Conflicts & War

Palestinians marks Nakba day with no end in sight in conflict with Israel

Jerusalem, May 15 (EFE).- Palestinians commemorated Monday the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (Arabic for ‘catastrophe’), the events that marked the exodus of more than 700,000 people following the creation of the State of Israel, a key date in their national identity that this year coincides with the latest upsurge in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

After days of intense exchange of fire between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip – an escalation that resulted in 35 deaths over the past week – the memory of the massive Palestinian migration from 75 years ago was displayed on Monday in demonstrations and events in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, with attendees demanding the right of return of refugees and their descendants.


Even today, the Nakba is seen as the most tragic historical event in Palestinians’ collective imagination, as they remember the loss of their homeland, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled or fled their homes without ever being able to return.

The events took place within the framework of the Arab-Israeli War (1948-49) resulting from the founding of the state of Israel. The Palestinians also accuse Zionist organizations and militias of having perpetrated a process of ethnic cleansing that uprooted them from their land and sought to drive out most of the Arab population so that a Jewish demographic majority could prevail.

Since then, the right of return has been a central element of the Palestinian cause, and one of the major points of friction with Israel, which rejects this claim even though it has been formally recognized by the UN.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), gave a speech on Monday at a special event at the United Nations headquarters in New York, in which he accused the government of Benjamin Netanyahu of wanting to perpetrate another ‘Nakba’ on the Palestinian people.

“There are ministers publicly calling to commit another Nakba against the Palestinians (…) without the Israeli government condemning it or acting against them and there are those who clearly and explicitly call to kill Palestinians,” Abbas said.

He specifically mentioned the far-right ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, whom he accused of calling for “the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and the demolition of their houses and their displacement, which is just what the Israeli government is doing.”

Abbas urged the international community to “assume its responsibility, put an end to the aggression, give international protection to the Palestinians.”

“We are daily victims of violence” at the hands of the “army of the occupying state,” the Palestinian leader said.


Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Monday that the Nakba is “a lie” against which Israel will “fight with all its might.”

Israeli authorities contacted some 100 countries to urge them not to attend the event, and 32 states – including the US, Canada, Ukraine, the UK and India – confirmed that they would not take part. Among them are also 10 member countries of the European Union, Cohen said.

“We will not allow the Palestinians to continue to spread lies and distort history,” the foreign minister added.

Every year, the Nakba is commemorated on May 15, one day after the date on which the first Israeli head of government, David Ben Gurion, proclaimed the formation of Israel, a day of national celebration that Israelis mark according to the Jewish calendar as Independence Day, and which this year was celebrated on April 26.

Yet, as in many other matters – and especially in the interpretation of history – the Palestinian narrative surrounding the events of 1948 is in complete contrast to the Israeli version, another sign of how one of the longest conflicts in recent history remains deadlocked, cyclical and never ending.

“The Nakba was the hardest historical period for our people, and a direct cause of what they suffer to this day,” Palestinian Prime Minister Muhamad Shtayeh said Monday at an official event, adding that “the constant aggression (by Israel) against the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem is a continuation of this.”

Other such difficult periods include that of the Oslo Peace Accords (1993-1995), agreements failed to yield a final resolution between the parties. Peace negotiations were also suspended in 2014 and have not been resumed since.

At the same time, the current Israeli government, the most right-wing in the country’s history, is facing the worst escalation of violence seen in the region since the Second Intifada (2000-2005).

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