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Affidavit No.3478/2007

Sworn Statement

After having been warned to tell the truth and nothing but the truth or else I shall be subjected to penal action, I, the undersigned, 'Ali Nimer Ahmad Salma, of Palestinian nationality, holder of ID No. 951400415, born in 1930, unemployed and a resident of Bitouniya, Ramallah Governorate, would like to declare the following:

I am a Palestinian citizen living in the Bitouniya neighbourhood of Ramallah. I was born in Yalo village, one of villages of Latroun. I lived there until 1967, when I was displaced by the Israeli army.

On 5 June 1967 at approximately 10:00 am, as I was in the fields picking crops with residents of our village, we heard, through the Arab Voice Radio, that war had broken out between the Israeli army and the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies. I left the field and went directly to my home, located west of the village. I did not see any of the Jordanian army soldiers who were usually in the village. There was also no Israeli army presence. I was tense and alert, waiting with the other villagers, listening the whole time to the Arab Voice Radio to follow the progress of the war. Three vehicles carrying around 140 Egyptian commandos arrived at the village at approximately 6:30 pm. Some of the villagers, including myself, and the Palestinian national security officials, received the Egyptian commandos, who went to the village spring, rested and drank water.

I still remember the evening of 5 June 1967. At approximately 9:00 pm, the Egyptian commandos asked about the Israelis’ location in order to attack them. The Palestinian security forces pointed out a lit outpost. Immediately, the Egyptian commandos went there, across the fields. As they reached the far side, where the Israeli settlement was located, I heard heavy firing and artillery explosions. The firing continued for approximately an hour and a half. While I was watching the situation with one of the villagers (it was by now about 10:00 pm), I saw the lights of dozens of military vehicles and tanks approaching the village from the west, i.e. the Israeli side. The advance of the Israeli vehicles was accompanied by heavy firing from their side without any retaliation. The same sounds were repeated frequently.

At around 2:00 am on 6 June 1967, hundreds of Palestinian civilians from the neighbouring ’Imwas village, which is the closest to the Israeli border, arrived in our village. Groups of men, women and children arrived in a state of extreme fear and panic. They told us that the Israeli army had occupied ’Imwas and al-Latroun. Indeed, they had seen the soldiers occupying the Jordanian army military camp in ’Imwas, and the Israeli soldiers had ordered them to leave the village and go towards Ramallah. As I looked at the road joining our village with ’Imwas, I saw that it was full of displaced Palestinians.

At around 4:00 am, I heard strong and intensive shooting directed at our village. I looked and saw that it was coming from the mountain overlooking our village. At 6:00 am, I received news that the Israeli soldiers were marching towards our village after having occupied ’Imwas and displaced its residents. Upon hearing this, I got two mattresses, two blankets, my winter coat and some of my children onto my camel. I had seven children. The eldest was Mariyam (ten years old) and the youngest was Fadel (three months old). I left the village with my wife and seven children. We went towards Beit Liqiya village. My parents and my sister Fatima remained in the village, refusing to leave.

As we were walking on the roads of the village, I saw dozens of Israeli tanks. Some of them were going towards nearby Beit Nouba. The Israeli soldiers saw us but did not do anything. We were walking with hundreds of civilians from both our village and ’Imwas village. We passed by Beit Liqiya village, where we saw the corpses of two Egyptian soldiers on the road. Near Beit Liqiya village, my family and I sat under the olives trees. We did not have any food or water. All were tired and hungry, especially my children, and Fadel in particular.

The weather was hot. After we had rested for roughly an hour, we resumed our trip towards Beit 'Our al-Foqa village. We reached there at around 1:00 pm. The road to Beit 'Our was not manned by any Israeli soldiers. After taking an hour’s rest, we continued on to al-Tira village. As we entered the village, we passed by a military camp belonging to the Jordanian army. We saw three dead bodies on the side of the road. We knew that they were Jordanian soldiers from their uniform. My family and I, and hundreds of others, continued our walk until we reached 'Ein 'Abdallah near Bitouniya, west of Ramallah.

