Nakba in literary terms means a natural catastrophe such as an earthquake, volcano, or hurricane. However, the Nakba in Palestine describes the process of ethnic cleansing in which an unarmed nation has been destroyed and its population displaced to be replaced systematically by another migrant nation. Unlike a natural catastrophe, the Palestinian Nakba was the result of a man-made military plan with the consent of other states, leading to a major tragedy for the Palestinian people. The subsequent occupation of the remaining land of Palestine in 1967 resulted in additional tragedy.

The Nakba of 1948 happened when approximately 750,000 Palestinian men, women, and children were ruthlessly attacked, massacred and driven out from their homes into refugee camps by Zionist terror groups, and never allowed to return in violation of international law. This massive humanitarian disaster is known as ‘The Catastrophe,’ al-Nakba in Arabic and marked on May 15.

Zionist leaders spoke openly of the need to use military attacks and tactics to expel as many Palestinians as possible before other Arab countries could come to their defence. The Haganah militia's Plan Dalet was the blueprint for this ethnic cleansing. Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, said: "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."

Zionist forces committed 33 massacres and destroyed 531 Palestinian towns and villages. The 700,000+ refugees from these lands became an economic and social burden on neighbouring countries.

Over the past 7 decades since Israel’s founding on May 14, 1948, this profound injustice has continued. Palestinian refugees are the largest remaining refugee population in the world.

Today, the right of return is still a major problem that has yet to be solved. The forcible expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 proved to be a problem that continues to last even after the lives of the original refugees draw to a close in the early 2000s.

Today, there are over 7 million Palestinian refugees, defined as people displaced in 1948 and their descendants. These refugees and their descendants today are mostly divided between Jordan (2 million), Lebanon and Syria (around half a million each), the West Bank (+750,000) and the Gaza Strip (1.2 million).

While most Palestinians were driven out, some remained in what became Israel. Although citizens of the new state, they were subject to Israeli military rule until 1966. Today, Palestinian citizens of Israel comprise nearly 20 per cent of Israel's population. They have the right to vote and run for office, but more than 20 Israeli laws explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. Nearly one-quarter of Israel's Palestinians are "internally displaced" persons, unable to return to the homes and lands that were taken from them.

All refugees enjoy internationally-recognized rights to return to areas from which they have fled or were forced out, to receive compensation for damages, and to either regain their properties or receive compensation and support for voluntary resettlement. This right was affirmed for the Palestinians by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948. Israel, however, does not allow Palestinian refugees to return, although a Jew from anywhere in the world can settle in Israel.

The Nakba and its following implications continue to make the life of Palestinians harder in historical Palestine and exile. Hamas has been active to bring an end to this ongoing Nakba perpetuated by the occupation, successive aggressions and large scale offensives and settlement activities undermining resources and livelihood but never the hopes of the people of Palestine. Hamas commits itself to continue all activities undermining the legacy of Zionist occupiers locally, regionally and internationally in order to restore freedom and end the ongoing Nakba.

Useful Links:

al-Nakba: the Palestinian "Catastrophe" 

Ten Facts About The Nakba 

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics - Special Statistical Bulletin On the 64th Anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba