Sunday marked the 74th Nakba Day and people in Palestine commemorated this historical day in a big rally in Ramallah.
Nakba Day is surely one of the key events in the modern history of the whole Middle East region. Also known as “The Catastrophe”, Nakba Day began in late 1947 and 1948, the time when the new Israeli state came into being.
The term specifically refers to the day when the Jewish state of Israel was created at the cost of forcing more than 800,000 Palestinian men, women, and children to leave their homeland for good.
Everything began in 1799. During the French invasion of the Arab world back then, Napoleon issued a proclamation offering Palestine as a homeland to Jews under France’s supervision. This would also give France a way to strengthen its presence in the region.
Napoleon’s vision of a Jewish state in the Middle East did not materialize at the time, but it didn’t die either. It was after the end of the Second World War when the UN and world powers decided to realign the borders of the Middle East. And just like that, they decided to do the Jews, who suffered a great deal during the war, a favor. They gave them lands not of their own and far from Europe in the Middle East.
Therefore, 15 May of 1948 was indeed the day of putting into practice the partition plan of Palestine and giving it to the Jews.
The Nakba was not an unintended result of war. It was in fact a deliberate and systematic act necessary for the creation of a Jewish majority state in historic Palestine which was overwhelmingly Arab before 1948. Almost immediately after the partition plan was passed by the UN, violence broke out and large-scale expulsions of Palestinians began.
What did the Nakba Day left behind?
In the weeks and months that followed, more than 15,000 Palestinians were killed, well over 800,000 were displaced, and nearly 418 towns and villages were destroyed and ethnically cleansed by Jewish paramilitary groups. Jews were also killed by Palestinian groups, of course, not in the same numbers.
Long before the armies of neighboring Arab states became involved to defend Palestine, Zionist forces finished expanding, and the new state of Israel comprised 78% of the Palestinian lands. The remaining territory, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, fell under the control of Jordan and Egypt, respectively. In the 1967 War, however, Israel occupied the remaining 22% and began colonizing it.
Many of the Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes never returned to historic Palestine, much of which is now the modern-day state of Israel. More than 70 years later, millions of their descendants live in dozens of refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank, and surrounding countries. And Palestinians have been mourning the loss of their homeland ever since.
Linguistically speaking, the word “Nakba” means “catastrophe” in Arabic, referring to the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population between 1947-1949. Nakba Day is now a key commemorative date in the Palestinian calendar. It is traditionally marked on 15 May, the date after Israeli independence was proclaimed in 1948.
Some Palestinians also observe it on the day of Israeli independence celebrations, which itself changes from year to year due to variations in the Hebrew calendar. And now, after 74 years, the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine is still happening, but that’s not the end of the story, because Palestinian resistance is also going on.