Ten Facts You Need To Know About The Palestinian Nakba

Today, on May 15th, we mark the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). During the Nakba, between 750,000 and 1,000,000 Indigenous Palestinians were driven out of their homes and ethnically cleansed at the hands of Zionist militias and, later, the Israeli army to establish the state of Israel as a Jewish supremacist settler-colony.


Apartheid Israel’s colonial violence and naked aggression have never stopped. But neither has Palestinian resilience, popular resistance and sumud (steadfastness). In Gaza, Jenin, Beita, Masafer Yatta, the Jordan Valley, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and Al-Naqab, across historic Palestine and in exile, Palestinians stand united against Israel’s regime of settler colonialism and apartheid. 

With the rise of the most openly racist far-right government in Israel, Palestinians have been subjected to renewed and intensified campaigns of ethnic cleansing and settlement construction, land and water theft, repeated massacres in besieged Gaza, mass arrests, and restriction of movement. This year Israel’s occupation forces and illegal settlers have murdered over 150 Palestinians, including 26 children, and it is only May. 

And still we rise! We shall continue the struggle for our liberation, for our inalienable rights, including our right to self-determination and the right of refugees to return home. Onward we march for freedom, justice, equality and dignity!

Here are 10 facts you need to know about the Palestinian Nakba: 

1- Between 1947 and 1949, Israel and pre-state Zionist militias forced between 750,000 and 1,000,000 Indigenous Palestinian Arabs into exile, making them refugees. 

2 - Today, there are around 8 million Palestinian refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and neighbouring Arab countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. Apartheid Israel has persistently denied their UN-sanctioned right to return to their homes, lands and other property simply because they are not Jewish.

3 - The ethnic cleansing during the Nakba was a deliberate, planned and systematic campaign carried out in order to create what human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al-Haq and B’Tselem call “a Jewish supremacy” in historic Palestine, which was overwhelmingly populated by Palestinian Arabs prior to 1948.

4 - Contrary to Zionist mythology, pre-state Zionist militias began their ethnic cleansing of Palestinian towns and villages months before the establishment of the State of Israel. The massacre and depopulation of the Palestinian village of Deir Yasin, for instance, took place on 9 April 1948. 

5 - Approximately 150,000 Palestinians remained inside what became Israel's borders in 1948, many of them internally displaced. They were eventually granted Israeli citizenship but lived for years under military rule. To this day, Palestinian citizens of Israel live as second-class citizens in their own homeland, subjected to a system of apartheid enshrined in dozens of racist laws that discriminate against them.

 6 - During the Nakba, Zionist militias and, later, Israeli forces systematically destroyed about 530 Palestinian towns and villages to prevent exiled Palestinian refugees from returning. Many homes that remained standing were repopulated with Jewish-Israeli colonial settlers. 

 7 - The Jewish National Fund (JNF), an openly racist pillar of the Zionist settler-colonial project in Palestine, acquired approximately 78 percent of its land holdings from the Israeli state between 1949 and 1953, much of it agricultural land of ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugees that the state had confiscated and designated as “absentee property.” The JNF holds this stolen Palestinian land as “the perpetual property of the Jewish People.” 

 8 - The Nakba did not end in 1948 but continues to this day in the form of apartheid Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinian communities; theft of Palestinian land for Jewish-Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory as well as inside present-day Israel; destruction of Palestinian homes and agricultural land; revocation of residency rights; expulsions; demographic engineering; and periodic massacres.

 9 - Israel is currently attempting to implement the largest mass ethnic cleansing since 1968, targeting some 1,300 Palestinians living in eight villages in the area of Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron. Many of the Palestinians in Masafer Yatta have already  fled Israeli massacres in Al-Naqab, committed by Israeli forces during and in the aftermath of the Nakba.  What is happening now in Masafer Yatta  is a prime example of the ongoing Nakba. It repeats itself still today in Al-Naqab, Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, and across the territory under Israeli control. Indigenous Palestinians are being forced from their homes by state-sponsored violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers, Israeli police, and armed, fascist Israeli settlers.

 10 - Israel has a law that prohibits Palestinians–second-class–citizens of the state from commemorating the Nakba. This does not stop Palestinians from remembering and insisting on our right to return to our ancestral lands. 

Commemorate the Nakba wherever you are, share the stories of the Nakba from Palestinians, and join BDS campaigns, the most effective way to support our struggle to achieve our internationally recognized rights, including the right of return for refugees.


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