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February 2, 2000
Meet Manar, 13
I first met her in the Ibdaa office. She explained a painting on the wall. It shows the tents the refugees lived in before building shelters in the camp. A dove carries a key in its beak: the key of the original houses that the refugees used to live in.
"My parents teach me to love my camp. It might not be beautiful, but the people are beautiful. Everybody here is like a brother, sister, parents."
21 October 1948: This village is destroyed as a result of direct military assault. The oral history says that soldiers came and said the villagers had four hours to leave their houses. The soldiers then placed bombs inside the houses, and blew them up.
In 1944, there were 620 Arabs living here, in a little more than a hundred houses. The villagers planted olive trees, vegetables, fruit trees, and grape vines on a flat area nearby.
Harus is the Hebrew word for "demolished." Israeli forces during Operation ha-Har meant to expand their access to Jerusalem, and in doing so, demolished Ras Abu 'Ammar and other villages. "These stones, I think, are full of blood," says Manar, as she shows me a shoe left over from the bombings.
Ras Abu 'Ammar used to sit on a hill surrounded on three sides by the deep Wadi al-Sarar. Forest surrounds the village.
"I'm not like girls in America. They can play, they can do anything. But not me." There are now approximately 4.5 million Palestinian refugees, spread here and throughout the world.
The site around Ras Abu 'Ammar has been turned into a public park.
"I imagine seeing the village as laughing and crying. First, laughing, because it is the new generation that is coming to visit it. But crying, too, because it has been alone for 52 years." Manar was relatively calm while she explored the ruins of her village. Only later did her tears start to fall.
The truth must be spoken.
Do not forget your ancestors, young ones.
Do not forget where you come from.
If you do not know where you come from,
you cannot know where you are going
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