Letter from Zakaria Elnatour, a refugee, to a Jewish student
By: From Zakaria Elnatour to Gil Shner
03/2009

"Dear Gil

Try to send you all info through office word, but no chance, my computer only write from left to right and you know Arabic language is from right to left, so I'll answer all your questions in English, hope can help you.

The village is in the middle between Acre an Naharia, around the village as I know more than five Zionist settlements, and to the south of the village there was a British military camp, both the camp and the settlements were making troubles in our life , the settlements mostly every night were shooting any one from the village they saw.

The British soldiers also made our life like hell, and I remember one day a big military truck was hitting my father's store and I was there, but god saved me. I disappeared and in the end they found me but Am still alive.

The relation between the village people and the Palestinian Jews was very good, we visited them and they visited us in all occasions, we were medicated at Naharia clinics and hospitals, an alderman from Naharia was a good friend to the village, and many times I heared him saying to us: be careful, there are bad days will come, and that happened, when one early morning around thirty trucks entered the village, the soldiers was dressed Arabian style, so we thought they are Arabs coming to defend us, but they began shooting every one they saw. Most of the residences escaped to the north, because the Zionists made a save side in the north to kick out everyone, we escaped to Lebanon, through Albassa and Tarshiha. After we left the village the Zionists destroyed all the village except the mosque and old Romanian building.

In Lebanon we lived around one month in a village called Tyrharfa, with no clothes, non food and with little money my father was carrying in his pocket.

After they asked us to move to Tyre City (Sour) from there they took us by train to Aleppo –Syria. 95 percent of the village people stayed in Ein Elhelwa Refugee camp. We reached Aleppo, they put us in Elnyrab Camp. After one month they moved us to a Syrian village called Altamanaa, from there also moved to a city called Maarat Alno'aman, from there to Hamah city. That what happened to my family.

After that we knew that all the village people are in Ein elhelwa camp to the South of Sayda city in Lebanon. With some help from our people we returned to Ein elhelwa in Lebanon, and we stayed in tents, and imagine what was happening to us in winter or summer under the tent.

The Red Cross gave us tents and food, and opened for us school, I studied there.

The connection between me and the village people is still going, they phone and I phone them in all occasions, my big brother stays with his family in Damascus, the second one in Aleppo. Now in Ein elhelwa there are three sisters and two brothers with there families. I have also three sisters married and living in Jordan , I visited my three sisters in Jordan after I became an American citizen, because with the Refugee Lebanese travel document the authorities of Jordan don't let me in. Also my big daughter lives now with her husband and three children in Cairo, last time I visited them was in 2000 .

As I told you I can write to you better and more in Arabic, but I will try to find a solution for that, also there are a TV station did an interview with the Alderman of the village two years ago, he remember better than me, so I will contact that station to send me a copy of the interview, as they promised, when I receive it I'll send copy to you. Hope this gives an idea. Thank you for taking care of my village info."

And my best regards

Zakaria Elnatour 

The letter was published in Zochrot's booklet, Remembering al-Sumayriyya.

Zochrot online