My life, like many of us who live in Gaza, is marked by separation, loss and endurance. It is a story that has repeated itself over generations.
My late grandfather shared many stories about his childhood and life on a farm in the Palestinian village of Kartya. In 1947, Kartya was an agricultural town located northeast of present-day Gaza, just northwest of al-Faluja and bordered by the villages of Hatta, Iraq Sweidan and Beit Afa. The village does not exist today; it was seized by Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and its 1,300 residents were forced to abandon their homes along with more than 700,000 other Palestinian Arabs who either fled or were expelled from the region.
Rajab Abdelfattah Maghari, my grandpa, was 15 years old when he and his family were forced to leave Kartya. “We did not take much money or clothes with us with the belief we would come back when the conflict was over,” Grandpa told me. “But it never really ended.”
I was a young adult before I understood why he talked so often about the importance of land ownership and his love of farming. His family became refugees when they left Kartya. Grandpa was ripped from his childhood home as a teenager. Throughout his entire life, he never stopped pining for home.
Today, if you visit the 48,000-square-meter area where the village of Kartya once stood, you will find rubble, a ruined cemetery, and fields of grain tilled by the residents of Israeli settlements that now reside there.Keep breathing