to keep the memories of past generations alive and encourage the restoration of stolen rights.

He said: “Today’s generation is more aware than their parents and grandfathers than the generation of the Nakba, and the experience of the Nakba in 1948 cannot be repeated again.”

Mohammed Adwan, born in 1970, is a freed prisoner of an Israeli jail. He said: “The camp is the storehouse of the revolution since the Nakba, and the fathers and grandfathers are its fuel by constantly talking about Palestine with all this nostalgia.”

He added: “We will return sooner or later.”

Adwan said that refugee camps play a role in “resisting the occupation, forming the awareness of successive generations and preserving the national memory.”

He added: “It was important to preserve the names of our original towns and villages, by calling them to the refugee camps, as this is a resistance to the factors of time, and the occupation’s efforts to falsify reality and distort Palestinian geography.”

The growing population in the camp led to mixing with city neighborhoods. Simple houses built from brick and roofed with asbestos have largely disappeared, replaced by concrete houses.

A researcher in refugee affairs, Nader Abu Sharekh, said that stories told in the homes of the camps, generation after generation, have made the Palestinian cause “alive and growing.”

The families of each village and city destroyed in the Nakba gathered in neighborhoods inside the new camps to draft names. They used original names from their homeland, out of love for the land and adherence to the right of return, and to keep the names and meanings present in memory. In each camp there are streets bearing the names of original homes.

“In the camp, the events of the Nakba are present, and the right of return is an absolute belief,” Abu Sharekh said.

“In wedding parties, they sing historic songs from before the Nakba like Ataba, Mijna, Dabke and Dahia.

“These traditions remained in circulation, so that the homeland remains a title to joy, and the right of return remains in the refugees’ diaries.”

In the camp, old women still wear traditional dress rich in color.

People have allotted part of their yards to plant something that reminds them of their lost orchards and farms. Sometimes the space is used to construct a hut or tent.

Some of the refugees still bake using traditional clay ovens modeled on the kind lost in their destroyed towns and villages.


Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account
Updated 6 sec ago

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account

Jordan’s King Abdullah pledges to hold those responsible for chlorine explosion to account

Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called for those responsible for the deadly gas leak on Monday to be held accountable.

At least 13 people were killed and 250 were taken ill when a chlorine tank exploded at the Red Sea port of Aqaba, when a crane dropped it, releasing a large plume of toxic yellow smoke.

The king “stressed the need to provide transparent explanations to the public after investigations conclude, as well as identifying shortcomings and holding those responsible to account by law,” the palace said in a statement. He also offered condolences to victims' families.

Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh visited the site Tuesday and, citing civil defense and environmental authorities, said the gas concentration in the area had returned to normal. He said that most movement at the port had resumed, except for the exact site of the incident which was being cleaned and inspected.

Al-Khasawneh said many of those in hospitals were being discharged.

A government spokesman, Faisal Al-Shboul, told state media that eight of the dead were Jordanian and five were foreigners. Among the injured were Chinese and Vietnamese nationals, hospital officials said.

Video carried on state TV showed the moment the tank exploded, sending dockworkers scrambling to escape the toxic cloud. Some 200 people were hospitalized.

The Public Security Directorate, which initially described it as a gas leak, said authorities sealed off the area after evacuating the injured and sent specialists in to address the situation.

State-run Jordan TV said 13 people were killed. Al-Mamlaka TV, another official outlet, said 199 were still being treated in hospitals. The Public Security Directorate said a total of 251 people were injured.

Aqaba is on the northern tip of the Red Sea, next to the Israeli city of Eilat, which is just across the border. Both are popular beach and diving destinations.

Eilat’s emergency services said in a statement that there was no impact on the city but that they were following the situation closely.

(With AP)


US must ditch ‘Trump method’ in nuclear talks, says Iran

US must ditch ‘Trump method’ in nuclear talks, says Iran
Updated 8 min 17 sec ago

US must ditch ‘Trump method’ in nuclear talks, says Iran

US must ditch ‘Trump method’ in nuclear talks, says Iran
  • Iranian officials said they were hoping for progress in Qatar talks
  • The indirect talks come two weeks before US President Joe Biden's official visit to the region

DOHA: Iran warned the US to abandon the “Trump method” on Wednesday after the two sides opened indirect talks to revive a nuclear deal that was torpedoed by the former American president.
But Iranian officials said they were hoping for progress in the talks in Qatar, which come after international meetings to return to the deal hit a roadblock.
Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief in 2015, before then US president Donald Trump pulled out of the deal three years later.
“We hope that, God willing, we can reach a positive and acceptable agreement if the United States abandons the Trump method,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori-Jahromi said.
He described the “Trump method” as “non-compliance with international law and past agreements and disregard for the legal rights of the Iranian people.”
The indirect talks — with the rival delegations sending each other messages from different parts of the same hotel — come just two weeks before US President Joe Biden makes his first official visit to the region, with Iran high on his agenda.
Soaring oil prices and the lack of spare capacity could also make this an opportunity for Tehran to push for the lifting of sanctions on Iranian crude, said Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran program at the Washington-based Middle East Institute think tank.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Iran was open to a deal in Doha, but wouldn’t cross its “red lines.”
“We are serious” in our desire to finalize an agreement, he said, stressing that his country would not retreat from the “red lines” it has drawn.
“If the American side has serious intentions and is realistic, an agreement is available at this stage and in this round of negotiations,” he said, quoted by IRNA state news agency.
IRNA has previously described the “red lines” as lifting all sanctions as related to the nuclear agreement, creating a mechanism to verify they have been lifted, and making sure the US does not withdraw from the deal.
The indirect negotiations headed by US special envoy Robert Malley and Iran’s Ali Bagheri come after more than a year of European Union-mediated talks in Vienna on a return to the 2015 agreement.
The deal gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program to guarantee that Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon — something it has always denied wanting to do.
It has been hanging by a thread since 2018, when Trump unilaterally withdrew from it and began reimposing harsh economic sanctions on America’s arch-enemy.


