The remains of hundreds of Palestinians killed in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War have been discovered in six mass grave sites in a Muslim cemetery in Tel Aviv’s Jaffa district.
An official of the Kazkhana cemetery said on Friday that the gruesome finding took place on May 29, when the ground caved in as workers carried out renovations.
Eighty-year-old Atar Zeinab said that as a teenager he helped collect the bodies of people killed during the final months of fighting in 1948 and brought them for hurried burials in the graveyard.
"I carried to the cemetery 60 bodies during a period of three or four months," he stated. "We used to find the people in the street and most of the time we didn't know who they were."
Due to the danger of being hit by flying bullets or grenade shrapnel, bodies were dumped one on top of the other in family crypts in the cemetery, contrary to Muslim custom, Zeinab added.
"We carried them early in the morning or in the night," he said. "We put women, children, and men in the same place… nobody prayed for these people."
The al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage stated that the new discoveries are the remains of people killed during the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland and the establishment of Israel 65 years ago.
They were killed in the shelling of residential neighborhoods or by snipers located around Jaffa.
Jaffa used to be a Palestinian town. However, it was expropriate, and its Arab population was expelled en masse when the town fell to the Israeli army and militiamen in 1948. It was incorporated into the city of Tel Aviv in 1950.
Palestinians refer to the May 15, 1948 occupation of Palestine as the Nakba Day, which means the Day of the Catastrophe in Arabic, to solemnly commemorate the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.
Israeli forces have wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map, leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees hoping for an eventual return to their homeland more than six decades later.
Since 1948, the Israeli regime has denied Palestinian refugees the right of return, despite United Nations resolutions and international laws that uphold the people’s right to return to their homeland.