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

In News, World
May 15, 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.

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