“Nakba” (Arabic for catastrophe) refers to the events in 1948, when two-thirds of the Palestinian population were forcibly displaced from their land. Over sixty years on, Palestinian refugees are the world’s largest refugee population. To date, the international community has failed to address or secure their rights, including their inalienable human right to return to their homes. May 15th is the day in which Israeli’s celebrate the establishment of the so-called “State of Israel” while Palestinians revolt and uprise against the Israeli celebrations and establish events that aim to commemorate Nakba and become even more determined on the right to return.
Palestinians have been suffering around the hour for sixty-three years, as the Israelis enjoy oppressing the true and only owners of the land in all ways by all means possible while the international community watches with hands folded. The so-called “State of Israel” has rules that prohibit any kind of activity commemorating Nakba, and he who crosses the line is held responsible and charged probably for “crimes” he never heard of.
A group of five activists, including me, decided to establish events in 5 different cities commemorating Nakba with tens of volunteers who participated and helped us arranging and organizing for the event. This event is supposed to be held in Gaza, Ramallah, Nablus, Haifa, and Amman. I was the Gaza coordinator and a group of youth volunteered to help me with the event in Gaza.
The event in Gaza started on May 10th as the opening was with an exhibition for Naji Al-Ali’s artwork including fifty of the best. Later in the evening we screened the movie “This is My Picture When I Was Dead” starting Bashir Mraish. The audience was great. More than 450 attended both the exhibition and the screening.
Everybody was anticipating the second day, which is holding multiple events. We kicked off the day with a Dabka show by Turathona for folklore followed by a poetic conference via Skype with poet Najwan Darwish from Jerusalem. Then the time for the part of the event that the majority was anticipating by DARJ team, one of the best rappers in Gaza. We were surprised by the existence of Hamas Security Forces (HSF) on the gate of Gallery Al-Ittihad in which the whole event was held, telling the owner, Jamal Abu Alqumsan, to stop the event immediately claiming that we don’t have permission. Jamal came to us telling us that DARJ can’t kick off so we played a documentary “Our Nakba Will Be Our Return”.
HSF didn’t give us time for anything; they intruded the place and ordered us to stop immediately. They shut down the whole event for no clear reason. They movie didn’t pass its 7th minute and we had more events for the night but nothing was done. We couldn’t do anything because then shut down the sound system, the LCD projector and told us that if we don’t stop screening the movie, they will destroy the laptop. We had to stop to prevent any violence. HSF captured Jamal, the owner, and Basel Al-Qishawi, the manager of it. They were taking for interrogations and investigations. They both were victims to physical torture and they were warned not to host any kind of activities.
A few hours ago I met with the manager, Basil, and asked him about what happened to him during the time he was under arrest. His face was full of marks resulted from the slaps and punches he had on his face. He smiled and said: “it’s alright, don’t worry.”
My sources informed me that the reason behind shutting down the event was because there was a conference held at the same place by March 15 movement (and finished right before we kicked off the 2nd day of the event commemorating Nakba which was an hour late already). During that conference, someone mentioned Haniyyah and said that he must apologize for the people in Gaza. A friend denied that and said “It was Abbas who was mentioned, not Haniyyah”
Other sources reported that someone from a different youth group-who apparently holds hatred and grudge towards the youth group I was working with-attended the first day of the event and didn’t like how much success we’ve achieved so far, so he went to the police and told them that we’re actually from the March 15 movement and that there are perverted people located there, and the police came to the place racing time.
Last but not least, I don’t hold anything for anybody as long as there’s nothing approved. But whoever responsible for this, will have to deal with the consequences. Read it as a warning or just as text, this has become a personal matter. A month worth of hard working and sleepless nights trying to come up with a commemorating event that everybody would talk about. A month worth of hard working and sleepless nights has gone with the wind because of a false report, or some silly reason.
Don’t put personal matters first because if you do, you’ll be selfish. And if you are, allow me to tell you that you don’t belong here and you don’t deserve to be alive.