May 15 this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, the day on which tens of thousands of civilians were forced out of their homes during the war that led to the creation of the self-proclaimed State of Israel in 1948.
This year, the Nakba Day comes at a time where Israeli crimes against the Palestinians have reached a zenith. In the past couple of weeks, at least 33 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were killed and dozens more injured in Israeli strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip.
At the same time, scores of Palestinians have been fatally gunned down by extremist Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, in acts of state-sponsored terrorism perpetrated with back up from fashist ministers namely Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Simotrich. The latter once said that “there is no Palestinian history” and that “Israel should wipe out” Palestinian villages.
As a result of these acts of terrorism, the Israeli army and settlers have killed at least 150 Palestinians, dozens of them children, so far in 2023. Hundreds of Palestinians have also had their homes reduced into rubble.
At the same time, after 75 years of the Nakba, the Israeli colonial-apartheid regime continues to prevent the return of millions of Palestinian refugees and increase the number of those displaced. At the end of 2023, there are over 9 million Palestinian refugees worldwide, many of which are internally displaced persons on both sides of the Green Line.
The Palestinians continue witnessing the Nakba in myriad Israeli policies of forced displacement and colonialism, such as looting of natural resources, annexation, repression, denial of residency, segregation, fragmentation and isolation, home demolitions, and the imposition of discriminatory planning and permit systems. These policies, among others, are implemented as part of the Zionist-Israeli strategy aimed at seizing the largest area of land with the fewest number of Palestinians. The forced displacement in the Naqab, Sheikh Jarrah, the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron hills, in particular in Masafer Yatta, are glaring examples of the ongoing Nakba.
The Nakba is a continuous international crime that, for more than 75 years, has resulted in the protracted and ongoing forced displacement of the Palestinian people. The continuation of the Nakba reflects the extent of international complicity with the Israeli-Zionist colonial and apartheid regime in Palestine. Undoubtedly, ending the ongoing Nakba, establishing peace, and achieving justice and fairness for the Palestinian people, especially refugees and displaced persons, can only be accomplished through the implementation of UN Resolution 194 of 1948, which affirms the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their original homes, restoration of their properties, and compensation for any damage they have suffered.
On May 15, 1948, some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled into refugee camps that still exist in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Zionist forces had taken 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.
Millions of Palestinians, including those displaced with the establishment of Israel, now found themselves having to live under military occupation, as well as further Israeli expansionism in their lands.
The word “Nakba” means “catastrophe” in Arabic, and refers to the systematic ethnic cleansing of two-thirds of the Palestinian population at the time by Zionist paramilitaries between 1947-1949 and the near-total destruction of Palestinian society.
The United Nations and all members of the international community should live up to their responsibilities regarding the Palestinian cause and speak up for Palestinians inalienable rights, most notably their right to establish an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its eternal capital and the refugees’ right to return to their homeland.
For many Palestinians, the Nakba is the first chapter in a process of land grab and dispossession that began in 1948 and continues to date.