In the early years after its establishment, Israel committed a slew of expulsions and demolitions in Palestinian villages in the country. In Khirbet Jalameh, a small hamlet in the Triangle area, for instance, all 70 residents were forcibly removed, their fields taken, and their homes destroyed – all in order to make way for the establishment of the kibbutz community of Lehavot Haviva. The Nadaf family, which owned few hundred dunams of land, fought the expulsion all the way to Israel’s Supreme Court, but even the court’s finding that “the Applicants’ removal from their lands was carried out without any legal foundation and without any justification,” did little to help the family regain possession of their property.
Lehavot Haviva Kibbutz
“I should be grateful if you could verify the situation for me.” This was the only sentence the Attorney General added to his reprinting of the entire telegram sent by Muhammad Nadaf to the President of the Supreme Court after Khirbet Jalameh homes were blasted by members of the Lehavot Haviva kibbutz. The letter was addressed to a host of senior officials, including the Head of the Military Rule, the Head of Police Investigations and the Head of the Jewish Agency Settlement Department.
The Khirbet Jalameh Affair
In a detailed letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Acting Prime Minister Mosheh Sharet, the Arab Affairs Advisor provides an account of the events surrounding the expulsion of Khirbet Jalameh residents, including the Nadaf family. He mentions specifically that the expulsion was undertaken without any legal authority and that the individuals who were expelled were not considered absentees. A Supreme Court petition filed by the Nadaf family also culminated in a ruling that the expulsion was unjustified. The letter was written as the Haifa District Court was making its decision in the compensation claim filed by the family. The Advisor remarked: “Insiders and legal experts believe the plaintiffs will win the case.”
A cry for help in the name of justice, humanity, compassion and mercy
Some six years after being expelled from Khirbet Jalameh with the rest of his family, the patriarch, Mahmoud Nadaf, wrote to Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. Nadaf lyrically describes what became of his family: “A single, small, dark and narrow room – that is our fate in the State of Israel, and that is the life forced upon us by the Israeli authorities […] We descended into this state, this life, in 1950, forced by the sword of the IDF, which, though we had done nothing wrong, exiled us from our places of residence, our lands and our homes, uprooted what we had planted, destroyed the structures and rendered us destitute.”