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Monday 1/10/2007 (Last update) 16:40 GMT

The Eilaboun Massacre in a new Palestinian film

Hundreds of Palestinians listening to eye witness accounts about the anniversary of the Eilaboun massacre (aljazeera net)

Wadeea Awawda - Nazareth

Palestinians in the city of Nazareth commemorated yesterday the horrible Eilaboun (Eilabun) massacre which was committed by Zionist organizations during this same month of 1948, the infamous year of Nakba.

This sad and horrible event was brought to the forefront by hundreds of Palestinians from the village of Eilaboun (Eilabun) and other 1948 towns in a documentary film entitled “Sons of Eilaboun” which was directed by Hisham Zreiq (Zrake) and had its debut yesterday. This documentary film contains eye witness accounts by people who witnessed the events and managed to escape the massacre.

The film hosts the progressive Israeli historian Elan Pappe who presents the historical background to the deportation of Palestinians from their lands during the Nakba. He points to the Zionist ethnic cleansing plan that was lead by David Ben Gurion. Mr. Pappe, the author of “Ethnic cleansing in Palestine”, exposed the falsity of the Zionist narrative regarding the departure of Palestinians from their homes as a result of the war and he reiterated that Zionism waited for the war and used it to implement its long-prepared plan to cleanse the country from its Arab inhabitants.

A Massacre Eyewitness

The film also contained eyewitness accounts by women and men who witnessed the process of deportation and the murder of 14 village young men. The accounts were accompanied by music and songs of singer Marcel Khalife and Irish musician Duncan Patterson as well as English subtitles.

Mr Salem Zreiq described how the Jewish soldiers kicked the priest of Eilaboun, Father Morqos Muallem, and forced him to go inside the church before they proceeded to deport the people of the village. He said that they arrived at the village the morning of Monday, October 30, 1948, and asked the villagers to assemble at the center of the village while forcing them to raise their hands above their heads at all times.

Boutros Matta, the only witness to the massacre who was seventeen years old at the time, explained that unlike other men he stayed behind due to his inability to walk after suffering an injury to his leg.

Cannon Fodder

Mr. Matta noted that the Jewish soldiers had selected 12 young men few minutes before expelling the villagers, and added that the commander would call three young men at a time and would have the soldiers shoot them dead.

Mr. Farid Zreiq noted that the Israelis forced him and two other fellow villagers to drive a car in front of their convoy to serve as cannon fodder by clearing any potential mines or to prevent other armed Palestinians from attacking the convoy.

He protested at how he lost track of his wife and five of his children as he tried to take shelter in Lebanon. He said that he almost lost his mind at this loss and his inability to contact them – especially after he was arrested and jailed for six months in an Atlit jail.

Mrs. Milia Zreiq detailed how the Israeli army forced the departure, on foot, of the people of Eilaboun until they reached the outskirts of the village of Maghar on the day of forced deportation. She decried the children’s cries and fear and said that some soldiers gave the children some bread but another group of soldiers quickly opened fire killing one child and injuring many.

She dropped her baby daughter

Mrs. Neami Matta remembered the children’s cries and how they fainted because of hunger and thirst. She noted that the wife of her uncle Farah had to leave her baby daughter behind because of fear and exhaustion until one of the villagers went back to retrieve the daughter and return her to her mother. Another child from the Sroor family was similarly left behind and died of exposure.

Other witnesses recalled that the Vatican intervened following a letter sent to the Pope by the village priests who later helped them returned to their destroyed and looted village. The villagers had to survive on bread and tea for a whole month because their homes were completely looted by the soldiers.

Mr. Hisham Zreiq (Zrake), the film director, assured Aljazeera Net that he intends for his film to contribute to documenting the oral narrative of the Eilaboun tragedy. He said that he’s preparing to show the film inside and outside the country and reminding us that what has been shown until now is a short version which will be followed by a long documentary film. Mr. Zreiq added “I created this short film with the goal of finding suitable sponsors for the documentary effort”.

Mr. Zreiq being honored following the film’s debut.