The Sons of Eilaboun

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The Sons of Eilaboun (Eilabun)

On October 30, 1948, the Israeli Army marched into the northern Galilee village of Eilaboun (عيلبون). My uncle Badia Zreiq and 17 other men from the village, who had been hiding with the rest of the village in two churches, were marched to the village square. The rest of the village residents were marched out of the village to the Lebanese border.

The chosen men in the square stood waiting, hands on their heads while the Israeli soldiers huddled in discussion. An officer stepped forward,

“We need three men,” the Israeli officer shouted to. Three men stood up and were marched off with the soldiers. Moments later, three shots were heard. The soldiers returned,

“Three more men,” Three more shots. And so on, until only three men remained in the square, my uncle Badia among them. These three were lined up and they shot at point blank range with an automatic rifle in the square.

Even now more than fifty years later my father cannot recall the incidents of that day without sobbing. He not only lost his brother, but he, and everyone in his village became refugees. When they finally returned to their village, they scarcely recognized it. Everything of value had been looted. What the soldiers could not carry off they destroyed.

Sadly, the elderly residents of Eilaboun are not the only ones that repeat such stories to their children and grandchildren. The story of Eilaboun was repeated hundreds of times across the land that today is called Israel. The killing expulsion and looting of these villages was a tactic that was spelled out in a document called Plan Dalet developed by the high command of the Israeli Army to rid the future State of Israel of its Arab inhabitants, which it saw as a threat.

The sons of Eilaboun (أبناء عيلبون) tells the story of the human toll that Plan Dalet claimed on in a single one of these villages. The story is told through the mouths of the men and women who witnessed the atrocities committed on that fall day in 1948 – men and women who are determined not to let the horrors of this brutal plan be forgotten. It is a story - at times brutal, at times inspiring - that traces the struggle of the people of Eilaboun to hold onto their existence, their history, and their pride against a world that is intent to cover up the events that changed their lives forever.

By Timothy Hanes