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Nakba Day

This day in Palestine...

Al-Nakba Day, 15 May 1948

The 1948 Palestinian exodus, also known as the Nakba (Arabic: النكبة‎, al-Nakbah, literally "disaster", "catastrophe", or "cataclysm"), occurred when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Palestine war. 

Between 400 and 600 Palestinian villages were sacked during the war, while urban Palestine was almost entirely extinguished. The term "nakba" also refers to the period of war itself and events affecting Palestinians from December 1947 to January 1949.

The precise number of refugees, many of whom settled in refugee camps in neighboring states, is a matter of dispute but around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what became Israel (50 percent of the Arab total of Mandatory Palestine) left or were expelled from their homes. Approximately 250,000-300,000 Palestinians had fled or been expelled prior to the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May 1948; a fact which was named as a casus belli for the entry of the Arab League into the country, sparking the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The causes are also a subject of fundamental disagreement between historians. Factors involved in the exodus include Jewish military advances, destruction of Arab villages, psychological warfare, and fears of another massacre by Zionist militias after the Deir Yassin massacre, which caused many to leave out of panic; direct expulsion orders by Israeli authorities; the voluntary self-removal of the wealthier classes; collapse in Palestinian leadership and Arab evacuation order.

Later, a series of laws passed by the first Israeli government prevented them from returning to their homes or claiming their property. They and many of their descendants remain refugees. The expulsion of the Palestinians has since been described by some historians as ethnic cleansing, while others dispute this charge.

The status of the refugees, and in particular whether Israel will grant them their claimed right to return to their homes or be compensated, are key issues in the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The events of 1948 are commemorated by Palestinians both in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere on 15 May, a date now known as Nakba Day.

Further information available here on Wikipedia >>

Photos from the archives of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

Further resources


Earlier Event: May 14
Book Launch with Ramzy Baroud
Later Event: May 15
Nakba Day Vigil