‘Sderot’, the ‘Israeli’ city where the ‘Hamas’ rockets fall

The world knows it as Sderot, the Israeli city where the Hamas rockets fall. Even Barack Obama has been there. But Huj has a lot to do with this little story.

By map calculations, it lies, long destroyed, across the fields from a scruffy recreation center near the entrance to Sderot, a series of shabby villas on a little ring road where Israeli children were playing on the Shabat afternoon.

Israelis Atop Sderot Watching Gaza Bombing

The inhabitants of Huj were all Palestinian Arab Muslims and, irony of ironies, they got on well with the Jews of Palestine. We have to thank the Israeli historian Benny Morris for uncovering their story, which is as grim as it is filled with sorrow.

Huj’s day of destiny came on 31 May 1948, when the Israeli Negev Brigade’s 7th Battalion, facing an advancing Egyptian army, arrived in the village. In Morris’s words, “the brigade expelled the villagers of Huj … to the Gaza Strip”.
Some thanks

Morris elaborates: “Huj had traditionally been friendly; in 1946, its inhabitants had hidden Haganah men from a British dragnet. In mid-December 1947, while on a visit to Gaza, the mukhtar (mayor) and his brother were shot dead by a mob that accused them of ‘collaboration’.

But at the end of May, given the proximity of the advancing Egyptian column, the Negev Brigade decided to expel the inhabitants – and then looted and blew up their houses.”

So the people of Huj had helped the Jewish Haganah army escape the British – and the thanks they got was to be sent into Gaza as refugees.

According to Morris, three months later the three headmen from the nearest Jewish kibbutzim even complained about the treatment of their former neighbours to David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

He wrote back: “I hope that the HQ will pay attention to what you say, and will avoid such unjust and unjustified actions in the future, and will set right these things in so far as possible with respect to the past.” But Ben Gurion did not instruct the new Israeli army to allow the villagers of Huj to return.

The following month, they pleaded to go back. The Israeli Department of Minority Affairs noted that they deserved special treatment since they had been “loyal”, but the Israeli army decided they should not go back.

So the Palestinians of Huj festered on in the Gaza strip where their descendants still live as refugees.

But the present day Sderot, writes the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, was built on farmland belonging to another Palestinian Arab village called Najd, its 422 Muslim inhabitants living in 82 homes, growing citrus, bananas and cereals.

They shared the same fate as the people of Huj. On 12 and 13 May 1948, the Negev Brigade of the Israeli army – again, according to Morris – drove them out. They, too, were sent into exile in Gaza.

Thus did the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, as another Israeli historian, Illan Pappé, calls it bluntly, wipe from history the people who farmed the land on which Sderot would be built.
Irony

You can see Huj and Najd on Munther Khaled Abu Khader’s reproduced map of Mandate Palestine. Sderot was founded in 1951 but Asraf Simi, who arrived there in 1962 and later worked in the local library, knows nothing of this. She shrugged her shoulders when I asked about them.

“We didn’t hear anything about Arabs around here. My uncle came near the beginning, around 1955, and was living in a tent here – and we all thought this would be one of the most modern cities in Israel! I’m not frightened – but I’m not happy about the ceasefire. I think we should have gone in there to finish it all forever.”

Another irony. Asraf Simi was born in Morocco and learned Moroccan-accented Arabic before she left for Israel at the age of 17. And she does not know that today, in the squalor of Gaza, live well over 6,000 descendants of the people of Huj.

Thus does the tragedy of the Palestinian Nakba – the “catastrophe” – connect directly with the Israelis of Sderot.

That is why they cannot “finish it all forever”. Because the thousands of rockets that have fallen around them over the past 12 years come from the very place where now live the families that lived on this land.

Thus does Sderot have an intimate connection with a date that President Obama may have forgotten about when he came visiting: 1948, the year that will never go away.

Sderot, “bomb shelter capital of the world”, not as heroic as Israel claims

MIDDLE EAST: MOBILE CLINIC. Doctors and nurses of the Palestinian Department of Health Mobile Ophthalmic Clinic with villagers outside of Najd, Gaza. Photograph, August 1939.

