The Palestinian Nakba at 58 – Return to Lifta
On 13 May 2006, Palestinian refugees will return to their village of Lifta, albeit symbolically.
For Immediate Release
No. (E/12/06) 10 May 2006
Until February 1948, Lifta was a Palestinian village on the outskirts of what is now western Jerusalem. It was home to 2,530 people and had two elementary schools, one for boys and one for girls. The old village center, including a mosque, a village club and a cemetery, was located on the bottom of Wadi al-Shami next to the spring, while more modern homes were built on the top of the slope along the main road leading to Jerusalem. Due to Lifta's strategic location in the so-called Jerusalem Corridor connecting coastal Palestine and Jerusalem, Zionist forces began efforts at cleansing the village soon after the November 1947 UN resolution to partition Palestine (UNGA 181). On 28 December 1947, six people were gunned down by Zionist terrorists in the village coffee house, and the population was frequently terrorized, in particular by the militias led by Menachem Begin (IZL) and Yitzhak Shamir (Stern). Already by February 1948, the village was completely emptied of its inhabitants. (For more on the history and people of Lifta, see:
The Nakba Continues ...
Today, Lifta refugees (Liftawis) live in refugee camps and towns in Jordan and the occupied West Bank. Some had started new lives by building homes on that part of their lands which remained in Jordanian-controlled eastern Jerusalem after the 1948 war. Israel's 1967 occupation of this area, however, and subsequent construction of Jewish settlements and roads, as well as the expansion of the Hebrew University student dormitories, have led to more confiscation of Lifta land as well as house demolition and eviction orders against the remaining Lifta families. The old village center in Wadi al-Shami, on the other hand, has remained empty until today, with remnants of houses, the mosque and the village club still giving witness to the Palestinian presence before 1948. Not for much longer: according to a Jerusalem Municipality development plan this reminder of the Palestinian Nakba will make place for a new residential neighborhood. Objections against this plan were filed by the Palestinian owners with the support of the Zochrot Association and Bimkom – Planners for Human Rights. (For more on the struggle for the preservation of Lifta village, see also: www.seamless-israel.org )
RETURN TO LIFTA
On Saturday 13 May, the Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps (UYAC), Zochrot and Badil invite the public to take part in the first 'Lifta Marathon', an event organized in the framework of the 2006 commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba. Participants will depart from Palestinian refugee camps, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Palestinian families from Lifta will carry the keys to their homes and hand them over to those able to continue across the Israeli military checkpoints to complete the symbolic return. A small ceremony in the old village center will be held between 11:00 – 13:00 when Palestinian families from Lifta will convey their testimonies and memories. An art corner for children will be provided throughout the event. This year's return to Lifta will conclude with a collective effort at clearing the garbage dumped in the Palestinian homes.
For more details please contact: