Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation might go back and forth about their living conditions; they could protest arbitrary measures at times or submit to force in others, they would voice abuses they suffer from or bear the violence, they would go around in discussions on their political leaders and their cause, but one thing will always unite them.
That is their unquestionable right: their land and their strong determination and hope to return to it. Their displacement is the Nakba (catastrophe) and their “nakba” was caused by the 1948 war as Israel unlawfully seized the land.
Although it was not until 1998 that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat officially declared the commemoration day, it has been a history carried by and passed onto one generation after the other.
The more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes as their villages were destroyed have become refugees with millions of descendants scattered around Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, among other countries.
But the mass migration of Jews to Palestine and mass exodus of the Palestinians which accompanied it had been going on long before the 1948 war; a process that was initiated by the division of the defeated Ottoman Empire into British and French colonies and the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917, which gave Jews the Palestinian land.
The right of return is not a disputed issue; it has been recognised by the UN, but like other adopted resolutions, it is violated by the Israelis.
Today, the Israeli military is telling Palestinians that they are being manipulated by Hamas into protesting to demand their rights. The Israeli Air Force reportedly dropped pamphlets in Gaza warning people against approaching the border fence and telling them they deserve “a better government and future.”
Since March, a series of protests have taken place in the Gaza Strip and across Palestine, named the Great March of Return. International rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive and unjustified use of force against peaceful protesters, killing hundreds and injuring thousands.
Sunday’s protests come amid the inauguration of the US embassy in Jerusalem, which comes according to one of the most controversial decisions related to the conflict, declared by US President Donald Trump in December.
A brief timeline of events before and after Nakba Day
29 November 1947 – UN General Assembly agrees to Partition Plan which establishes the creation of Arab and Jewish states no later than 1 October 1948
2 December 1947 – Riots break out in Jerusalem and violent clashes occur between Arabs and Jews
Protests also erupt in Egypt, at the time still subject to British involvement in governance under King Farouk
9 April 1948 – Members of Zionist militias attack Deir Yassin village, murdering over 100 Palestinians
14 May 1948 – Post-first world war British mandate for Palestine ends and troops withdraw
David Ben-Gurion proclaims the State of Israel
15 May 1948 – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq engage in a war against the Jewish state on Palestinian soil
29 May 1948 – The UN Security Council calls for a truce, which goes into effect on 11 June but fighting soon erupts again
15 July 1948 – A second truce is called by the UN Security Council, but the fighting goes on until March 1949
17 September 1948 – UN peace mediator Count Folke Bernadotte is assassinated in Jerusalem by the Zionist militant group Lehi
11 December 1948 – UNGA Resolution 194 on the right of return of Palestinian refugees is adopted
February to July 1949 – An armistice is signed between Israel and Arabs under the auspices of the UN