• Monday, October 23, 2023 at 9:13 PM
    Last Update : Friday, October 27, 2023 at 5:42 AM

‘Tel Aviv is my Land’ … Tragic Account of a Twice-Displaced Palestinian

(AWP) - “Tel Aviv is my land,” says Tawfiq al-Jalees, an 83-year-old Palestinian man, recollecting the tragedy of his displacement to the Gaza Strip in 1948 from his original village adjacent to Tel Aviv, and who is now experiencing the bitterness of a second displacement due to the Israeli shelling of Gaza.

Al-Jalees moved with his sons and grandchildren to live in tents set up by the United Nations at a shelter in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, where the government media office said in a press release that the number of displaced people in the Gaza Strip has reached 1.4 million, half of them in shelter centres.

According to the statement, other displaced people are living with relatives, friends or at public facilities, among other places.

Fifty percent of the housing units in Gaza have been damaged due to the ongoing airstrikes with nearly 20,000 residential units completely destroyed or uninhabitable, according to the statement.

In one of the tents inside a shelter in Khan Younis, Al-Jalees recounts to his grandchildren the story of his displacement 75 years ago along with his family, who believed they would return home after a week or two, but who ended up joining the convoys of refugees to Gaza, where they remained for decades, never returning to their original village.

Recounting his first displacement in 1948, Al-Jalees says, “I come from a Palestinian village adjacent to Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Yazur, called Salama. It is a few steps away from Tel Aviv – less than meters. We left with the understanding that we would be away for a week or two and then return. The Israelis carried out acts of provocation and went on a killing spree, doing what they wanted. The Palestinian people took the matter too lightly and, as a result, the Israelis seized control over large swathes of Palestine.”

He added, “I left Palestine when I was eight years old, clutching at my mother’s dress and running behind and beside her. Today, we are refugees just like we were displaced in 1948. We have suffered a lot, and what we endured, our sons and daughters are enduring.”

Although many years and decades have passed, the man still clutches to the hope of returning to his homeland.

“I have a dream and have knowledge. We must return to Palestine. I can never forget even a single inch of Palestine, whether it’s Gaza or Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is my land.”