Al Jazeera World

The Deportees

The stories of Palestinians deported from Israel between 1977 and 2012, their lives in exile and their longing for home.

Since Israel’s founding in 1948, approximately 750,000 Palestinians have been forced to leave their homes. After the initial exodus in 1948, Palestinians have been displaced through military occupation and Israel seizing their land. But more recently, they have been displaced another way: through deportation. Palestinians have been exiled from Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

Israel deports individually but also en masse. The largest deportation happened in 1992 when 425 Palestinians, mostly from Hamas, were rounded up and sent to South Lebanon in response to the kidnapping of an Israeli border guard. The deportees were stuck in Marj al-Zuhur for one year – Lebanon refused to take them, and Israel would not allow them to return – until Israel, conceding to international pressure, allowed them to return home.

A Turkish friend asked why I named my daughter Tabarak Quds. I said it makes me feel like I'm in Al-Quds, Jerusalem.

by -Tayseer Sabih, deported in 2011, lives in Turkey

Almost a decade later, there was another mass deportation, in 2002, during the second Intifada. This time, Israel struck a deal with the 200 Palestinians holed up inside the Church of Nativity for 38 days. They could leave unharmed, but 39 of them had to accept deportation to Europe and the Gaza Strip.

In 2011, 180 prisoners were deported as part of an agreement with Hamas to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

In The Deportees, we meet Palestinians who were largely exiled to Jordan, Turkey and Greece, and visit the families and neighbourhoods they had to leave behind.

We hear the stories of their arrests and exiles and the different ways deportation has been used to, for instance, end prisoners’ hunger strikes or as a tool to quell opposition.

Filmmaker Bahea Namoor traces the deportees’ lives of uncertainty, danger and being separated from their loved ones. She talks to a spokesman from the Israeli foreign ministry and with the former UN rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories to bring together a film both personal and probing about the deported, Israel’s actions, and those of the international community.