Thursday, January 01, 2009
One House Left Standing in Al-Jura, Site of Ashkelon
To put in context the most recent Israeli assault on the Palestinians, one must consider the roots of the conflict. Modern day Ashkelon, the target of some of the rockets, which is the pretext Israel uses for its latest atrocity, is built on the ruins of ethnically cleansed and largely destroyed Al-Jura, a microcosm of Israel's overall destruction of Palestinian life. The Zionists left one house of 246 (Khalidi 117) standing in Al-Jura. The former inhabitants of Al-Jura and their descendents make up some of the mostly refugee population of today's Gaza.
Al-Jura is one of over four hundred destroyed Palestinian villages. Just sixty years ago, Al-Jura was the summer destination for the villagers of Al-Majdal, a village 5 kilometers inland from Al-Jura, and it was also destroyed by Zionist forces.
Walid Khalidi, in his book All that Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 writes: "An annual spring mawasin (a season of celebration) was held in it [Al-Jura], to which people in the cities and villages of Gaza District flocked for swimming, sports events, and religious festivals."
He also reports that fishing and bird hunting were the main occupations of the villagers.
Khalidi reports of a UPI story from 1948 in which an Israeli intelligence officer claims "Israeli military activity in the coastal areas had 'caused despair among the local inhabitants.'"
What is happening in Gaza today is an example of the continuing destruction and despair that the Zionist project has sown for the Palestinian people and their way of life. The roots of the conflict must be addressed, most importantly the Palestinians' right to return home, which is Article 13, Section 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.