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Tuesday, Sep 23rd

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You are here News Human Rights The suffering of Sderot: how its true inhabitants were wiped from Israel's maps and memories

The suffering of Sderot: how its true inhabitants were wiped from Israel's maps and memories

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Huj villageThe people of Huj - now almost forgotten - had helped the Jewish Haganah army escape the British. The thanks they got was to be sent into Gaza as refugees.

I think I found the village of Huj this weekend – but the road sign said “Sederot”. The world knows it as Sderot, the Israeli city where the Hamas rockets fall. Even Barack Obama has been there. But Huj has a lot to do with this little story.

By my map calculations, it lies, long destroyed, across the fields from a scruffy recreation centre near the entrance to Sderot, a series of shabby villas on a little ring road where Israeli children were playing on the Shabat afternoon.

The inhabitants of Huj were all Palestinian Arab Muslims and, irony of ironies, they got on well with the Jews of Palestine. We have to thank the Israeli historian Benny Morris for uncovering their story, which is as grim as it is filled with sorrow.

Huj’s day of destiny came on 31 May 1948, when the Israeli Negev Brigade’s 7th Battalion, facing an advancing Egyptian army, arrived in the village. In Morris’s words, “the brigade expelled the villagers of Huj … to the Gaza Strip”.

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