Syria seizes record 2.3 tons of captagon: ministry

Syria seizes record 2.3 tons of captagon: ministry
Updated 29 June 2022

Syria seizes record 2.3 tons of captagon: ministry

Syria seizes record 2.3 tons of captagon: ministry
  • Ten arrests were made and several vehicles confiscated in the crackdown

DAMASCUS: Syrian counter-narcotics units seized a record haul of 2.3 tons of the amphetamine-type stimulant known as captagon, the interior ministry announced Wednesday.
Law enforcement officers had earlier discovered 249 kilos of captagon hidden in steel machinery inside containers ready to leave the Mediterranean port of Latakia.
The ensuing investigation alerted the authorities “to the existence of a warehouse containing drugs on a farm” in the nearby province of Hama, a ministry statement said.
“The weight of the confiscated bags amounted to 2,103 kilos,” the statement said, adding that 10 arrests were made and several vehicles confiscated.
With a kilo of captagon estimated to amount to around 6,000 pills, the cumulated number of pills seized tops 14 million, the largest recorded haul by the Syrian government in years.
Several recent reports have accused senior members of President Bashar Assad’s government and security apparatus of being at the heart of the booming captagon trade.


Turkey to seek extradition of 33 suspects from Finland, Sweden

Turkey to seek extradition of 33 suspects from Finland, Sweden
Updated 29 June 2022

Turkey to seek extradition of 33 suspects from Finland, Sweden

Turkey to seek extradition of 33 suspects from Finland, Sweden
  • Extradition sought under a deal that paved the way for Ankara to back the Nordic countries’ NATO membership bids

ITANBUL: Turkey said Wednesday it would seek the extradition of 33 “terror” suspects from Sweden and Finland under a deal that paved the way for Ankara to back the Nordic countries’ NATO membership bids.
“We will seek the extradition of terrorists from the relevant countries within the framework of the new agreement,” signed on Tuesday by the foreign ministers of Turkey, Sweden and Finland, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was quoted as saying by NTV television.


Israel accuses Hezbollah of trying to hack UN Lebanon peacekeepers

Israel accuses Hezbollah of trying to hack UN Lebanon peacekeepers
Israel has accused Hezbollah gunmen of setting up clandestine positions at the border in defiance of UNIFIL. (File/AFP)
Updated 29 June 2022

Israel accuses Hezbollah of trying to hack UN Lebanon peacekeepers

Israel accuses Hezbollah of trying to hack UN Lebanon peacekeepers
  • The allegation — to which there was no immediate response from Beirut, Tehran or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) — came as Israeli-Iranian tensions soar

JERUSALEM: Israel accused the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah on Wednesday of conducting a cyber operation designed to disrupt a UN peacekeeping mission on the border between the countries, and threatened harsh Israeli retaliation against enemy hackers.
The allegation — to which there was no immediate response from Beirut, Tehran or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) — came as Israeli-Iranian tensions soar.
In what he termed a first public disclosure of the incident, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said “Iranian security institutions in cooperation with Hezbollah (recently) launched a cyber operation with the aim of stealing materials about UNIFIL activities and deployment in the area, for Hezbollah’s use.”
“This is yet another direct attack by Iran and Hezbollah on Lebanese citizens and on Lebanon’s stability,” he told a cyber conference at Tel Aviv University, without elaborating.
Established in 1978, UNIFIL patrols Lebanon’s southern border. It is charged with monitoring the ceasefire that ended the last war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
Israel has accused Hezbollah gunmen of setting up clandestine positions at the border in defiance of UNIFIL. Lebanese officials say Israel continues air force overflights of their territory in violation of the cease-fire.
Gantz said an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps cyber unit called “Shahid Kaveh” had “conducted research to damage ships, gas stations and industrial plants in several Western countries including Britain, the US, France and Israel.”
Britain’s Sky News reported similar allegations last year, saying the Iranian embassy in London had not responded to them.
Gantz hinted that Israel — which is widely believed to have waged cyber war against Iran’s nuclear facilities and other infrastructure — may retaliate physically against enemy hackers.
“We know who they are, we target them and those who direct them. They are in our sights as we speak — and not just in the cyber-space,” he said. “There is a variety of possible responses to cyber-attacks — in and outside of the cyber-domain.”