Hajji Ismail Ali Nashwan was born in 1929 in the Palestinian village of Duwaima. In the 1948 attack on Duwaima west of the city of al-Halil (Hebron) by the 89th Battalion led by Moshe Dayan from Zionist Haganah and Lehi organizations, over 400 village residents were massacred and the rest were forced out of the village. Nashwan is an eye witness of the raid. He was arrested by Israeli forces and sent to exile in Jordan after a two-year jail term. He has lived in Jordan since then.
Nashwan lives with the dream of returning to his homeland. He took part in the land convoy to Gaza in January 2010 and the following Freedom Flotilla with his son Mustafa Ismail Nashwan (born 1969). His account of what happened onboard the Mavi Marmara is included in the book “Freedom Flotilla through Language of Global Conscience: Interviews with Passengers,” published by IHH Book. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
We heard a loud sound as we were praying; sounds of zodiacs, battle frigates, aircrafts, and bullets… I rushed to the edge of the boat to look at the sea. I saw zodiac boats on the side of the ship and several soldiers were trying to board, while some other soldiers were shooting blast bombs and rubber bullets. I think they were also using live bullets against passengers on the upper deck.
At that moment I showed some of the brothers tasked with protecting the ship a zodiac boat. They started spraying the assault boat with pressurized water using a fire-hose. I was later told to go inside the ship.
Israeli soldiers were using live bullets against the activists. First the wounded then the martyrs were taken downstairs before my eyes. I could not withhold myself and began weeping. A few moments later I started walking through the martyrs to see if there was anybody I knew. My son was among the martyrs. I thanked Allah Almighty for letting my son’s blood merge with the blood of Turks, and prayed to Him to accept his martyrdom and forgive my sins at the Judgment Day for the sake of my son. However, when they took us to the upper deck of the ship a few hours later I saw my son there alive. I was quite moved and thanked Allah. Every act of the faithful is for the good.
They rounded up all passengers at the upper deck and detained them. The ship was towed to Ashdod Port. All the passengers were taken to tents set up on land for detainees. An Israeli army officer asked me if I wanted medical treatment, I rejected. He told me “You entered Israel illegally,” and I replied him immediately in a language he would understand, in Hebrew: “Israeli pirates attacked us in international waters and confiscated our ship.” The officer was enraged at my response and asked staring at me “Haven’t you died yet?” At that moment I remembered the fifty years ago, my two years in the prison of the occupier in 1956…
The occupier state of Israel agreed to release us owing to international pressure, but especially because of pressure form Turkey. They were considering deporting us to Jordan through Sheikh Hussein Bridge. I was one of the first to be released from the prison due to my old age. When I saw prison vehicles used to transfer prisoners I said “We will never get on these prison vehicles. We will only get on buses with air-conditioning.”
We saw a large crowd on the Jordan border that had gathered to meet us. But we could not rejoice since several of our brothers had been martyred. Their memory was still fresh. The first thing I said at that moment was: “We will come back soon… We will come back soon… We will come back soon…”
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