To the east of 'Ein 'Abdallah, I encountered dozens of Israeli soldiers who spoke to me in Arabic and said that it was prohibited to walk on the roads; that we had to go to Ramallah through the valleys and fields. We continued our march to Ramallah through the fields. We went down a big valley far away from the main roads. At the time of evening prayers, around 6:30 pm, we reached the old town of Bitouniya. There, we spent a night in an old deserted house without food or water. That was on 6 June 1967. Everyone was taking care of his family and himself as if it were Judgment Day. In the morning, I went to Ramallah city where I met one of the villagers called Jarad Muhammad Nassar. He was carrying a number of loaves of bread. I asked him for one. He gave it to me and I went directly to my family to give it to them.

The following night, we slept in Ramallah al-Tahta (Lower Ramallah). Early on the morning of 7 June 1967, I left my children sleeping and went to see an old friend named Mohammad Issa, who was living in Ramallah. Mohammad Issa owns a blacksmith workshop. I asked him to give me an axe, which I took. I went straight to the UNRWA stores in al-Sahel Street in Ramallah. I broke the doors of the stores along with dozens of civilians, and took a sack of flour.

At around noon on 8 June 1967, I heard a voice calling loudly for the residents of ’Imwas, Beit Nouba and Yalo, saying that the Israelis would allow them to return to their villages. I took my family and camel and set out with hundreds of residents to return to our villages and houses. As I reached the Beit Liqiya intersection, I met dozens of my village’s inhabitants who told me that the Israeli army had prevented them from returning to the village.

I turned back with sadness and concern because we did not have food, money or clothes. We reached the mosque of Kharbatha al-Misbah, where we sat a corner and spent the night. We spent four days in the mosque. At around 3:00 am on 12 June 1967, I prepared my camel and went to my village accompanied by my cousin Mustafa 'Abd-al-Rahim without telling anybody. When we reached Beit Nouba village, I met one of the resident of my village, Mohammad Hasan Nawwas. He told me that he had been on his way to the village, but had seen two corpses under the olive trees along the way, which frightened him into turning back. I was not scared, and continued until I reached the dead bodies. They were the corpses of 'Ali Ahmad al-'Arab and Sabha 'Abdallah Abu-Dayya, both from Yalo village.

I reached our village, which I found was completely empty. The doors of houses were open and other houses were destroyed and their walls reduced to rubble. I entered my house, took three mattresses, three blankets and some food supplies such as lentils and chickpeas, as well as a goat, and left. Near my house in the village, I met 'Abd-al-Karim Mahmoud Nimer who was carrying some things on his two donkeys. He told me to leave before him and that he would leave when he was finished.

As I was passing Beit Liqiya, I met al-'Abed Tayeh and Ibrahim Shu'eibi, two fellow residents of my village. They were going to Yalo, our village. They asked me if I had met any Israelis on the way to Yalo, and I told them that I had not. They continued their walk to Yalo and I continued to Ramallah. I reached Kharbatha where I had left my family. I spent several nights in Kharbatha with my family, with the feeling that it would be possible to return to our village.

After 20 days (towards the end of June), I, together with another resident of my village, went to Yalo through the valleys, mountains and fields. As we reached the Beit Nouba fields, I saw four corpses laid out beside each other. They were: Ibrahim Shu'eibi, al-'Abed Tayeh, Zuheir Zuhdi and 'Isa Abu-'Isa. All of them were from Yalo. I did not examine the corpses because they were swollen. We entered the village at around midnight. We first went to the demolished home of Abu-Wasim where we saw the body of 'Isa Ziyada and more demolished houses. We were both very scared. We both took some stuff from the rubble of his house and left to go back towards Kharbatha.

It is worth noting that many of my village’s residents left for the East Bank of the Jordan River while I lived in Kharbatha for four years. I rented a house and worked by cultivating crops for some of the village’s families.

Affidavit Details

  • Affidavit Number: 3478/2007
  • Field researcher: Manaf Abbas
  • Affidavit Date: 18 March 2007
  • Name: 'Ali Nimer Ahmad Salma
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