On May 15th, sixty-one years later, Palestinians throughout the world commemorate the Nakba, "the catastrophe". The narrative of the Jewish state began with an ethnic cleansing in 1948, which aimed to erase the history of an entire people and falsely create that of another. We hear how the Palestinian suffering caused during the Gaza war invokes memories of the first Nakba.
- A Palestinian artist paints a mural marking the anniversary of the Nakba in the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza strip.
The Palestinian Exile, also known as Al Nakba (Arabic for "The Catastrophe"), refers to the ethnic cleansing of native Palestinian peoples ... all » during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
From December 1947 until November 1948, Zionist forces (namely the Irgun, Lehi, Haganah terrorist gangs) expelled approximately 750, 000 indigenous Palestinians—almost 2/3 of the population—from their homes.
Hundreds of Palestinians were also murdered for refusing to leave their homes. The most notable massacre is the Deir Yassin Massacre, in which an estimated 120 Palestinian civilians were brutally murdered by an Irgun-Lehi force. Other massacres include the ones at Sahila (70-80 killed), Lod (250 killed), and Abu Shusha (70 killed). About 40 other massacres were carried out by Zionist forces in just the summer of 1948.
Not only did Zionist forces conduct massacres of Palestinian civilians, rape occured as well. According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, "In Acre four soldiers raped a girl and murdered her and her father. In Jaffa, soldiers of the Kiryati Brigade raped one girl and tried to rape several more. At Hunin, which is in the Galilee, two girls were raped and then murdered. There were one or two cases of rape at Tantura, south of Haifa. There was one case of rape at Qula, in the center of the country. At the village of Abu Shusha, near Kibbutz Gezer [in the Ramle area] there were four female prisoners, one of whom was raped a number of times. And there were other cases. Usually more than one soldier was involved. Usually there were one or two Palestinian girls. In a large proportion of the cases the event ended with murder. Because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg."
During Al Nakba, Palestinians were murdered, raped, and ethnically cleansed from their villages. According to Israeli historian, Ilan Pappé, "In a matter of seven months, 531 villages were destroyed and 11 urban neighborhoods emptied."
Palestinians were forced into were forced out of Palestine and into neighboring countries (i.e. Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan), where they lived in refugee camps. Many were also sent to camps in West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Most Palestinian towns were demolished and taken by the newly established Israeli government to make room for new Jewish immigrants. Old Palestinian infrastructures, as well as many ruins dating back from the Canaanites, Romans, Greeks, Crusaders, Arabs, and Ottoman Turks were completely destroyed. This signified the end of historical Palestine and the birth of modern-day Israel.
Al Nakba marked the beginning of the Palestinian refugee crisis. Al Nakba destroyed a thriving and diverse Palestinian society and scattered them into diaspora. According to the UNRWA, the number of registered Palestinian refugees today is approximately 4.5 million. These refugees are dispersed throughout the world, many of which are still living in poverty-stricken refugee camps. Today, the situation keeps worsening and thousands die from malnutrition, contaminated water, or scarce medical supply.
Israel has since refused to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, and has refused to pay them compensation as required by UN Resolution 194, which was passed on December 11, 1948.
Historically, the Israeli government, Israeli schools, and Israeli historians have denied that Al Nakba has occured. However, the "New Historians", a loosely-defined group of Israeli historians, have recently published information recognizing the Al Nakba tragedy and controversial views of matters concerning Israel, particularly events concerning its birth in 1948. Much of their material comes from recently declassified Israeli government papers. Leading scholars in this school include Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim, and Tom Segev. Many of their conclusions have been attacked by other scholars and Israeli historians, who continue to deny Al Nakba even occured.