105 yr old Nakba survivor tells her story of having to flee her village and abandon her family home in Palestine

By Middle East Affairs

Hakma Atallah is a 105-year-old survivor of the Nakbah in 1948, she was forced to flee from her village Al-Swafeer, along with 700,000 other Palestinians who were ordered to leave their homes.

Atallah now lives with her 65-year-old daughter and her 19-year-old granddaughter in Beach Camp, west of Gaza City, tucked away in her memory she remembers the day she left her village.

“When I fled from Al-Swafeer, I was 35 years old, married and had five children. I remember my house very well, and I will never forget it. It was a big home with four rooms and we had a nice garden,” Hakma said. With a gentle, melancholic tone, she recalls: “What I remember the most about these old days is how women used to gather around the fire, baking bread and then eating it with cheese,” and she adds that “sometimes I close my eyes and try to remember my last night in Al-Swafeer. I imagine myself with my husband and children sitting in the front of our home drinking tea and chit-chatting. I wish I could go back to that day.”


Haneen (19 years old) listens to her grandmother Hakma tell stories of life in Al-Swafeer. Hakma fled from her original village Al-Swafeer in 1948 when she was 35 years old. Nakba survivor and Palestine refugee living in Beach Camp, west of Gaza City.

She remembers, “Gaza, and particularly the Beach Camp, is where my family and I have been living for five generations. It is where all my grandchildren were born, got their degrees, married and had children. But it’s not like my original village, where I was born, spent my childhood and then got married. There, I had my own land where I used to plant grapes and raise cows and goats.”

Haneen Atallah, the granddaughter of Hakma, says, “Every day the family gathers around my grandmother and asks her to talk with us about Al-Swafeer. She used to tell us about the calm nights and nice weather there. She talks with us about the Nakba day and how the family fled from one village to another until they finally reached Gaza where they stayed in tents. I really can’t imagine how difficult these days must have been.”

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