The long road to Palestine, A prisoner in my home!

Lebanon War 1982

(This is part of my memoir I published successively on the pages of Countercurrents on the Zionist invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp.)

When the Zionist arrested us, we were put aside, and the rest of the people of the camp left.

Before my father left, he looked at me sadly, which made me feel a deep pain in my heart. I was despondent that I did not see my mother because I did not sleep at home that night, and I avoided thinking of her to avoid suffering. My father depended on me in the affairs of the house since I was the first child in the family who managed the matters in his absence, which taught me to be responsible at an early age…

My mother was a beautiful woman and usually calm. I had never seen her get angry with anyone. But she was always anxious, and always hiding her anxiety, especially in difficult circumstances.

Her face was as white as snow, and her hair was as red as her mother’s. Sometimes I would joke with my father and tell him that he was lucky to marry a beautiful woman like my mother.

My father married at first with my aunt, who died later, and was my mother’s sister. My mother’s sister is said to be one of the most beautiful women in the village. My mother told me more than once that her sister, who died, was more beautiful than her, and I told her: No, there is no more beautiful than you, and she was smiling.

My aunt got cancer, and they took her to the Russian Hospital in Nazareth and died there. That was before the Palestinian catastrophe in 1948when the Zionists displaced the people of Palestine and expelled 70 percent of the population. And destroyed more than 450 villages, in addition to emptying by force the cities from their residents, such as Haifa, Jaffa, Safad, Tiberius, etc.

My father was a temperament person, but he would calm down shortly after short anger. He was respected by the people because he was considered an upright man. He was also a brave man.

In the battle of Lubya, our village in Palestine, he, alongside others, fought the Jewish terrorist Hagana gang bravely when they attacked the town. The peasants in the city had few guns with little ammunition; some of the guns were from the First World War…

My father told me that he went to Jordan and bought fifty bullets all he found. At a time when the stores of the British army were open to the Jews. I asked him if fifty shots were enough to defend the village, and he said no, but we are strong because we protect our village and our family, and this is our strength against the Jewish terrorist gangs from Eastern European countries.

And now, I have become a father, and I know how much my family and other families suffered the pain of loss. I know how much my uncle suffered after the loss of his sons. The first was at the hands of the Lebanese militias, agents of Israel, and there is no grave for him.

He was the same age as me, and his wife was pregnant when he was killed. As for the second, he was a young man of eighteen years old, and I saw him an hour before the Zionist air raids, and I told him to be careful.

Every time I hear about a martyr in Palestine, I think of how painful it is to the family. A person spends his life raising a child to see him grow up. Then criminals, Zionist Jews from all over the world, come to kill him.

All this happened with European and American support, who was a partner in the crime. Britain brought them to Palestine and armed them, and the rest of the West supported them, by all means, to oppress us, which has continued until today.

The Palestinian people did not cause harm to the Jews. Europe killed the Jews. But the criminal Zionist Jews put themselves in the service of Western colonialism to steal our homeland and deprive us of living in peace in our country.

When we were on the bus, the question each of us was thinking about was where we were going. We were not allowed to speak a single word. The bus was silent, but our inner thoughts were not entirely.

When they tied my hand, the blood dripped from my tightly bound hands. A soldier came, speaking in the Moroccan dialect. I told him to relieve the cuff because it was bleeding. He shouted at me and said, “You son of a bitch, you terrorist.”

I thought of this paradox, what a strange world we live in! I am a teacher of literature and poetry, deprived of my homeland, and am the (terrorist) and he the criminal who came from far away and occupied my land is (the good man!!!)

A Chechen soldier came, and I asked him for the same request. He pointed to me with a movement of his hand to wait for the Jewish soldier to go. And indeed, he came and helped me ease the chains.

In the Galilee region, two villages of Chechen origin came to Palestine during the days of the Ottoman Empire after the failure of Prince Shamil’s revolution against the Russians. These people serve compulsorily in the Israeli army as the Arab Druze.

The bus arrived at the (Safa citrus factory), and we were distributed into several groups. The talk was wholly forbidden, so if we had to talk, we would whisper or speak in a low voice, especially when there were no soldiers close to us.

The place was an unbearable hell. I was hungry because I had not had any breakfast except for coffee in the house of Abu Saleh, who escaped arrest. The soldiers had taken everything from us, our identity cards, money, and everything.

