At certain points along the narrow and winding village roads in South Lebanon the convoy would pause and Hezbollah members would appear and distribute bottles of water, fresh croissants and large chocolate filled cookies. They also did traffic control work and provided civil defense and medical services as needed. One imagines it was their guys who erected the nifty new road signs throughout the South that showed the distance to Palestine with an arrow pointing toward Jerusalem. Whenever the buses would pass one of the signs that read in Arabic and English, for example, "Palestine: 23 km", our bus would erupt in cheers.
The Mabarat Charity, founded by the late scholar Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who was from the village of Bint Jbeil near Maron al Ras, and which charity operates several gas stations, the proceeds of which supports orphans, discounted gas on Nakba Day for the hundreds on buses & vans.
It is difficult to exaggerate the camaraderie, emotion and sheer power of the event. The came to renew their commitment and send the World a message that they are determined to return to their land no matter the sacrifices required. For some coming to see Palestine, including some of those who have been forced out of their homes and off their lands, 63 years ago, it appeared to be almost a sacred and religious act.
One man, who appeared to be in his 80's stood not far from me and gazed toward his stolen land near Akka, seen in the distance. Suddenly he slumped to the ground. Two of us elevated his legs and tried to make him comfortable on the rocky ground until first aid arrived.
My best friend in Shatila camp, Zeinab Hajj, whose father walked from his village of Amouka near Safad as a child, stared toward Safad also visible in the distance. Tears ran down Zeinabs cheeks as she gazed at her village. It was a common site among the old and the young. Even toddlers whose parents wanted them to witness and be part of this historic day appeared to grasp its solemnity and importance.
For the large American contingent and other international guests, it was a majestic and cherished experience observing Nakba Day 2011 at Maroun al Ras.
However as the World soon learned, 10 Palestinians were killed by Israeli snipers and more than 120 wounded, some critically. None of the demonstrators had weapons. Those murdered were all civilians from the Camps and were shot in cold blood as they nonviolently as placed Palestinian flags at the fence and gave the peace and victory sign. After Israeli troops fired on them, some threw rocks at the soldiers. Fortunately some lives were saved by a field hospital affiliated with the group, the Martyr Salah Ghandour Hospital, from nearby Bint Jbeil.
Zionist occupation forces could be seen by those gathered near the blue line at Maroun Al Ras peering out from behind trees or barriers while others were fully visible. One knowledgeable source informed this observer that unseen Hezbollah resistance fighters at one time yesterday afternoon had as many as 32 Israelis in the cross-hairs of their unseen weapons as they silently watched what was happening.
Hezbollah decided not to kill them which would have accommodated Israel's intent behind its deadly provocation--this time.
Meanwhile, Lebanon has filed a complaint against Israel with the UN Security Council calling on the Security Council to pressure Israel to stop its hostile and provocative policies against Lebanon and hold it accountable for killing civilians.
Today is a day of general strikes in the camps in
mourning for the victims who were killed with funerals being held in the
refugee camps of al-Bass, Burj al-Shemali, Mieh Mieh and Ain al-Hilweh. All
UNWRA schools are closed.
Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassas Nassrallah commended Lebanon's Palestinians this morning as he explained his interpretation of Nakba Day 2011: "You do not accept a homeland other than Palestine, and so let no one fear naturalization in Lebanon because your firm decision is to return. Your loud and clear message to the enemy is that you are determined to liberate the land no matter what the sacrifices are; and the fate of this entity (enemy) is demise and that no initiatives, treaties or borders will protect it. Your return to Palestine is inalienable right, and its realization has become closer than any other time. "
Hassan Nasrallah's words require that Lebanon's next Parliament, with the full, active, direct, and unequivocal support of Hezbollah immediately repeal the racist and discriminatory 2001 law that outlaws home ownership for Palestinians in Lebanon and that Lebanon's Palestinians be immediately granted the right to work just as all refugees do globally and all foreigners in Lebanon enjoy.
There must be no more resistance to
Palestinians being granted the elementary right to work and to own a home. Yesterday at Maroun al Ras Lebanon's Palestinians
once again earned the right to live in dignity and care for their families
until Return. As the Palestinians continue their struggle for elementary civil
rights here in the inhumane camps of Lebanon, they and the advocates are
heartened by Hassan Nassrallah words of a few hours ago:
"We are with you, and by your side. We are happy for your happiness and sad for your sadness, we carry with you the same hopes and pains, and move on together in the path of resistance so that we continue our victories and liberate all our land and sanctities.
Hopefully Lebanon's Palestinian refugees will, after 63 years in Lebanon, be granted internationally mandated civil rights.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and is reachable c/o Email address removed
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