Those who pass between fleeting words
Take your names with you and go
Rid our time of your hours, and go
Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet
The occupation has become a fait accompli, and we had to face a new, bitter reality. Our situation has become like the situation in occupied Palestine. The priority for us is restoring everyday life despite the harshness of the situation. Because restoring life is a form of resistance. In the beginning, the Zionists did not dare to enter the camp.
They gathered young Palestinians in a Lebanese area near the camp tortured and arrested many of them. Then the Zionist patrols began to come daily to the camp. We saw them walking in one line for fear of attack, and their sight provoked feelings of enormous anger and hatred.
We looked at them and hoped that the ground would open up and swallow them up
Then they imposed a curfew inside the camp after seven o’clock in the evening. It was hard for a person to feel he is a prisoner in his home. But I used to break it and go stealthily to visit my closest neighbors. When I moved, the neighbors would warn me that a Zionist patrol had passed a short time ago.
I used to visit Muhammad, who was a UNRWA teacher. He was a kind man and often smiled with little talk. I would sneak out of my parents’ house to visit him. Then Abu Zeidan would join us.
Abu Zeidan was a funny person, and he was joking all the time as if there was nothing. We sit in front of the house but behind a wall away from the road and talk slowly.
At night it was the absolute horror. I use the word “horror” in all its meanings. If someone needs to cough, he does the coughing on the pillow for fear of making a sound.
At night when we heard the howling of the camp dogs, we know that Zionists are coming to arrest someone.
We could hear their voices speaking in Hebrew and screaming, as happened once when they came to arrest a neighbor. Their voices were disgusting. For us, it is the language of death.
I moved through internal roads even during the day, and the residents warned me if a Zionist patrol had passed from there. The Zionists would arrest anyone they meet on the road.
At this time, Beirut was being bombarded day and night by Zionist planes. Fierce battles were taking place in the Khalde area on the outskirts of Beirut, and the Zionist planes were using vacuum bombs to destroy buildings. Despite the barbarism of the Zionist bombing, the Zionist tanks were unable to advance because of the fierce resistance.
The news was very worrying. We believed that the Soviet Union might intervene to pressure Israel. But none of this happened. Israel got an American green light for invasion and killing, and it was carrying out this task with the highest rate of barbarism.
I spent most of the time with my friend Nazmi, who could no longer go back to the Arab Emirates to teach there as he was before the invasion. Also with his cousin Abu Saleh, the respected man who died a few years later and was working as a school guard in UNRWA schools.
Naif, the blacksmith, lives next to Nazmi house, where we used to meet in the daytime. Salam, a teacher, would come, and we would sit and play cards in an inner room for fear of making a sound.
Shaker, a Palestinian from the West Bank, was also with us and always warning us not to talk loud. I had many conversations with him about Marxist thought because we shared the belief in this thought.
Shaker’s wife was a resident of the camp, so he became a resident of the camp later. Later on, Shaker was arrested, and he remained for a year and a half in Ansar jail. But after the Oslo agreement between the PLO and Israel, he returned to the West Bank, where he is still there.
One of the situations that I will never forget is Abu Riyad, the owner of the largest store in the camp, which was destroyed.
I once saw him standing on the side of a road.
Nearby are boxes of tomatoes and fruits that he sells. Abu Riyad told me that no matter how much the Zionists destroy material things, they will never eliminate the Palestinian dream of liberation.
Abu Riyad passed away about a year ago. He was a proud Palestinian man. He always told us about his memories in Palestine. Sometimes he was silent as he remembered the young men of the village killed by the Zionists. They buried the martyrs in a cave, hoping to be buried later. But the Zionists expelled them from their village, and the martyrs remained in the cave, waiting a day for the uprooted Palestinians to come back home.
Salim Nazzal is a Palestinian Norwegian researcher, lecturer playwright and poet, wrote more than 17 books such as Perspectives on thought, culture and political sociology, in thought, culture and ideology, the road to Baghdad. Palestine in heart