Beit Iksa… My village


Just 5 miles away from the heart of Jerusalem, my besieged village has been converted to a concentration camp, where villagers are entrapped with only one access to the outside world, through an international-border-like checkpoint. The original road which connected Beit Iksa to Jerusalem through Beit Hanina has been permanently blocked, No one is allowed to enter except people from the village.

There is about 1200 people living in Beit Iksa, on an ever shrinking land due to military confiscation, but the vast majority (estimated 10000) are still living in exile, prevented from returning home by the Jewish-Zionist occupation.

The village was attacked in 1948, forcing the villagers out into refugee camps, leaving the old village centre completely destroyed, while the looting and burning the rest.

The villagers were able to return back to their half destroyed village after cease fire in 1949. My mother at the time was seven years old.

In 1967, a war to which I was an eyewitness, aged also seven years old, my village was ethnically cleansed for the second time, but this time those of us who evacuated in search of safety were never allowed back.

As the village was under heavy bombardment, the villagers with their fresh memories of the echoing cries of slaughtered families of Deir Yassin, panicked and started fleeing in all directions.

A group of families ended up in a nearby village, Beit Duqou, where we were kept for six days, in what I thought to be an underground shelter – only to find out 35 years later that it was a big tomb in the village grave yard.

My father who was in Syria at the time, sitting his final exams in Law School, was unable to cross the borders to be with us. The borders were open only in one direction, people were allowed, helped and encouraged through loud-speakers to leave Palestine for their own safety.

Searching for a place of safety for her five children, my young mother, alone, frightened and unable to feed or protect her children decided to join my father and to take us to a place of safety until war was over.

It has been forty six years since then, we are still waiting to go back home.

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The checkpoint of Beit Iksa, looks more like a concentration camp entrance

Beit Iksa used to have one road, which also used to connect the village to Jerusalem… It has been permanently closed for at least four years now.

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My village was ethnically cleansed and partially destroyed in 1948

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Grandfather’s bakery

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My great grandmother’s house

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My head was stuck between those rails when I was 2 years old
I tried again but I couldn’t fit my head in this time

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The home of my childhood

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My paternal grandmother’s house

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My maternal grandmother’s house

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A tour in the village

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Seventy years ago, my village was a thriving, self-sufficient, organic, peaceful village.

Seventy years ago, my village which was once peaceful and totally self-sufficient, thriving on sustainable organic agriculture is reduced now to a concentration camp, deprived of basic survival rights. dependent on food aid from UNRWA

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The view overlooking the hills, where Deir Yassin once stood

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The colony of Ramot Alon, built on the STOLEN land

of my late husband’s family, causing so much

destruction to nature and the landscape

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The view of Lifta and Jerusalem from Beit Iksa

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In Palestine, I am a torn between the most

paradoxical emotions of

 uncontainable joy and excruciating sadness

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4 Responses

  1. A beautiful yet poignant series of photographs Nahida. It’s insane that Israel abhors the comparison between themselves and the Nazis and yet the similarities are striking. The ongoing torture inflicted on Palestinians over many decades is much worse in regards the length of time and the way they make Palestinian lives as miserable as they possibly can. If Nazi-ism is the father and Israel the son he would look down towards him with a proud smile on his face. They disgust me.

  2. wordpress won’t allow posting videos in a comment anymore, however, you can see this and I thought you might find it interesting. In a twisted way, of course – they don’t act human – but that’s the point.

    • What is this? wordpress won’t allow any videos on my two blogs or others that I try and leave some on? I hope they have changed their policy – will try and see if I can post one in a comment on one of my two blogs.

  3. Dear Nahida,

    I am currently undertaking my final postgraduate architecture project in the UK. My project is based in Beit Iksa. I am keen to collect stories of the village much like the ones shared on your blog. It would be great to have some input from you. Please get in touch if possible.

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