The Institute for Palestine Studies in Beirut recently released a new book in Arabic on Palestinian detainees and the first Israeli prisons, 1948-1949, by professor Mustafa Kabha and writer Wadih Awawdeh. The book deals with the documentation and analysis of the detention camps created by Zionist and then Israeli forces who captured Palestinians and Arabs during the Nakba and the occupation of Palestinian towns and villages in 1948.
The book includes original research as well as archival materials from the Israeli archives and the Red Cross archives, books and diaries by some of those who were in prison, and dozens of oral histories and interviews with detainees who were still alive during the research.
The book examines the labour camps created by Israeli authorities for the detainees as a starting point and a landmark in the relationship between Palestinians in ’48 and the institutions of the state since this critical phase.
The book documents the arrests of thousands of Palestinians, including those who participated in military resistance and those who did not, as well as the motivation of the incoming Zionist state to establish a structure of prisons, attempt to suppress Palestinian resistance, and attempt to break the will of the Palestinians that remained on the land after mass displacement and ethnic cleansing, through forced labour. The prisoners’ testimonies carry a heavy burden of pain and psychological wounds from their experiences; the testimonies recall beatings, abuse, hunger and deprivation. Despite the importance of the issue, these testimonies have not been prominent in Palestinian narratives and have been largely ignored by Israeli historians, old and “new.” The book aims to fill a gap in this awareness and document Palestinian oral testimony as the primary source in the writing of Palestinian history.