Idlib, Syria – In a small house in northwest Syria, Muhammad Haninun sits spellbound in front of his cell phone, following the latest Israeli attacks in Gaza.

For more than a month, he has been watching videos of the Israeli bombing of Gaza and the displacement of civilians trying to escape the bombardment. At the same time, the events bring back clear memories of what he had to go through 75 years ago.

The 80-year-old is left to ponder the similarities between what he sees in Gaza and what he experienced when he and his family lived during the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” in 1948, when Israel was founded, and more when 750,000 people were displaced Palestinians were forcibly removed from their land and thousands were killed.

“The Palestinian tragedy is happening again,” Haninun said. “The people of Gaza are at war and are not receiving the same help as we did before.”

Eighty-year-old Muhammad Haninun, pictured with his six-year-old grandson Mahmoud, is determined to one day return to Palestine [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

“A broken record”

Since the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas broke through the separation barrier surrounding Gaza and attacked southern Israel on October 7, Western countries, led by the United States, have rushed to condemn the movement, which has ruled the besieged Gaza Strip since 2006.

The condemnation followed Western financial and military support for Israel, which has been relentlessly bombarding Gaza, one of the world’s most densely populated areas, for 35 days. At least 10,812 Palestinians, including 4,412 children, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7. More than 1,400 people were killed in Israel.

Similarly, in the first half of the 20th century, Britain provided the Zionists with military support in the form of protection and weapons, encouraged Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine, and allowed them to drive hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes while building a new one Build a house for yourself.

In November 1948, Israeli aircraft bombed the northern village of Tarshiha in the Acre countryside, destroying three houses – including Haninun’s family home – and killing seven of his relatives.

“Previously, we had evacuated our homes several times for two or three days and then returned. We didn’t take anything with us,” he recalled. “We thought we would return, especially since we were unable to recover the dead from under the rubble.”

But they never could.

Haninun, then five years old, and four members of his family had to move between seven cities in Lebanon and Syria before being allowed to stay in a refugee camp in Aleppo, a “tragic” environment with a small room for each family. No kitchen, no bathroom, no running water and no shared toilets.

He remembers Arab radio stations and governments promising the Palestinians a quick return – after seven days, then after seven weeks, then after seven months, until more than seven decades had passed.

“This cracked record has been playing since 1948, when people fled from one village to another, only to be subjected to subsequent massacres because the enemy viewed ‘others’ as animals and killed them like livestock – and that logic still applies.” same thing today.”

Haninun moved to the Syrian capital Damascus to study history. He then worked as a teacher in Aleppo and lived in the camp there until the Syrian war forced him to flee to Idlib in 2014. But what he still longs for is the chance to one day return to Palestine – to his roots.

“There is still hope,” Haninun said. “If I die before I return to Palestine, I will tell my children and grandchildren that you have a right to this land and we are its true owners.”

Scouts gather in downtown Idlib to show support for Gaza [Ali Haj Suleiman/Al Jazeera]

Strengthening the Palestinian cause

On Thursday, the Ain Jalut Scouts and the Syrian Private Scouts marched through downtown Idlib, just one of the many activities carried out in the area in recent weeks in support of Gaza.

Ayman Muhammad, 40, a displaced Palestinian residing in the city in northwestern Syria and a scout leader with the Ain Jalut group, told Al Jazeera that the injustice that Palestinians have endured for 75 years is the motivation for holding protests as well as for fundraising and providing support is through social media.

The Israeli war against Gaza has strengthened the Palestinian cause, believes Mohammed. “Today, from one end to the other, the West and the East stand with the Palestinian people against aggression.”

In October, demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people took place in major cities around the world to demand a ceasefire in Gaza and freedom for Palestine.

The Palestinians in Idlib cannot stand idly by, said Mohammed. Despite the difficult economic and security conditions in Idlib, members of the Palestinian community and Syrian supporters here have managed to raise about $400,000 in donations for Gaza, he added.

Syrian activists also took part in demonstrations in support of Palestine, despite government troops and Russian warplanes bombing gatherings in the country’s last rebel stronghold.

For Palestinians in northern Syria experiencing the war in Syria, the Syrian revolution and the Palestinian cause are now inextricably linked, Mohammed believes. “Victory will come for both reasons, because the right will not be lost as long as we demand it,” he said.

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