When Israel achieved statehood in 1948, war broke out and Palestinians were driven off their land. The Six Days War of 1967 brought more forced evacuations, with most refugees fleeing to Jordan.
CGTN’s Stephanie Freid spoke to a Palestinian, who lives 30-minutes from his former home, but is barred from returning.
“We hid until midnight. My uncle Jasser came and told us the Jordanian army had withdrawn and the Israeli Army was in control. He asked us to leave – go somewhere outside the village so we wouldn’t be massacred by the Israelis,” Ahmed Zayed said.
Zayed was 13 at the time but he remembers that June 1967 night clearly.
The villagers were told the area was militarily strategic and all 500 families were ordered out.
His family went somewhere they thought would be temporary. Ahmed’s family returned to their village.
But when they got there, they were told it was a closed military zone and barred from entering.
When they saw bulldozers destroying the homes, they understood they wouldn’t be going back.
But that doesn’t mean they have given up.
The family lives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a half hour’s drive and one Israeli checkpoint away from the old village.
A Jewish settlement built in 1970 stands in its place, but remnants of Beit Nuba are hidden beneath the overgrowth.
“It is painful to be here at the grave site. If people don’t respect death, what do they respect? These are our grandfathers, mothers, uncles who taught us how to live on this land and planted love in our hearts for our land,” Ahmed said.
The key he brought with him has become infused with symbolism throughout the years.
“My uncle Jasser passed the responsibility of the struggle onto me. We shoulder this struggle from his time and we will hold onto it. I keep this key with me because if I don’t return to my village, I will pass it to my children as my uncle passed it to me.”
Fifty years after he was forced out, Ahmed hangs onto firm conviction: he may not return to the village in his lifetime, but eventually, somewhere down the line, his family will reclaim their land.