[This picture hangs on an office wall in Balata Refugee Camp.
Palestinian refugees lived for years in these tents.]
This same evening at Balata Refugee Camp, MPT interviewed two girls, 11 and 14. They said that even after 62 years of being displaced, they still call their village, Yazur, home. And as refugees they want to return.
They remember the horrors of the Second Intifada when they had to stay indoors all the time because the Israeli army would not allow even the wounded to go to the hospital. Their brother was killed while he was praying in their home.
The girls plan to be a teacher and a doctor, and return to their village, which they have never seen.
[Zudije Ahmad Salem]
The 4th person MPT interviewed from the Balata Refuge Camp was Zudije Ahmad Salem, a 71-year old refugee, from the village of Idzim near Haifa. She said she found it difficult to repeat her story, but felt she must do so. Her village was a happy one where her family could grow olives and beans and maintain themselves well.
In 1948, when Zudije was 11 years old, buses came to their village, loaded up the villagers, including her family of 8 children and her parents with only the clothes on their backs, and took them to Junin, a town north of Nablas. Many Palestinian refugees fled to Jordan, Iraq and Syria. Her family went to Salfit and later to Huwwara, near Nablus.
Later when she married, she and her husband moved in 1960 to Balata Refugee Camp to claim their status as refugees hoping it might enable them to return to their own villages. Zudije visited her village for the last time in 1975. There she prayed in the mosque, ate pomegranates and took away a stone near her home.
During the Second Intifada, Zudije would try to intervene when soldiers tried to arrest people. The soldiers beat her and she was hospitalized for stomach problems after being hit by a rubber coated bullet.
Zudije has one son in prison with 13 years left of his 20-year sentence. She cried when she thought she might not see him freed before she dies and for the sadness of his wife and 4 children. His wife may not visit him, but Zudije last saw her son and sang to him, in March 2010.
She saw homes destroyed in the Second Intifada. In 2007 another son was shot in both legs, arrested by plain clothed police at 8:00 a.m. and imprisoned for 2 years.
She is sad that her children had to live as they have and that the world has not found a solution to this situation. She said, "The Jews do not have land here, what they have they took with guns and by violence. They are only tourists."