The ‘Nakba’ (the day of catastrophe) is being commemorated today across the globe by Palestinians. The day follows the the illegal state of Israel’s “Independence Day”, in which Israel was officially declared a state following the forced expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, and the destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and towns. The day of commemoration was declared by Yasser Arafat in 1998.
Rallies are being held across Palestine, including Israel, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
However, Israel has been making the public commemoration of Nakba difficult, introducing a “Nakba Law” that authorises Israel’s finance minister to revoke funding from institutions that reject Israel’s identity as a “Jewish state” or mark Israel Independence Day as a day of mourning.
This year’s Nakba Day also falls on the 29th day of a hunger strike led by Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, where a total of 1,500 Palestinians detained by Israel are striking in demand of better treatment.
“Our nation marking 69 years of the Nakba, our national catastrophe, is symbolised in our exile and the systematic denial of our rights,” said Saeb Erekat, who participated in the failed Oslo Accords to bring about a two-state solution to the Israeli occupation.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Israel must acknowledge that its establishment in 1948 was a “catastrophe” for the Palestinians. He also urged Tel Aviv to open all its 1948 archives and show “the truth of what was done to our people, including its ethnic cleansing policies and the policy of shooting to kill Palestinians that attempted to return home.”
Today, more than 7 million Palestinian refugees are living in exile, while 1.8 million Palestinians live in besieged Gaza. Since 1967, more than half a million Israelis live in 230 settlements that are internationally condemned as illegal.
You can read more about Al-Nakba as well as witness a gallery of heartbreaking pictures of the Palestinian exile here.