Contribution to Searching Jenin
Contribution to Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion, a book edited by Ramzy Baroud
Dr. Qumsiyeh is an associate Professor at Yale University School of Medicine and co-founder and spokesperson of the Palestine Right to Return Coalition
We all learned with horror the unfolding tragedy as Israeli occupation forces attacked the Jenin refugee camp and left in its wake destroyed homes of one fourth of the camp residents. But for me personally, the dominant thought was the unfairness of this atrocity occurring to people who are living in a destitute refugee camp. According to UNWRA, the UN group in charge of providing humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees: "Most of the camp's residents came from villages which can be seen from the camp and which today lie inside the Green Line in Israel. Many of the refugees still maintain close ties with their relatives in those villages"
There are over 13,000 refugees in the Jenin camp cramped on 373 dunums (about 93 acres). They are villagers and their progeny who fled and were prevented from returning to their lands in 1948. Their confiscated lands total over 110,000 dunums. Some of these villages that the residents fled from and are prevented from returning to include places with names like Ain Al-Mansi ("spring of the forgotten"), and Khirbet Al-Jawfa, Al-Lajjun (ancient Megiddo), and Al-Mazar. Very few of the buildings of these ancient and idyllic villages remain. At Al-Lajjun, one of the few remaining buildings is the Village mosque which is now used as a carpentry shop by the Jewish settlement of Kibbutz Megiddo. For these native villagers to be uprooted, disinherited, and prevented from returning to their lands to lead a normal life is criminal.
For them to be subjected to repeated atrocities as they live in the tiny ghetto known as Jenin Refugee Camp is beyond human comprehension. Justice demands these refugees be allowed to return to their lands and to bury their dead in their ancient villages. There can simply be no peace or security without justice.