MIDDLE EAST: MOBILE CLINIC. Doctors and nurses of the Palestinian Department of Health Mobile Ophthalmic Clinic with villagers outside of Najd, Gaza. Photograph, August 1939.

Sderot, writes the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi, was built on farmland belonging to another Palestinian Arab village called Najd, its 422 Muslim inhabitants living in 82 homes, growing citrus, bananas and cereals. They shared the same fate as the people of Huj. On 12 and 13 May 1948, the Negev Brigade of the Israeli army – again, according to Morris – drove them out. They, too, were sent into exile in Gaza. Thus did the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, as another Israeli historian, Illan Pappé, calls it bluntly, wipe from history the people who farmed the land on which Sderot would be built.

The border town, “rained on” by Gaza rockets, is still the main plank of propaganda efforts to justify Israel’s vicious stranglehold on Gaza.

Stuart Littlewood writes:

CBN News has run a story with the headline Israel “Takes Diplomats on Tour along Gaza Border”, in which Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, tells them it’s her duty to let them “see the real challenges on the ground”.

Sderot, which has become known as “the bomb shelter capital of the world”, is a compulsory stop on these propaganda tours. Being only a mile from the Gaza Strip, residents have little time to take cover, though very few have been killed by Gaza’s erratic garden-shed missiles.

The story of brave Sderot is told ad nauseam to brainwash the media and their own people besides the coach-loads of gullible foreign politicians and tourists. The Israeli authorities have studiously counted and broadcast the number of home-made Qassam projectiles, claiming that more than 15,000 “terrorist” rockets have “rained down” on Sderot since the Israeli occupier pulled its citizens and troops out of the Gaza Strip in 2005, saying they were making a concession of territory designed to bring peace. Of course, it didn’t. Why?

Image result for Sderot cartoon watching Gaza bombed

We Zionist love to watch Bomb dropped into #Gaza

For several reasons. Israel’s “concession” was the handing back of territory that didn’t belong to them in the first place. Furthermore, the pull-out on the ground has still left Israel occupying Gaza’s territorial waters and airspace, and in control of all land crossings – including the one into Egypt. The Zionist regime has thus maintained a vicious blockade on the tiny coastal enclave for the last 10 years. Hotovely and her regime colleagues, who preach non-stop about Israel’s right to self-defense, fail to understand that the Palestinians have the same right and are entitled to mount an armed resistance against their illegal occupier.

Sderot is built on the lands of a Palestinian Arab village called Najd, which was ethnically cleansed by Jewish terrorists in May 1948 before Israel was declared a state and before any Arab armies entered Palestine. The 600-plus villagers, all Muslim, were forced to flee for their lives.

What Israelis never admit to is how many missiles, bombs, shells, mortar rounds and other high-tech ordnance launched by their F-16s, helicopter gunships, drones, tanks and navy gunboats have slammed into crowded Gaza, causing horrendous slaughter and reducing homes and vital infrastructure (much of it paid for by European Union and American taxpayers) to rubble.

And there’s another little fact that Hotovely is careful not to mention. Sderot is built on the lands of a Palestinian Arab village called Najd, which was ethnically cleansed by Jewish terrorists in May 1948 before Israel was declared a state and before any Arab armies entered Palestine. The 600-plus villagers, all Muslim, were forced to flee for their lives. Britain, the mandated government, was on watch while this and many other atrocities were committed by rampaging Jewish militias.

Arabs owned over 90 per cent of the land in Najd and, according to UN Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they are entitled to return home. But, as we have come to expect, Israel refuses to recognise the rights of others and will not allow them back. Anyway, what is there for them to return to? The 82 homes there were bulldozed. Najd was one of 418 Palestinian villages and towns ethnically cleansed and wiped off the map by Zionist Jews. Its inhabitants became refugees in Gaza and their families are probably still living in camps there.

The irony is that some of them may be manning the rocket launcher!

When Barak Obama visited Sderot he spouted the well-worn mantra backing Israel’s right to protect its citizens from rocket attacks. “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.” Well said, Obama. But let’s hope you wouldn’t be so stupid or arrogant as to live on land you stole from your neighbour at gun-point.