Isa was sixteen in 1967, when the bombings began and people feared what would happen when the Jews came. Many fled to Jordan. Isa and his mother and brother and other members of the family hid in a cave near Bir Nabala. When, after ten day, they returned to their homes in Nabi Samuel, they found them empty of any belongings; looted by the soldiers. Jars of honey had disappeared, mattresses, crockery; there wasn't very much, after all, they say. And they more or less resumed the lives they had led.
The village houses were mostly scattered near the old mosque compound. It had been a small village even back then; built near the ruins still there of the old village, destroyed during the fighting between the Turks and the British in 1917.
On March 23rd, 1971, at five or six in the morning, army troops arrived with trucks and bulldozers to demolish the village of Nabi Samuel. You have one hour to evacuate, they were told.
They took whatever they could, which wasn't much, and the army began to demolish their homes with their remaining belongings inside; to the ground.
"Why are you demolishing our home"? asked Isa's fourteen-year old nephew Kamaal, and was beaten in answer. "Go over to those houses", yelled the soldiers and chased them away to a group of houses further off, at the edge of the village, belonging to people who had fled to Jordan and now stood empty.
And there they went.
Isa's mother and her family were given one room. So were the other families. One room for each family. Each room adjoining the other.
You may build an outhouse of corrugated iron sheet, they were told, and they did. The village was razed to the ground, and the whole area renamed a 'park'
Since then, the villagers have not been allowed to build anything. Time and time again they ask for building permits, which they, routinely, never receive. They, however, are forced to build without permits, for they have children. And the children eventually need a place too. And the roof, sometimes, needs repair. And one needs a new chicken coop, and this is their land; so they build. And then the Occupation forces arrive and 'lawfully' demolish their 'unlawful' construction.
Throughout the years the pressure of the Occupation authorities has become greater. Not only are the villagers forbidden to build, but also to work. Almost all of them are no longer issued permits to enter into Israel, which means as they mostly depend upon their employment in Israel, barely any work. But there is no other option, but to try. And they do. Try sneaking into Israel to work and bring food. Which is apparently forbidden, just as is building a school, a clinic, a sewer or anything else under the sun.
Isa had still remained convinced after all those years that all of it was some kind of a mistake. There hadn't been an attempt to expel them from their land. Nor had it been a hell-bent ethnic cleansing. All that had been done to them, he was convinced, was only because most Jews didn't know.
Had they known, he insisted on believing, how could they have allow that to be done to him and to his village and to his people.
Then they arrested his son Majed once again because he had entered Israel to work and earn a livelihood for all of them. And something in Isa was broken asunder.