More than 750,000 Palestinians were uprooted from their land and thousands were killed at the creation of Israel in 1948. Left behind were the ruins of 530 villages and towns destroyed by Zionist militias and the Israeli army. Seventy-five years later, Al Jazeera recreates one of those villages, Bayt Nabala, and all that was lost, based on memories of survivors and their descendants, artificial intelligence-generated representations and documented history.
The last olive season
It was mid-October in 1947, and the first rains had arrived in the Palestinian village of Bayt Nabala like a silver haze. Weary from the scorching summer, the undulating lands seemed to stir with life as they drank from the skies. In their stone homes nestled on a rocky slope, the villagers knew that it was time to check on the groves of ancient, gnarled trees scattered across the hills. Another olive season was upon them.
The people of Bayt Nabala were proud of their olives, famous for their fruity flavour and immunity-boosting properties. They would use their camels and mules to drive oil presses made of heavy stones across the olives they had collected. The oil’s fragrance would tell them where the olives had fallen from: those that came from the top of the tree would fill the air with the lightest, sweetest scent.
But the olive season that year also brought tragedy to the community of more than 2,600 people. The hill on which Bayt Nabala stood was ensconced in valleys – al-Shami to the north, and Kereikah and Wadi Sarar to the south. The valleys flooded as they did every November, transforming into rivers.