Nakba Day: What happened in Palestine in 1948?

Nakba Day: What happened in Palestine in 1948?
Every year on May 15, Palestinians around the world mark the Nakba, or catastrophe, referring to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Having secured the support of the British government for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, on May 14, 1948, as soon as the British Mandate expired, Zionist forces declared the establishment of the State of Israel, triggering the first Arab-Israeli war.

Zionist military forces expelled at least 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands and captured 78 percent of historic Palestine. The remaining 22 percent was divided into what are now the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. The fighting continued until January 1949 when an armistice agreement between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria was forged.

The 1949 Armistice Line is also known as the Green Line and is the generally recognised boundary between Israel and the West Bank. The Green Line is also referred to as the (pre-) 1967 borders, before Israel occupied the rest of Palestine during the June 1967 war. Israel’s military occupation of Palestine remains at the core of this decades-long conflict that continues to shape every part of Palestinians’ lives.

Between 1947 and 1949, Zionist military forces attacked major Palestinian cities and destroyed some 530 villages. About 15,000 Palestinians were killed in a series of mass atrocities, including dozens of massacres. On April 9, 1948, Zionist forces committed one of the most infamous massacres of the war in the village of Deir Yassin on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. More than 110 men, women and children were killed by members of the pre-Israeli-state Irgun and Stern Gang Zionist militias.

There are some six million registered Palestinian refugees living in at least 58 camps located throughout Palestine and neighbouring countries. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides assistance and operates hundreds of schools and health facilities for at least 2.3 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, 1.5 million refugees in Gaza, 870,000 refugees in the occupied West Bank, 570,00 refugees in Syria and 480,000 refugees in Lebanon.

The largest camps in each are Baqa’a in Jordan, Jabalia in Gaza, Jenin in the occupied West Bank, Yarmouk in Syria, Eand in El Hilweh in Lebanon.

More than 70 percent of Gaza’s residents are refugees. About 1.5 million refugees live in eight refugee camps around the Gaza Strip. According to international law, refugees have the right to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced. Many Palestinians still have hope of returning to Palestine.

The plight of Palestinian refugees is the longest unresolved refugee problem in the world. Read...  

James Koroma