In Photos - Never Again! Palestinians mark 1948 'Nakba' anniversary as Gaza endures Israeli genocide

Yasmine Osama Farag , Wednesday 15 May 2024

Palestinians on Wednesday marked the 76th anniversary of the Nakba – the Palestinian Catastrophe – when more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland in historic Palestine by Zionist militias that declared the state of Israel on 15 May 1948.

Palestinian protesters take to the streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 15, 2024 to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba or Catastrophe of the creation of Israel, which sparked the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948. AFP


Since 7 October 2023, Israel has killed more than 35,000 and wounded nearly 80,000 (five percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million population) - most of whom were children and women.

Thousands of dead bodies remain buried under the rubble. 

More than 80 percent of the civilian population in the strip has been displaced - many several times.

Israeli airstrikes destroyed most residential buildings, schools, and hospitals in the strip.

UN agencies say 550,000 people, nearly a quarter of Gaza's population, have been newly displaced in just the last week as Israeli forces pushed into the southern city of Rafah.



Nakba revisited?

The sight of desperate families carrying their scant belongings through the ruins of war-scarred cities in Gaza evoked memories of the bloody events of 1948 when Zionist militias expelled 80 percent of Palestinians from their historic homeland.

"Your Independence Day is our catastrophe," protesters chanted in Israel on the eve of Nakba Day at a rally joined by many Arab-Israelis, according to AFP.

Arab-Israelis are descendants of Palestinians who were not expelled by Zionist militias in the 1948 war and now live as a second-class minority in Israel.

“We lived through the Nakba not just once, but several times," Umm Shadi Sheikh Khalil, who was displaced from Gaza City and now lives in a tent in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, told AP.

During the Nakba of 1948 that led to the establishment of today’s Israel, Zionist forces took more than 78 percent of historic Palestine, ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 villages and cities, and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities, including more than 70 massacres.

The refugees and their descendants number some 6 million and live in built-up refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

In Gaza,  refugees are the majority of the population, with most families having been expelled from what is now central and southern Israel.

Painful memories

The refugee camps in Gaza have seen some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

In other camps across the region, the fighting has revived painful memories from earlier Israel aggressions, according to a special AP report marking the Nakba.

At a centre for elderly residents of the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Amina Taher recalled the day her family’s house in the village of Deir al-Qassi, in today's northern Israel, collapsed over their heads after being shelled by Israeli forces in 1948.

Taher, then 3 years old, was pulled from the rubble unharmed, but her 1-year-old sister was killed. Now she has seen the same scenes play out in news coverage of Gaza.

“When I would watch the news, I had a mental breakdown because then I remembered when the house fell on me,” she told AP. “What harm did these children do to get killed like this?”

Daoud Nasser, now living in Shatila, was 6 years old when his family fled Balad al-Sheikh village near Haifa.

His father tried to return to their village in the early years after 1948, when the border was relatively porous, but found a Jewish family living in their house, he said.

Nasser said he would attempt the same journey if the border were not so heavily guarded. “I would run. I’m ready to walk from here to there and sleep under the olive trees on my land," he said.

In a statement marking Nakba, Hamas said: "The ongoing suffering of millions of refugees inside Palestine and in the diaspora is directly attributed to the Zionist occupation."

The group added that "their legitimate right to return to their homes from which they were displaced cannot be compromised or relinquished."

Despite months of unprecedented Israeli killing and destruction, most of the Palestinians in Gaza have refused to leave the strip.

The vast majority has opted to put up with death and loss of shelter inside Gaza rather than leave, albeit momentarily, knowing that Israel would certainly prevent them from returning as it did in 1948.

File photo- Palestinians arrive in Rafah, southern Gaza, having fled an Israeli ground and air offensive in the nearby city of Khan Younis, January 2024. AP

Palestinian protesters hold symbolic keys during a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 15, 2024, to mark the 76th anniversary of the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe" of the creation of Israel, which sparked the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948. AFP

Displaced Palestinian children sit next to their family's packed belongings on a donkey-cart as score of people left unsafe areas in Rafah on May 15, 2024. AFP

Displaced Palestinians pack their belongings and tents before leaving Rafah, where they were earlier displaced by the Israeli occupation army, May 15, 2024. AFP

Activists carry a large Palestinian flag during a mass ceremony to commemorate the Nakba Day, in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. AP

Palestinians carry bloodstained mock children bodies during a mass ceremony to commemorate the Nakba Day, in Ramallah, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. AP

Palestinians carry mock large keys during a mass ceremony to commemorate the Nakba Day, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, May 15, 2024. AP

Students wave Palestinian flags as they march to show solidarity with Palestinians amid the ongoing war in Gaza and to commemorate Nakba Day, Arabic for catastrophe, in Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, May 15, 2024. AP

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