JAFFA, Israel. During a restoration project at the historic Al-Kazakhana cemetery workers discovered “nozzles” leading to the mass graves with hundreds of skeletons of Palestinians killed during the Nakba and 1936 uprising.
During a restoration project repairing gravesites which had collapsed due to natural conditions at the Al-Kazakhana cemetery in Jaffa, workers for the al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage, an NGO based in the city of Umm al-Fahm, discovered the existence of six mass graves with hundreds of skeletons of Palestinians who perished during the Nakba in 1948 and the uprising in 1936.
The al-Aqsa Foundation issued a report on Wednesday (Arabic) titled Jaffa mass graves for victims of the Nakba and the revolution of 1936. The mass graves support documented oral histories collected from Palestinians who lived through the Nakba. Historians have documented testimonies recounting scenes of massacres in Jaffa and the surrounding area from eyewitness who saw piles of bodies scattered thoughout neighborhoods of Jaffa.
“During [the foundation’s] repair and maintenance work on the [Kazkhana] cemetery, we discovered nozzles to dig into the ground where we found the mass graves…including hundreds of skeletons and human remains of rebels, martyrs and civilians who perished during the Nakba,” head of the Islamic Movement in Jaffa, Sheikh Mohammed Najem, said in the report.
The foundation has proved the remains date back to the victims killed in the 1948 war, whether from bombings and shelling of residential neighborhoods or snipers located around the city, the report said.
“The Kazkhana cemetery has exposed the historical facts that Israel has tried to hide and erase for over 65 years relating to the massacres committed by Zionist gangs during the 1948 Palestinian Nakba,” it read.
“These mass graves have banished all doubts of the certainty of oral histories collected by historians of people who lived through the Nakba of 1948 and parts of the war documenting massacres in Jaffa and its suburbs,” the report added.
Update: Agence France-Presse – (AFP) report includes the recollection of ‘hasty burials’ in the final months of fighting in ’48:
Jaffa fisherman Atar Zeinab, 80, says that as a teenager during the final months of fighting in 1948 he helped to collect the Arab dead in the area south of Jaffa and bring them for hasty burial in the cemetery, the area’s main graveyard.
“I carried to the cemetery 60 bodies during a period of three or four months,” he told AFP. “We used to find the people in the street and most of the time we didn’t know who they were.”
He said that the danger of being hit by flying bullets or grenade fragments was such that bodies were dumped one on top of the other in existing family crypts in the cemetery, contrary to Muslim custom.
“We carried them early in the morning or in the night,” he added. “We put women, children and men in the same place… nobody prayed for these people.