May 15, 1948: Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day, marking the destruction of Palestine when Israel was created
“To understand the nakba is to first confront its sheer scale and totality. Before the nakba, there was a large, deeply rooted, and essentially ancient Arab society in most of what, within a few months, became the Jewish state of Israel. In effect, one day it was there, as it had been for living memory, and the next day it was gone. An entire society, with the exception of relatively small groups in a few places, simply vanished.” - Hussein Ibish
On this day, Palestinians commemorate the Nakba – or “catastrophe” – referring to the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestinian society that took place during the creation of Israel, between 1947-1950. For Palestinians, the Nakba doesn’t represent one historical event, but it represents an ongoing process that they endure on daily basis.
Between 700,000 to one million Palestinians became refugees as a result of ethnic cleansing between 1947-49. As of 2009, the number of displaced Palestinians was reported at over 7,100,000. Refugees, or victims of displacement, come from the 400 different Palestinian cities and villages that were destroyed by Zionist militias between 1947-1950. Following the creation of Israel, the Israeli state enacted laws that expropriated the land and property belonging to refugees, and barred them from ever returning from their homes. Palestinians who managed to remain in Palestine today face severe hardships, living either under brutal military occupation or as second-class citizens within Israel.
In 1998, Yasser Arafat designated May 15 as a day to commemorate the Nakba. Each year, Palestinians all over the world commemorate this day to reflect on their dispossession of the land, their loss of family members, and the exile that many were forced into during the diaspora, and still experience to this day.