Unveiling the Unfinished Story: The Ongoing Nakba and Its Lingering Effects

Unveiling the Unfinished Story: The Ongoing Nakba and Its Lingering Effects
Photo by Rami Gzon via Unsplash


Talita Dielemans

Middle East and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

The 15th of May, 2023 marked the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, the Arabic word for ‘catastrophe’. [1] The Nakba is the mass displacement of Palestinians, a journey that began in 1948 during the creation of the state of Israel and still persists to this date. This anniversary highlights the world's longest refugee crisis in which Palestinian refugees have been living amidst conflict, violence, and occupation for 75 years and counting. [2] 

This article sheds light on the importance but neglect of Nakba Day. In a historic breakthrough, as of 2023 the United Nations finally recognizes and commemorates the Nakba anniversary. [3] Throughout the Nakba, a massive expulsion displaced 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and destroyed 500 villages and towns. [4] However, the Nakba is not just a historic event that happened 75 years ago, the Nakba is an ongoing event that is still displacing and taking the lives of Palestinians until the present day. 

In the current landscape, Palestinian refugees continue to exist as a dispersed community, enduring further displacement due to conflicts, living under occupation, and facing blockades. They encounter marginalisation as a result of national legislation, suffer from the deprivation of their rights, and yearn for a resolution to their prolonged exile and dispossession. [5]

According to the Palestinian health ministry, no less than one week ago, Israel took the lives of 30 Palestinians and badly injured more than 90 others in air attacks on the Gaza Strip. [6] This draws attention to the fact that the occupation and oppression endured in 1948 are still highly visible in 2023. Israeli forces have made ongoing efforts to displace Palestinians and assert control over their territory. The Nakba is a serious human rights violation and is an unfinished story that still exists and remains an ongoing tragedy for Palestinians. According to Amnesty International, Israel’s policies towards Palestinians exhibit a clear form of apartheid, characterised by segregation, dispossession, and exclusion, which leads to systematic deprivation of their human rights. [7]

Sources and further reading:

[1] United Nations ‘Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba at UN Headquarters in New York’ (15 May 2023) <https://www.un.org/unispal/nakba75/> accessed 16 May 2023.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Al Jazeera ‘Israel denies the Nakba while perpetuating it’ (13 May 2023) <https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2023/5/13/israel-denies-the-nakba-while-perpetuating-it?traffic_source=KeepReading> accessed 15 May 2023.

[5] United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East ‘The long journey of Palestine Refugees: A chronology of Palestinian displacement and dispossession’ (15 May 2015) <https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/photos/%E2%80%98-long-journey-palestine-refugees-chronology-palestinian-displacement-and> accessed 16 May 2023.

[6] Al Jazeera ‘Israel kills 30 Palestinians in Gaza as violence escalates’ (11 May 2023) <https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/5/11/israel-kills-30-palestinians-in-gaza-as-violence-escalates?traffic_source=KeepReading> accessed 15 May 2023.

[7] Amnesty International ‘Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity’ (1 February 2022) <https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/02/israels-apartheid-against-palestinians-a-cruel-system-of-domination-and-a-crime-against-humanity/> accessed 16 May 2023.