Friday, May 16, 2008
Handuma Rashid Najja Wishah spends as much time as she can in her garden in Gaza maintaining her "intimate love of the land." (PCHR)
Report, PCHR, 15 May 2008
(Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)
""I am not sure what year I was born. But it was around 78 years ago, in Palestine." Handuma Rashid Najja Wishah sits on the patio overlooking her large garden, recalling the turbulent story of her long life. "I am a Palestinian from the village of Beit Affa" she says, tucking her long white scarf under her chin. "It was a beautiful village and we had a good life there. There was a small Jewish settlement nearby, called Negba, and we had a good relationship with the Jews. Whenever we had weddings, we would invite them to come and celebrate, and we women all used to dance dabka (Palestinian traditional dance) together. The muktar (chief) of the settlement, was called Michael. He used to arrive at the weddings with a gift, like a goat, and we would cook it and share the meat between us.".......
The Haganah militia entered Beit Affa in the summer of 1948. "They arrived at 1:00 am" Handuma recalls, "and started to kill our people. I saw my husband's cousin axed to death, and an elderly woman being murdered. We hid in our homes, and the killing continued until 7:00 am. Then the Haganah broke down the front doors of our houses and told us all to get out. They separated us, women from men, and then they took the men and blindfolded them, tied their hands together, and forced outside into the hot sun." The surviving villagers' lives were saved when Egyptian troops arrived and drove the Haganah out of Beit Affa. "But we had to leave our village," says Handuma. "We were still afraid for our lives -- and for the honor of our girls. The land would have to wait for us. I took nothing from my home, and left the front door open." She says all of the Beit Affa villagers left together en masse........"