Matthew Cassel writing from Baddawi refugee camp, Live from Lebanon, Sep 11, 2007
"It took over three months, but in the end the Lebanese army claimed victory over Fatah al-Islam, the previously unheard of non-Palestinian, al-Qaida-inspired group that had established itself in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. On Tuesday, 4 September 2007, outside the entrance to the destroyed camp the Lebanese army massed together to begin what would be a 10-hour-long parade from Nahr al-Bared to Beirut just over 50 miles away.
Meanwhile, Palestinian refugees displaced from Nahr al-Bared staying in the nearby Baddawi refugee camp watched the parade live on television. Many cursed the images they saw of the Lebanese army celebrating their achievement. A young medical volunteer entered the room and as he watched the TV said, "You know, two Palestinians from Nahr al-Bared were taken yesterday by the army and beaten when they were near Nahr al-Bared. They're in the hospital now."......
Abu Yasser showing where he was beaten and whipped with metal chains by the Lebanese army.
Abu Yasser showing the scars on his wrists where the army attached metal bracelets and electrocuted him.
Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the year when three-quarters of the Palestinian population were forced from their historic lands and ended up in places like the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. Still unable to return to their homeland, the refugees from Nahr al-Bared are probably the only people in the world demanding the right to return to a refugee camp.
The discussion surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is narrowly focused on the issue of the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. The rights of Palestinian refugees have almost entirely dropped off the radar. It's clear that Israel, unwilling to even give up its illegal settlements built on Palestinian land in the West Bank, will certainly not acknowledge or grant the Palestinians' right to return despite numerous UN resolutions reaffirming this right.
The destruction of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp is reminder that it is time to refocus the discourse and include the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967, when as many as 250,000 Palestinians were displaced, many for a second time. Their human dignity not respected, Palestinian refugees are and have been vulnerable to treatment like that which Abu Yasser suffered while detained by the Lebanese army. They enjoy no rights, have no representative government, no passport, no home in which they can comfortably live. They have only one right to which they cling -- the right to return to Palestine.
As Hajj Mousa explained, "If we could return to Palestine, all of us [in Lebanon] would leave everything we have here and return with nothing just as we came here in 1948.""