Palestinian stories: The Sweet Umm Aziz

19.09.2014 - Irene Tuzi

This post is also available in: Italian

Palestinian stories: The Sweet Umm Aziz
(Image by Irene Tuzi)

Also published in Italian on Frontiere News

11 /09/2014 – In a few days, on September 16, it will be my birthday. It will also be the anniversary of one of the most horrible events of the story of Palestinians – the Sabra and Shatila massacre, committed from the 16th to the 18th of September 1982. While I was in Lebanon, I had the chance to meet many people who experienced and survived the massacre and I found out, through their stories, that it was much more horrible than I could possibly think, that people were killed starting from the 14th of September, taken outside of the camps by Israeli and Kataeb soldiers and buried alive in a hole dug near the camps. The actual massacre that we all know started two days later with the Kataeb forces entering the camps and the Israeli soldiers enlightening the camps from outside for them.

One of the most touching stories that I have been told in Lebanon was actually about this. I want to share it because the person that told me the story is a special woman and her story an important evidence of how much Palestinian people suffered also outside of their land. Israel is the first responsible of all of their tragedies, and it is important to point that out one more time.

Umm Aziz lives in Burj el-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. She is a small woman living by herself in a cozy house. She has pictures of her four sons in the wall, whom she had lost during the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982 – and because of that she is now called Umm Shohada (mother of the martyrs). Beside those pictures, she placed a photo of Mohammed Assaf, the 2013 Arab Idol, as she is a fan of him and he went to visit her once. She is sick but still very lucid and when I went to visit her, with my friend Zeinab and our guide Mohammad, she told us the story of her life and the horrible events she went through – the Nakba and Sabra and Shatila massacre. She survived most of her children and she still hops that some of them are alive.

I want to share her story because she is really special and her kindness and her strength gave me a lot of positive feelings.

Here is her story:

«My name is Umm Aziz, I was 18-years-old during the Nakba. I was born in Akka district, in the north of Palestine, I was married and I had two daughters at that time. In 1948 Israel attacked our village and surrounded it with tanks. My husband escaped before me and I was left alone with my two kids. I escaped too but I left some of my family members behind. Though, I had the fortune to go and visit them in Palestine two times after the Nakba. My two daughters, 1-month-old and 1-year-old, both died 21 days after Nakba, due to a big infection in their lungs.

In Lebanon I had a hard life too. I lived as a refugee in Sabra and Shatila camp and I was there during the ’82 massacre, with my sons, daughters and my husband – he was later killed by Amal militia during the 1985 war of the camps. The morning of the 14th of September 1982, two days before the Kataeb forces entered the camps and committed the massacre, we were having breakfast all together when suddenly somebody burst into our house – they were Israeli soldiers. They took my four sons, brought them to their knees and pointed rifles on their heads, then they took them away without giving them the time to dress or to finish their breakfast. I ran after them until the entrance of Shatila camp, in the area where Rihab Station is today, I didn’t want to leave them alone and I wanted to go with them, wherever Israel was taking them. Outside of the camp there were a lot of youths in their knees, Israeli soldiers took my babies and put them together with the others and started to beat them up with the rifles. I was yelling and crying but they pushed me behind. Then they took all of them and loaded them on a truck and Israeli soldiers told me: “if you want to come along we will kill you too”, then the truck left. I ran after it crying, I was desperate, they had taken my babies!» She cries and she makes all of us crying too – Mohammed goes out of the house to cry alone and Zeinab hugs her, waiting for her to feel better and go on with the story. «I didn’t want to leave my babies alone, but I couldn’t reach the truck. That was the last time that I saw my children.

After a while I have been told that all of those guys were taken to the Sport City near the camp, where Israel and Kataeb forces together digged a big hole and pushed all of them inside it. They were buried alive in the hole. We know that because some of those youths could escape from that hell and told us about. Then, after the end of the war, U.N. found the hole and the bodies. I still don’t know if my children were there or if they could escape somehow, but I like to think that they are still alive and they are living a better life now. Someone told me once that he saw one of my babies and he asked me money to give me more information about, and other people told me they were in a Lebanese or Syrian prison but they weren’t correct information and nobody found them until now. My children were 30, 25, 22 and 13-years-old at that time and they were between the 17.000 Palestinians missing during the civil war. That’s my life, I went through a lot… but I still have three daughters alive – one of them is living in Sweden and the others here in the camp.»

Categories: International, Interviews, Middle East
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