Palestine: Cycling Not to Forget

PNN/ Bethlehem

Three young women from the United Kingdom are about to start a journey that sees them cycling through Palestinian villages demolished in 1948. The Palestinian exodus, Nakba, occurred when about 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were forced to leave their homes in Mandatory Palestine, in the territory now controlled by Israel. Their right to return to their original hamlets or a possible compensation for their loss are one of the causes for discussion in the on-going Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Today the depopulated villages do not longer exist or are reduced to ruins.

The cyclers’ route has its beginning from Aida Refugee Camp, 2km North of Bethlehem, West Bank Area, and ends in Jaffa, an old port city in the North of Occupied Palestine, Israel.

“We plan to see the remaining of the villages, document our trip thought pictures, a travel diary and to trail it with GPS location”.

The girls will cross the ruined villages of Al-Malha, Ajjour, Beit Jibreen, Illar, Jaffa and more.

Their project, in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right of return, is a protest against the JNF (Jewish National Fund) practices in the UK, since its involvement in the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and its current discriminatory policies against the Arab citizens of Israel, preventing them from acquiring land in Palestine 1948.

“The JNF misleads the English public and sells hiking tours for both Israelis and English people in the lands once owned by Palestinian villagers, never mentioning the history of those places and the connection with Palestine” said one of the girls.

The journey, started on Tuesday, will take the young travellers about three days until arrival in Jaffa, where an evening event with the Palestinian community has been organized to greet them.

Background Information:

There are currently about 7.5 millions Palestinians living as refugees under occupation and in territories outside Palestine out of the 11 million Palestinians.

In 1948, the British mandate, with the support of United States, issued the Partition Pan of Palestine, a proposal developed by the United Nations and knows as 181 resolution. The partition plan has never been implemented and the current land division does not represent the then borders delineated in the UN Plan. As the civil war broke out, Mandatory Palestine was distributed in uneven parts, resulting in a major land acquisition by the Jewish State who sought to accommodate a large number of Jewish people in the area.

Of the 1.4 million Palestinians, only 156,000 of them could remain in the land after their exodus, Nakba. About 531 Palestinian cities and villages were ethnically cleansed and completely demolished in this period. 800,000 were displaced. In 2009, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics counted that the number of refugees had grown to 6.8 million people. Ethnic cleansing of Palestine is constantly increasing, especially since 1967, when the West Bank and Gaza fell under Israeli control, putting the Palestinian People in a status of constant fear. Israeli control did not diminish even after the Oslo Accords in 1993, which seen the creation of the Palestinian Authority body.

The Palestinian Authority now controls less than 27% of what once was Palestine.

Click here to follow the girls on their journey.