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Haleigh O’Connell

October 4, 2008
Period 3

Sinai Peninsula
Hello. My name is Hanife. I am an Israeli Arab. My family and I live in Nazareth,
Israel. At one time, most of my family lived on the Sinai Peninsula. My siblings and I
were born here in Nazareth after my family was forced to leave their home on the Sinai
Peninsula.
My mother’s parents, my grandparents, have explained much of the history to me.
Most of the history is about when the Sinai Peninsula was captured by Israel.
Way back in 1922, my grandparents were both children, but they remember that
Britain had declared Egypt (including the Sinai Peninsula) an independent monarchy.
Many battles ensued between Egypt and Israel. My grandparents remember in October
of 1956 that Israel had invaded the peninsula because Egypt had interferred with Israel’s
shipping routes by closing the Strait of Tiran and nationalizing the Suez Canal. This
made Israel mad so they got Britain and France to help them and they gained control of
the Sinai Peninsula. This is around the time that my family moved to the Sinai Peninsula.
There were special incentives to encourage pioneers to settle the land. The land was dry
and not good for growing crops. But the area was beautiful, surrounded by beautiful blue
seas with plenty of good fishing. My family started a small date crop.
In 1967, Egypt once again halted trade by blocking the Strait of Tiran. Egypt’s
President Nasser also forced the United Nations Emergency Force to leave the peninsula.
There was a war called the Six Days War in which Israel captured the entire territory
from Egypt. One month after the Six Days War, there was a special peace meeting called
the Khartoum Arab Summit. The outcome of the summit was three no’s: no peace with
Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel. Egypt continued to be
angry with Israel’s occupation of the peninsula.
In 1973, Egypt gained the support of Syria and attacked the peninsula on Yom
Kippur, the holiest day for Jews. The war was called the Yom Kippur War. Although, it
was Egypt and Syria verse Israel and it was the holiest day, Israel still controlled the Sinai
Peninsula.
My grandmother gets very teary eyed when she talks about what happened in 1979.
There was a special peace conference at Camp David. The result was the Egyptian-
Israeli Peace Treaty. The treaty called for Israel to withdraw completely from Sinai. The
withdrawal was to take place in two stages and to be final in 1982. Our own armies of
Israeli soldiers were going to force my family out of the home that they loved. The place
that they had planted date crops would no longer be there’s. The sea that my grandfather
and father fished in would no longer be right down the road. My parents remember the
soldiers coming to force everyone out. People were on the rooftops so they couldn’t be
taken from their beloved homes. My grandparents fled their home and moved to a vacant
home, leaving all of their belongings behind. Their new home had no electricity and no
running water. The house was filled with someone else’s belongings. It was really not a
home after all. Soon they gave in and left there once beautiful village. They travelled by
car with a black flag draped over it. It was a sad day and is still very painful for my
parents and grandparents to talk about. The tourist town of Taba did continue to stay
occupied by Israelis until 1989.
The peninsula is currently divided into two zones: North Sinai where the capital is
Al Arish, and South Sinai where the capital is At Tur.
In the late 1990’s my parents took me to see the house that they had owned before
they were forced to leave. It was a beautiful village and I could see why my family grew
to love it so much. We visited again in 2001 and had planned a trip in 2005. However, it
was a very dangerous time in 2005. Terrorists were setting bombs and suicide bombs and
they were aimed at tourists and Israelis that were vacationing. It was strongly
encouraged that vacationers, and especially Israelis, stay out of the Sinai Peninsula. We
have not been back since and Israel continues to caution its citizens to stay out of the
Sinai Peninsula during this time of unrest. My hope is that one day this beautiful land of
the Sinai Peninsula can be enjoyed by everyone.