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Resolution 194's failure

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Resolution 194's failure


Just south and just north of Bethlehem in the West Bank lie the Palestinian refugee camps of Aida and Dheisheh.

They were set up for Palestinians from more than 40 villages overtaken by the new state of Israel, established in 1948.

The Arab states, rejecting the UN plan to partition Palestine between Jews and Arabs, had moved against Israel.

Israel beat them off and expanded the territory assigned to it under UN Resolution 181. The refugees have never been able to return.

Ahmad Nasrallah Jibril, from the village of Khirbet El Umur, told euronews: “In that war between the Jews and the Arabs, the Jews started to bomb our village. All of us were driven to escape, the young and the elderly. I was eight years old. The Israelis destroyed the village. It was war, so they destroyed the village. They put explosives under the houses and they destroyed the whole village, like that.”

Another family here became refugees twice, leaving Bethlehem in 1948, to rebuild in Jordan. Then they were forced to abandon their new home in the 1967 war.

Dahoud Ahmad Jalil el Hasrak said: “We heard about killing in Jer Hassin. The people feared for their wives and their children. That’s why we left. We were simple farmers but it was our land. In the village there were around 300 people. Everybody had his own land, good land, huge land. They lived by working this land and were happy.”

Families left with very little. Jalila Hasrak said: “We took all the things we could. In those old days people did not have a lot. We took clothes and bedding and what we needed for the kitchen.”

A grindstone and a utensil for separating the chaff from grain are the two things the family still has from all those years ago.

Samir Awis was born in Aida camp but still feels a strong attachment to the soil his forbears worked, fields where he has never set foot.

Samir Awis told us: “I live in a refugee camp but in my heart feel I am living in my original village. I have never had the chance to see it with my own eyes because of the Israeli occupation. It is inside the armistice demarcation line, even though it is 10 minutes from here.”

Resolution 194 called for the peaceful return of refugees. The six Arab countries then in the UN voted against it. Israel joined in 1949.

Our correspondent Isabel Ces explains: “Officially, Israel never drove any Palestinians from their land. However, it does not permit their return. Nor has it given any compensation, in spite of the UN resolution, which is written out in paint out at the entrance of the Dheisheh camp.”

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