NAKBA means ‘The Catastrophe’
On 15 May, people will remember the violent dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948. These events, which took place during the creation of the state of Israel, are known to Palestinians as ‘the catastrophe’ or, in Arabic, the ‘Nakba’. They are the events which have led directly to today’s situation, with Palestinians dispossessed, stateless and living under occupation in the West Bank, under occupation and siege in Gaza, or in exile around the world, including millions in refugee camps to this day. And the Nakba is not over for Palestinians, as the Israeli Government continues to steal their land in the West Bank through illegal settlement building and the construction of the separation wall.
And this is what displacement looks like today – one of many thousands of stories.
The refugee issue
Almost 800,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes in 1948-9 and during the June 1967 war a further 325,000 Palestinians became refugees. Under UN Resolution 194, the Palestinians have the right to return to their homes, but Israel has always refused to implement the Resolution. Today over 6 million Palestinians are refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom still live in overcrowded refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
Life under occupation
The past 40 years have seen the establishment of over 200 illegal Israeli settlements, housing nearly 500,000 settlers, within occupied Palestine. The separation wall in the West Bank, construction of which was started in 2002, cuts deep into Palestinian land and, along with the “settler only” roads, cuts off many communities from water supplies, hospitals and their agricultural land. Palestinian residents face severe travel restrictions and for many it is impossible to enter Jerusalem or to travel abroad. The treatment of Palestinians, both within Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory, is widely recognised as a system akin to the Apartheid regime of South Africa.
Palestinians are continually under attack from Israel’s occupying forces and are increasingly harassed by settlers, who attack farmers and steal their land. Collective punishments, such as prolonged curfews and house demolitions are frequently imposed.
Palestinians living in what is today the state of Israel, also face discrimination and are treated as second class citizens.
For more information on the historical background and the situation today, read this [pdf].
Google Earth can help bring the 1948 ‘Catastrophe’ up to date.
What does the ongoing ‘Land grab’ started in 1948 look like?
Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the occupied Palestinian territory, Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in Ramallah, West Bank. They have utilised the power of Google Maps to create interactive presentations that illustrate aspects of the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and present Al-Haq’s written and visual documentation of human rights violations.
Virtual Field Visits http://alhaq.mits.ps/index.php/virtual-field-visits
Understanding why Israel’s occupation is ‘settler-colonial’ in nature – much like others in history
Ronnie Kasrils is a South African author and activist. He was Minister of Intelligence Services from 2004 to 2008, member of the African National Congress from 1987 to 2007 and a founding member of Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Here, he talks to Make Apartheid History about the similarities between South Africa and Israel. https://makeapartheidhistory.org/portfolio/from-south-africa-to-israel/
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