Nakba: The Great Tragedy In Israel-Palestine Conflict – OpEd


The history of Israel-Palestine conflict is full of devastating and unfortunate events that are still going on. These devastating events have not only made the issue more complex and difficult to resolve but also caused the loss of precious lives. The most tragic event among them is ‘Nakba’ in 1948. It is also known as the “Palestinian Catastrophe”. The term is marked by the permanent destruction of Palestinian society, their homes, villages, and displacement of many Palestinian Arabs in 1948. It also refers to the current prosecution of Israel on Arabs in West bank and in Gaza.  

This tragic event is marked by the violent activities of Israeli forces and militant groups, Irgun, and Zionist militias during the first Arab-Israel war in 1948. Zionist military forces expelled 750000 Palestinians from their homes and captured the 78% land of historic Palestine during the war. After the war, a large number of Palestinians tried to return to their homes but they were never given right of return and almost 5000 Arabs were killed during this period. Between 1947 t0 1949, Zionist militant groups attacked at various villages of Palestine and destroyed them. They destroyed almost 530 major villages of Arabs in Palestine and killed hundreds of people in atrocities and massacre. On April 9,1948, Zionist forces attacked at village of Deir Yasin and killed more than 110 men, women, and children. Zionist forces committed dozens of massacres including Baldat-AlSheikh massacre in December 1947, Al-Khisas massacre in December 1947, Al-Abbasiya massacre in May 1948 and Lydda massacre in July 1948, in all these violent activities Zionist forces killed almost 15000 people and 750000 people were displaced. Geographic names throughout the land were replaced with Hebrew names, non-Jewish historical places were destroyed including 80% mosques of the Palestine were destroyed or turned into museums. Several laws were introduced by new born state of Israel to legalize the occupation of Palestinian’s land.  

Nakba was the only cause of Palestinians diaspora. All the Palestinians became stateless because of Nakba. Today, more than 13million Palestinians lives in diaspora. Initially, the Arabs themselves left their homes when the violent activities were started by Zionist forces and moved to other places with a hope that they would return home when situation will be improved. But they were never given the right of return. The Palestinian key is the Palestinian symbol of their lost homes in the Nakba, when more than half of the population of Palestine was either expelled or fled violence in the 1948 Palestinian exodus and subsequently refused the right to return. Almost 75 years later the key remains a potent symbol and reminder of physical and emotional loss and injustice. It is considered part of a hope for return and a claim for the lost property. The keys are large and old-fashioned in style. Enlarged replicas are often found around Palestinian refugee camps and used at pro-Palestinian demonstrations around the world as collective symbols. 

The Nakba also left a long-lasting political impact on the Palestinians. Because of the shattered economic and social structure, no significant progress was seen in Palestine for the next few decades.  Due to wars and political tension, no Arab states emerged comparable to Israel. Palestinians lost their political identity. Resultantly, for the next two decades after Nakba, no significant political movement emerged in the Palestine. The first uniquely Palestinian nationalist movement that emerged internationally was Al-Fatah by Yasser Arafat and his companions in the late 1950s, among refugees in the Gulf countries. Its aims were relatively simple: fight for their return to the refugees’ homes and lands in Israel through armed struggle and self-reliance instead of placing their faith in Arab parties and regimes to lead the struggle do it for them. Palestinian cultural and intellectual life has also been deeply affected by the Nakba and the refugee experience. A culture of return, of dispossession, exile, and the dispersal of Palestinian life, has embedded in Palestinian cultural life since the Nakba. On the literary level, all of the great Palestinian men and women of the past 60 years have centered their writing on 1948, the Nakba, and the shattering of Palestinian life. 

 From the other side of the coin, the period of the Nakba is the period which Israelis refer to as the birth of the state of Israel and their war of Independence. Israelis generally believe that the 1948 war and its outcome are equally formative and fundamental event – as an act of justice and redemption for the Jewish people after centuries of historical suffering. 15 May is regarded as the day of commemorating Nakba. The day was officially inaugurated by Yasser Arafat in 1998, though the date had been unofficially used for protests since as early as 1949. 

The Nakba did more than suppressing the emergence of a Palestinian state, and create the refugee problem. By shattering and disintegrated a society, massacre activities and by economic exploitation, Zionist groups did not let Palestinians to stand on their feet and to make some progress. In the present era, no progress is possible on the issue of Israel and Palestine without knowing these past events. While Palestinians commemorate the Nakba of 1948 every year and, on every occasion, but still, they are facing extreme violence in West bank and in Gaza. Mass killing of Palestinians is becoming routine day by day that is not questioned by any state or any organization. For Palestinians, the Nakba has not over yet and it will not over until they will get their right of return to their homes. 

Muhammad Adam Khan

Muhammad Adam Khan, Student of Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defence University,Islamabad, Pakistan. Contact: [email protected]

One thought on “Nakba: The Great Tragedy In Israel-Palestine Conflict – OpEd

  • September 9, 2022 at 11:42 pm

    This piece is a rehash of all the old lies that Arabs have been telling themselves for the last 80 years. And where have all those lies gotten them?

    How much better off everyone would have been if the Arabs had not considered a Jewish state re-established on 10,000 sq. mi. of its ancient homeland a “catastrophe” (considering the millions upon millions of square miles of the defeated Ottoman Empire that were given over to new Arab nations). How many lives would not have been lost if the Arabs had accepted UNGA 181, or had not initiated the war by firing on Jewish civilian buses on Nov. 30, 1947, in response to that UN resolution?


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