Also, there was no toilet, and those who wanted to relieve themselves were taken to a nearby place open to prisoners. Also, there were no covers to sleep on, and we had to sleep without blankets, which was very annoying, especially at night when it was cold.

All the time, we could hear the screams of prisoners, screaming from the pain of torture. Or hear the cries of prisoners saying I am innocent.

While we were in this damned place, I saw there, not far, a man named Ibrahim Shaikh al-Dhia, which can be translated into (Ibrahim, the chieftain of the village) which is a nickname. He was sitting dilapidated from torture.

Ibrahim was a fisherman who owned many fishing boats. Out of his sympathy for the Palestinian resistance, he used to put Palestine flags on the fishing boats on Palestinian national occasions as a kind of show. I also heard that he was a friend to major Azmy, the commander of the western battalion in the PLO.

I heard that he was subjected to severe torture in this place. I do not know what happened to him after that, and I heard later that he was killed, and I do not know how accurate the news was.

While I was in this place, I wondered whether it was the right decision not to leave the camp toward non-occupied areas to escape this hell.

I know several who escaped immediately after the occupation, and one of them told me later that I had made the wrong decision to stay. I do not know what to say, and I think it is an individual matter, and each person has their view about it.

But if history is back, I would do the same I did and stay there with my people.

A soldier came and selected four people and me and placed us in a corner. While the others were put in buses and taken to occupied Palestine.

This naturally made me wonder why they took the others to Palestine while we stayed here. I decided to try to know the answer to this question.

I whispered to one of the prisoners near us and asked him what it meant that they put us here. He said, “This is a place designated for important figures among the detainees!”

This was terrible news because it meant that we would be much tortured. The Zionists may think we are leaders. Despite the extremely harsh situation, I exploded laughing in a low voice when I looked at one of us whom I know well. His job was taking care of the lemon field, and I joked with him, saying you are a general lemon. Later, he was beaten very much while shouting he was a farmer.

After some time, a Yemeni Jewish soldier arrived his ugly face looked like hell. We called him the devil, and he deserves this name. He took one of us to interrogation, his name was Salem, and he was a policeman. After about an hour. He came, and his eye was bleeding from torture, and he had lost sight in that eye.

He was in extreme confusion after the torture he had been subjected to. I asked him to tell us what had happened. He said he could not say anything because the criminal Zionist Abu Al-Nimir told him he would kill him if he talked about what happened.

After that, Abu Al-Nimir came again, took another person, and stayed there for more than an hour. And when he came back, his pants were torn and blood dripping from his feet. The fear was on his face in a picture I had rarely seen. And if Edward Monk, who painted the horror painting, saw it, he would probably produce some similar artwork.

We were three of the group who did not go to interrogation. I was scared and nervous, trying to pull myself together as firmly as possible, thinking about what I could do in this situation.

I had some psychology courses at the university, which helped me a lot to control myself in extreme conditions, especially since the Zionists use this science to destroy us from within.

After a short time, a soldier passed by, and one of them said he was a doctor. And although it was forbidden to move, I ran towards him. I told him that we had a man with us who had lost his eyes from torture and that the Geneva Convention forbids the torture of prisoners of war because we were considered prisoners of war.

The doctor came and saw our friend, who had lost his vision. He shook his head, indicating that he was not happy with this. Then left.

My friends were apprehensive and told me that what I did would lead that abo Nimir kills all of us.

I said if he came, I would tell him that I was the one who spoke to the doctor, and I would take responsibility. I told them that we were dead anyway and had to do something. Indeed, I mobilized all my psychological strength and began to chant in my heart songs of the Palestinian revolution of 1936 and the three heroes who were hanged in Acre.

Time passed with sharp intensity, and we expected every moment that Abu al-Nimir would come to torture the rest of us. When the night fell, I could not sleep from the expectation that the Zionist criminal would appear again. It was perhaps the longest night of my life. The following day we got up and then called to gather with others and came Buses to take us to occupied Palestine. They tied our hands again and blindfolded us, and we boarded the bus. I was relieved and said to myself, even if we are going to hell, good, we are away from this Zionist devil.

The buses began to move towards occupied Palestine. What a paradox! I am going for the first time to my country which the Zionist criminal deprived me from.  But as a prisoner and not as a free person.

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.


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