Chatila camp (Lebanon) (AFP)
From walking in rallies to posting live updates on social media, Palestinian refugee Mira Krayem has barely slept since conflict struck her ancestral homeland earlier this month.
But the 24-year-old student, who lives in Lebanon, said she felt messages of solidarity for the Palestinian cause from around the world made her and her fellow activists feel invigorated after years. crushing defeat.
“It makes us feel like we have a voice,” said Krayem, on a rooftop overlooking Shatila, the tightly packed Beirut refugee camp where she was born, one of some 475,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
In 11 days of violence before a ceasefire was declared last week, Israeli planes and artillery shelled Gaza, the stranded Palestinian coastal enclave of two million people led by the Islamist group Hamas, which fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
With graphic images of the Israeli bombings and Hamas rocket attacks broadcast live on television networks, supporters on both sides have taken to social media to express their anger.
The United States and other states have stressed Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets fired by Hamas, but rights groups have spoken out against the destruction inflicted on the enclave.
# photo1 As the death toll rose – especially on the Palestinian side, given Israel’s air superiority and its Iron Dome missile defense system stopping most of Hamas’ rockets – there were growing expressions of solidarity for the people of Gaza as thousands of people were homeless with entire towers. exploded into dust.
– “Makes you feel alive” –
During the bombing, hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese marched through Beirut, echoing similar rallies in support of Gaza held in countries around the world.
# photo2British pop star Dua Lipa and Palestinian-born models Bella and Gigi Hadid posted messages of support for Palestinian rights – in turn sparking messages of solidarity from those who support Israel’s right to to defend oneself.
He gave the impetus to the Palestinian refugees to continue to defend their cause.
“It’s tiring, but it’s tiring in a beautiful way,” said Krayem, a Palestinian flag drawn on his black sweater.
“It makes you feel alive and close to Palestine. “
Krayem’s energy is emblematic of a generation born long after what Palestinians call the Nakba – the “catastrophe” – when more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes by the 1948 war that took hold. led to the creation of the State of Israel.
Almost three-quarters of a century later, their number has grown to millions scattered around the world.
Most live in the countries of the surrounding region of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria – countries all bordering on Israel – where they are often marginalized.
Israel challenges their right of return.
The recent normalization agreements between Israel and the Arab states looked like another nail in the coffin of the Palestinian cause.
But the tragedy of the recent crisis has brought people together.
“Everyone in the camp is looking for a way to help… and the talks about Palestine haven’t stopped,” said Krayem, who also works as a volunteer to teach children about Palestinian history and culture.
“All these people, who were so distracted by the economic crisis or the coronavirus pandemic in Lebanon, they all started talking about returning again,” she added.
“You can hear people saying things like ‘tomorrow when we come back’.
– ‘Our time is up’ –
For her elderly grandmother Rahma Abdul Qader in the Syrian capital Damascus – one of some 438,000 Palestinian refugees in the country – she fears it is too late for her to return one day.
Qader left Jaffa – now a mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood of Tel Aviv – in 1948, when she was nine years old.
“Even after all these years, the image of this place is fresh in my mind,” she told AFP, surrounded by her family. “I talk to my grandchildren about it all the time. ”
Unlike Krayem, she has no hope of seeing her homeland again.
“Our time is up,” she said. “But maybe my grandchildren will come back one day, because justice will always win in the end. “
Her 55-year-old daughter Iman said she was touched by the messages of support.
“Palestinians have felt isolated in recent years,” said.
“But after everything that’s happened, it feels like we have people on our side. “
© 2021 AFP