Posted by Ramsey Hammad
on January 5, 2001
My father, Salah Awad Hammad, once told me of a story that took place in our village of Barbara that I would like to share with everyone. He was only 8 when this took place but remembers the battle vividly.
My grandfather Awad Hammad and several members of the village used to regularly fight the British before the war in 1948. Many people in our town were familiar with basic combat. One of the village elders foresaw the upcoming conflict and had several families prepare for it by selling their livestock to purchase rifles and ammunition. I do not know his name, but I was told that he had served in the army of the Ottoman empire before their collapse after WWI. When the Jewish armies approached Barbara, they initially came in tanks. There was a total of 5 tanks that came in. The villagers were prepared for the attack and when the Jewish column approached, they destroyed the bridge in order to trap them. The village elder then had the Palestinians fire on the Jewish Tanks in order to keep them occupied while he had several people went underneath the tanks and broke the gasoline lines. They disabled and destroyed the first and last tanks by lighting a homemade bomb underneath each tank using unspent artillery shells. After blocking all means of escape they continued to blow up the remaining three tanks. This was a major victory for the village as they had routed the Jewish armored column.
The victory was short lived. The village elder was soon killed when he tried to prepare another bomb using the unspent artillery shells for another nearby village. With his death Barbara suffered a major loss in leadership. Barbara was eventually taken by another Jewish brigade. My family and most of the inhabitants of Barbara made their way to Gaza where they continue to live in misery in the refugee camp of Jabalya.
The village today is practically empty and uninhabited. The only modern building there today is a gas station. My father showed me the remnants of his elementary school and the land that we once owned.
We all pray that we will someday be able to call this land home again soon.
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