Palestinians mark 76 years of dispossession as a potentially even larger catastrophe unfolds in Gaza

(13 May 2024)

Muwasi area of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip – 12 May 2024
1. Various of Mustafa al-Gazzar, 81, sitting inside his tent with his family
2. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mustafa al-Gazzar, displaced man:
"Here is the Nakba. Today, on the anniversary of the 1948 Nakba, we are suffering what no human being suffers. I swear that what Israel threw at us during 8 months and ten days is greater than the atomic bomb that struck Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the world stands by Israel and does not stand by the oppressed. We are, O world oppressed, O world, have mercy on us, stand with us, stop the aggression."
3. Various of al-Gazzar listening to the news on the radio with his wife
4. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mustafa al-Gazzar, displaced man:
"We are not living today in a single migration, but different levels of migration, meaning migration today is equal to a thousand migrations compared
to the year of 1948, displacement without shelter, displacement without cover, without water, without food, food is not available."
5. Various of people setting up new tents
6. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mustafa al-Gazzar, displaced man:
"Instead of being in the mosque, I am displaced. Instead of being with my grandchildren, my sons, my son’s wives, my daughters, my loved ones, and my neighbors, living among them in a happy and prosperous life, am I being displaced? How many displacements will I live through?"
7. Various of al-Gazzar sitting with his wife outside his tent
8. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mustafa al-Gazzar, displaced man:
"My hope in 1948 was to return, but my hope today is to survive. There is a gap between returning to my original homeland in Yabna and to my farm and my house and to my citrus trees and the water well, to live in between. Today I only hope to live healthy and without a disability. I swear that there is no livelihood today."
9. Various of thousands of tents, displaced people moving near tents
10. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Mustafa al-Gazzar, displaced man:
"I am unable to provide security and safety for myself. I live in extreme fear. I am unable to provide my son and my grandson with security and safety."
11. Various of thousands of tents for displaced people
Palestinians on Wednesday will mark the 76th year of their mass expulsion from what is now Israel, an event that is at the core of their national struggle but in many ways pales in comparison to the calamity now unfolding in Gaza.

Palestinians refer to it as the “Nakba,” Arabic for “catastrophe.”

Some 700,000 Palestinians — a majority of the prewar population — fled or were driven from their homes before and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that followed Israel’s establishment.

After the war, Israel refused to allow them to return because it would have resulted in a Palestinian majority within its borders.

Instead, they became a seemingly permanent refugee community that now numbers some 6 million, with most living in impoverished urban refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

In Gaza, the refugees and their descendants make up around 3/4 of the population.

Israel’s rejection of what Palestinians say is their right of return has been a core grievance in the conflict and was one of the thorniest issues in peace talks that last collapsed 15 years ago.

The refugee camps have always been the main bastions of Palestinian militancy.

Now, many Palestinians fear a repeat of their painful history on an even more cataclysmic scale.

“My hope in 1948 was to return, but my hope today is to survive,” he said.

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