Hebron -

The Nakba of Palestine in 1948 witnessed the massive extermination of hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities, and this approach extended to the setback in 1967, in which several villages and thousands of homes were destroyed.

Beit Awa is a Palestinian village adjacent to the Green Line, southwest of Hebron, in the southern West Bank. It was destroyed in 1967, after a previous destruction in the Nakba in 1948.

When occupying the rest of Palestine in the “setback” in 1967, Israel destroyed several villages, the most prominent of which were the so-called villages of Latrun, northwest of Jerusalem: Imwas, Beit Nuba, Yalu, Al-Sharaf neighborhood, and the Mughrabi Gate in the old city of Jerusalem, in addition to the town of Beit Awa, and other villages in the Jordan Valley.

Today, Sunday, June 5, marks the 55th anniversary of the setback or the 1967 war, in which Israel completed the occupation of what remained of Palestine after the Nakba of 1948, and parts of the lands of neighboring Arab countries.

The Nakba and the refugee camps that resulted from it constituted an important lesson for the people of Beit Awa village, as most of them preferred to remain on the ruins of their destroyed homes, rather than fleeing and seeking refuge, and they reconstructed them twice.

Ismail al-Qahoush, witness to the destruction of his house in the 1967 war in the village of Beit Awa (Al-Jazeera)


Al Jazeera Net visited the town of Beit Awa, and met two of its residents who lived through the first destruction, and evoked the details of the second destruction.

The octogenarian Ismail al-Qahush (Abu Jamal) says that the attack on the village began with artillery bombardment from the west and the western outskirts of the village, so the residents left it and took refuge in the neighboring villages and mountains.

He added that "the destruction affected every building above the ground, which consisted of rooms or sheds, most of which were built of stone and mud, and a few caves. The Israeli army continued to collect weapons from the residents, including the Jordanian army, which ruled the West Bank at the time, and confiscated it."

Abu Jamal reports that the residents returned to their destroyed homes a few days later, and the International Committee of the Red Cross provided tents to help them survive.

The Palestinian elderly explained that the residents started rebuilding the houses upon their return, by recycling their rubble, in light of the scarcity of building materials at the time.

He took us to the remains of a cave he owned, which was demolished in 1967, and a concrete building was built on its ruins, the same year it was destroyed.

Ismail Al-Suwaiti is a resistance and witness to the destruction of the village of Beit Awa (Al-Jazeera)

The living martyr

As for Haj Ismail Al-Suwaiti (85 years), he was one of the revolutionaries who stood up to the occupation at the time, and miraculously escaped death.

He says that he was in a stronghold overlooking the occupied part in 1948, when two Israeli army vehicles passed along the border, heading from north to south.

He added that "a Jordanian military point confronted the two vehicles with a 500 machine gun, and he was between the two sides, so he resorted to a trench, while the sounds of bullets surrounded him."

The two vehicles did not stop and continued to the south, so Al-Suwaiti went out, to find that he had escaped death, as he found traces of bullets in the vicinity of the trench, but his weapon failed him in this situation because the bullets that had been given to him had been damaged.

From the homes of Beit Awwa that were destroyed by Israel in the 1967 war (Al-Jazeera)

mines and bulldozers

A few days after the patrol was targeted, an Israeli force surprised the village and began a policy of collective punishment against the residents by demolishing all the homes, which reinforces the belief of the residents that there were casualties in the patrol.

The Palestinian Muammar says that the army began to blow up the houses, and between them was his father’s contract, which is a stone and mud building that resembles a room.

He continues that the army used mines to blow up houses in the western part of the village, and bulldozers to demolish the eastern part of it.

In remembrance of the setback, we think that defeat comes from repression, the ruler, the God who does not make mistakes, the betrayal of the opposition, and the monopoly of patriotism..

One feels that he is living in a continuous setback, unfortunately.

— Mahienour El-Massry (@MahienourE) June 4, 2022

The lesson of the Nakba

According to our speaker, the destruction lasted 48 decades (rooms) in the village, and only 3 of them remained. People resorted to the outskirts of the eastern village and neighboring villages for two days, then most of them returned to their homes.

He explains that only about a third of the residents left the town after the demolition, and some of them are still displaced today, and the rest refused to become refugees, as happened with the displaced people of the Nakba who live in camps until today.

He says that the residents received aid and food from international agencies for several days.

Among the remains of Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel in the 1967 war (Al-Jazeera)

Thousands of homes destroyed

The 1967 war stopped on the evening of June 10, 6 days after its outbreak, and with its loss, the Arabs lost more lands to Israel, in addition to the human and military losses.

While the Nakba caused the displacement of about 800,000 Palestinians, the Naksa displaced about 200,000 citizens.

According to the data of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel destroyed 3,200 homes in the three villages of Jerusalem and the rest of the destroyed Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank, in addition to a thousand homes in the Mughrabi Gate neighborhood, Haret Al-Sharaf and various neighborhoods of occupied Jerusalem.

According to data published by the non-governmental Land Research Center in late 2021, the occupation demolished about 11,900 Palestinian homes, including 7,440 homes in East Jerusalem only, during the period from 1967 until the end of September 2021, thus displacing about 73,000 citizens, including 47,000 And 220 Jerusalemites.

The separation wall on the lands of the town of Beit Awa (Al-Jazeera)

During the same period, the occupation bulldozers and warplanes demolished about 21 thousand Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip, thus displacing about 189,000 Palestinian citizens in the Gaza Strip internally.

The number of Palestinian and Arab martyrs since the Nakba in 1948 until today has reached about 100,000, including about 42,000 since 1967, according to Palestinian sources.

For its part, Palestinian Prisoner Club data indicate that 228 detainees have been martyred in Israeli prisons since 1967. Nearly one million arrests have been recorded since 1967, according to the club.

The number of Israeli colonial sites and military bases at the end of 2020 in the West Bank reached 471 sites, inhabited by about 712,815 settlers, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.