The ethnic cleansing of Lyd, and how it continues today

Lyd Palestine | Before 1914

Rana on June 24, 2011 | Mondoweiss

The Israeli organization Zochrot has published testimonies from two men, Fayeq Abu Mana and Aaraf Muharab, on the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Lyd, my parents’ hometown. Israelis raping Palestinian women, wide-scale pillaging of Palestinian belongings for resale, mass murders of Palestinians, burning bodies of murdered, a massive Israeli military operation on the ground, military planes air bombing Lyd/Lod, Palestinians forced into prison and work camps. This is how Israel was created: raping, pillaging, and murdering.

From the testimony of Fayeq Abu Mana:

Lod was a quiet city without war. There were only Arabs here, Christians and Muslims, no Jews at all. Ben Shemen was the neighboring Jewish village and we were their friends. The war started and there were battles and they came to occupy Lod. The Jewish soldiers came from the direction of Ben Shemen dressed as Arabs like the Jordanian army. There was a war and there were casualties everywhere in Lod. In the room next to here there were many dead. There were many bodies. They were buried not far from here, near the main road. They buried them in a pit, I mean a jama’a [mass grave], everyone. Down in the city there is another mosque. It has a room that people entered, about 75 people. Someone from Lod took grenades and threw them at the army and killed a few soldiers. One of the soldiers, his brother was killed. He went to the mosque and killed all the people in that room.

We sat at home and they told us to burn the corpses. We burned them on the spot. They said to go to the mosque and take the corpses out from there. How take them out? The hands of the dead were very swollen. We couldn’t lift the corpses by hand, we brought bags and put the corpses on the bags and we lifted them onto a truck. We gathered everyone in the cemetery. Among them was one woman and two children. They said burn. We burned everyone.

I want those who stand with Israel to tell me how they justify this?

This man’s testimony matches the experience of my own family testimonies. My
grandmother clinging to her citrus trees, refusing to leave her home and land that she and my grandfather had sacrificed so much and worked so hard for. Where
was my grandmother to go with 11 children? She finally fled when the planes came
and started bombing her hometown.

Aaraf Muharab relates the history in 1948 to the situation today, where Israel is still trying to force Palestinians out of Lyd, or at least limit the population’s growth. He says:

I want to connect it to what is happening today in local problems. Sometimes it seems to me that people experienced more than one Nakba. Two days ago a house in Lod belonging to a woman with nine children was destroyed and now she is discarded. We made a decision to rebuild the house but it’s not certain that they wouldn’t try to destroy it again. Most of the crimes are committed in fact because there is order. No suffering can be used as a reason to cause suffering to another, otherwise there is no end to it. I don’t think that Zionism is totally evil but you have to recognize the injustice here. Jews here thin, that they are continuing the path of Herzl and they don’t see a difference between the expulsion of 1948 and expulsion today. You’re talking here about a demographic problem and that is the basis of racism.

Aaraf makes an important distinction in Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians. Here at Mondoweiss we often talk about discrimination but in the context of appropriating land in Lod he sheds light on the deeply institutionalized systematic and bureaucratic Israeli hostility toward Arabs. He continues:

I don’t want to use the word ‘discrimination’ because discrimination means, say, that 80% is apportioned to one side and 20% to the other. But here they give zero percent to the Arab side. It’s not discrimination but hostility. Planning in Lod is carried out purely in favor of the Jews and the Arab areas are an obstacle to the plans and nothing more.


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