Palestinians observe Nakba anniversary in shadow of Israel’s war in Gaza

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Palestinians hold a Palestinian flag as they take part in a protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, the "catastrophe" of their mass dispossession in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation, in Ramallah

Palestinians in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank hold a Palestinian flag as they take part in a protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, the "catastrophe" of their mass dispossession in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation. [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Published On 15 May 2024

Palestinians have commemorated the 1948 Nakba, or “catastrophe”, when hundreds of thousands of people were expelled from their homes during the establishment of the State of Israel as Israeli forces continue their assault on Gaza.

The Nakba has been one of the defining experiences for Palestinians, helping to shape their national identity.

This year’s commemoration has been dominated by the plight of more than two million Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are living in temporary shelters or tents after being displaced from their homes by Israel’s war on the territory.

The more than seven-month Israeli military assault, which has left much of the Gaza Strip a wasteland of rubble and wrecked buildings, has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians and displaced most of the population, according to Gaza authorities, creating fears of a second Nakba in which they would be forced from Gaza altogether.

The May 15 Nakba Day commemoration marks the start of the 1948 war when neighbouring Arab states attacked Israel a day after the new state declared its independence following the withdrawal of British forces from Palestine.

The fighting lasted for months and cost thousands of lives. More than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in what is now Israel, most into makeshift camps like the ones now occupied by the displaced of Gaza.

Over the years, dozens of refugee camps have grown into densely built-up townships spread throughout the Middle East, where the 1948 refugees and their descendants make up almost half the total Palestinian population.

More than 5.9 million Palestinians are currently registered as refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, according to United Nations figures, in addition to a diaspora across the world.

Events observing the Nakba anniversary were held around the world with thousands marching and carrying Palestinian flags.

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

A protester in Ramallah carries a bundle symbolising the thousands of children killed in Israel's war on Gaza during Nakba commemorations. [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Palestinian protesters hold symbolic keys during a rally in the northern West Bank city of Nablus

Palestinian protesters at a rally in the northern West Bank city of Nablus hold keys representing the keys to the homes their families were forced out of in what is today Israel. [Zain Jaafar/AFP]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

An American protests her own government and Israel's staunchest ally during protests in Ramallah. [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

Palestinians rally on Nakba Day in Nablus to mark the displacement and dispossession of more than 700,000 Palestinians. [Alaa Badarneh/EPA]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

During the Nakba, Israel captured 78 percent of historic Palestine, and the people displaced are still seeking a right to return. [Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

Students in Barcelona, Spain, wave Palestinian flags as they march to show solidarity with Palestinians during the war in Gaza and to commemorate the Nakba. [Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

People in Dublin, Ireland, protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza and against the Nakba on its 76th anniversary. [Mostafa Darwish/Anadolu]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

Filipino activists hold a protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Quezon City, Philippines. [Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

Thousands of people turned out in Sydney, Australia, for a pro-Palestinian protest. A march was also held in Melbourne. [David Gray/AFP]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

Protesters in Seoul turned out in the rain to remember the Nakba and support Palestinians. [Anthony Wallace/AFP]

protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba

Police officers stand guard at a pro-Palestinians protest outside a UN building in Amman, Jordan, a city that has seen regular demonstrations since the Gaza war began in October. [Alaa Al Sukhni/Reuters]

University students in Sarajevo protest against Israel's attacks on Gaza

Students at the International University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina protest against Israeli attacks on Gaza and commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba. [Samır Jordamovıc/Anadolu]

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