Looking across his oranges grove, on top of one of Gaza’s highest hills, Abu Othman lays claim to the best view of Gaza, both its past and its present.
Smiling, he points his stick east, across the barrier wall towards Israel, and traces where as a boy, before the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, he rode his horse to visit the Arab villages of Burayr and Huj, then on the hills nearby then traces the line along which a caravan of camels used to travel, transporting supplies from Cairo, passing near the Gaza district villages and on to Jaffa.
Here was the old railway line connecting Cairo to Aleppo, the same line that brought Winston Churchill, then colonial secretary, to Gaza in 1921, when Churchill told the Palestinians, living by then under British rule, that they must accept a Jewish homeland in Palestine, as set out by the Balfour Declaration of 1917. In his declaration, Sir Arthur Balfour, the foreign secretary, had also promised to protect rights of Palestinians who lived here.
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