76 years later, Nakba 'catastrophe' revisited upon Palestinians with heightened cruelty in Gaza

World
Wed, 15 May 2024 9:32 GMT
Nakba, or Catastrophe in Arabic, is marked by Palestinians on May 15 to remember expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes, lands in 1948 after founding of Israel.
76 years later, Nakba 'catastrophe' revisited upon Palestinians with heightened cruelty in Gaza

Νakba, or Catastrophe in Arabic, is marked by Palestinians on May 15 to remember expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes, lands in 1948 after founding of Israel.

- 'Either we return to Gaza or we return to Gaza, there is no other choice before us. We will not accept displacement from Palestine in any form,' uprooted resident of Gaza City tells Anadolu

- ‘Arab countries in 1948 assured our people in Jaffa and other places that their return would be in a matter of days. But 76 years have passed since the displacement, and we have not yet returned,' says 69-year-old woman in western Khan Younis city
GAZA CITY, Palestine

As this year marks the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, evocative scenes are emerging out of Gaza, where uprooted Palestinians hauling whatever belongings they can carry seek refuge from Israeli attacks on the enclave, ongoing now for an eighth month.

Details of the Nakba remained etched in the minds of Palestinian parents and grandparents, refusing to let go of memories of their people's 1948 displacement from their homes during the original Nakba, passing them down through the generations.

This time though, the scenes are harsher and more horrific, as Israel has waged a devastating war on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7 last year, leaving tens of thousands of casualties, mostly children and women.

As the war continues with the escalating intensity of the bombardment and ground battles, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have once again been forced to leave their homes behind and flee to areas that the Israeli army has claimed is safe. But even these are not spared the destructive strikes.

Since the beginning of the war, almost the entire population of the Gaza Strip, totaling about 2.4 million people, has been displaced due to Israel's military operations across the territory.

Scenes of displacement

In scenes that resemble the 1948 exodus, Palestinians have fled on foot, carrying their belongings and young children as they seek safety in other areas.

Some resorted to loading their belongings onto donkey carts, carrying blankets and food from their homes to temporary refuge areas as fuel for vehicles have remained scarce as a result of Israel's strict blockade on the enclave.

Many have been forced to set up tents of wood and bags along roadsides and in alleyways, while large numbers of displaced Palestinians are concentrated in areas lacking working infrastructure even as severe shortages of medicines, basic supplies, and drinking water only add to the pressure.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has recorded thousands of cases of skin infections and respiratory diseases, warning of the spread of infectious diseases among the displaced.

Primitive life

Naila Al-Baroudi, a Palestinian woman displaced from Gaza City in the north of the territory, said Israel "forced us to leave Gaza City to the south of the strip in Rafah at the beginning of the war.

"And here we are today, forced to flee again to Deir al-Balah city in the middle of the strip, where we live a primitive life in a small tent on the beach," she added.

Al-Baroudi told Anadolu that images of the Nakba and of forced displacement were being repeated after 76 years.

"Where do we go? Either we return to Gaza or we return to Gaza, there is no other choice before us. We will not accept displacement from Palestine in any form," she said.

Recounting her family's loss since the onslaught began, Al-Baroudi said: "Our three-story house was completely destroyed by Israel, and we considered it a sacrifice for the homeland, but this will not push us to migrate.

"We hope this nightmare ends, the war stops, and we return to our city."

As a symbol of her hope to return, she still holds onto the key to her house despite it being reduced to rubble by the Israeli army, keeping to a long-held tradition by many Palestinian families uprooted 76 years ago.

The Nakba, or Catastrophe in Arabic, is marked by the Palestinians on May 15 to remember the expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes and lands in 1948 after the founding of Israel.

The global Palestinian population reached 14.63 million as of the end of last year, marking a tenfold increase since the events of the Nakba in 1948, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

No safe haven

As for the elderly Um Zaki al-Baytar, who currently lives in a tent in the Al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis city just north of Rafah, she told Anadolu: "There is no safe haven for us to go to with my children and grandchildren after we have been displaced three times, and this is the last time."

"If the Israelis think of displacing us to Sinai by sending tanks and forcing us to do so, we will not accept it, and the scene of displacement outside Palestine will not be repeated," said the 69-year-old woman.

This, she fears, could lead to a second catastrophe that results in Palestinians not being allowed to return to Gaza.

"Arab countries in 1948 assured our people in Jaffa (in historic Palestine) and other places that their return would be in a matter of days. But 76 years have passed since the displacement, and we have not yet returned."

Despite escalating international warnings about the expansion of military operations in Rafah, the Israeli army called on Saturday morning for the immediate evacuation of residents of neighborhoods in the heart of the city, expanding operations that began early last week in its east.

Israel has waged a brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip in retaliation for an Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas attack, which killed 1,200 people.

More than 35,100 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, the vast majority of whom have been women and children, and over 79,000 others injured, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Israel is accused of “genocide” at the International Court of Justice, which has ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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