Nakba: 75 years later
This year commemorates the 75th anniversary of the mass expulsion of Palestinians known as “the Nakba” or “the Catastrophe.” In 1948, Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes, resulting in the destruction of numerous villages and cities. The Nakba saw the displacement of approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were either forced to leave or fled in fear. Reports of torture and mass killings by Israeli forces against Palestinians during that time are widely documented, adding to the painful memories associated with the Nakba. This event led to nearly 800,000 Palestinians becoming refugees, and almost 500 towns and villages in historic Palestine were ethnically cleansed.
The debate surrounding the Nakba narrative
By the time Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948, between 250,000 and 350,000 Palestinians had been forced off their ancestral lands.
The day after that declaration – May 15 – came to be known as Nakba Day.
As Palestinians fled to neighbouring lands, the armies of five Arab countries – which also wished to prevent a Jewish state from forming – were deployed to try to stem the tide of refugees. Fighting between Israeli and Arab armies continued throughout that summer and fall, with the heavily armed Israeli military conquering lands that the U.N. had previously designated as part of the Arab state.
The Palestinians struggle to gain recognition
President Mahmoud Abbas emphasized the importance of commemorating the Nakba as a top priority to preserve the Palestinian narrative and counter attempts to distort history and facts. Even today, Palestinian communities in areas such as East Jerusalem, the southern Hebron Hills, and the Naqab desert continue to suffer from the consequences of Israel’s pursuit of demographic supremacy. Additionally, millions of Palestinian refugees remain stateless and deprived of basic political and human rights. President Abbas called on all Palestinians to unite in facing the challenges posed by the occupation and to focus on liberating their land and sanctities. The Nakba is viewed as an enduring trauma for Palestinians as they continue to experience displacement from their homes in the present day. It is a comprehensive Palestinian narrative that encompasses the past, present, and future.