Nakba Day (Arabic: Yawm an-Nakbah, meaning “day of the catastrophe”) is an annual day of commemoration for the Palestinian people of the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948. It is generally commemorated on May 15, the day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israeli independence day (Yom Ha’atzmaut).
During the 1948 Palestine War, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled, and hundreds of Palestinian villages were depopulated and destroyed. The vast majority of Palestinian refugees, both those outside the 1949 armistice lines at the war’s conclusion and those internally displaced, were barred by the newly declared state of Israel from returning to their homes or reclaiming their property.
These refugees and their descendants number several million people today, divided between Jordan (2 million), Lebanon (427,057), Syria (477,700), the West Bank (788,108) and the Gaza Strip (1.1 million), with at least another quarter of a million internally displaced Palestinians in Israel. The displacement, dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people is known to them as al-Nakba, meaning “the catastrophe,” or “the disaster.”
Prior to its adoption by the Palestinian nationalist movement, the “Year of the Catastrophe” among Arabs referred to 1920, when European colonial powers partitioned the Ottoman Empire into a series of separate states along lines of their own choosing. The term was first used to reference the events of 1948 in the summer of that same year by the Syrian writer Constantine Zureiq in his work “Ma’na al-Nakba” (“The Meaning of the Nakba”; published in English in 1956).
Source : Santunan Jadid, June, 2011
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