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Commemorating Palestinian Nakba: 76 Years of Resilience


The Palestinian refers to Nakba, the catastrophe, as the root of Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation. Historically, it describes the process of ethnic cleansing in which an unarmed native Palestinian nation was destroyed mercilessly and its population was displaced systematically to be replaced by Jewish occupiers and settlers from all over the world.

The historical Palestine witnessed the displacement of more than 1 million out of 1.4 million Palestinians in 1948. 1300 villages and towns were pillaged with the destruction of 531 such Palestinian abodes. And, more than 70 massacres were orchestrated creating 15,000 martyrs as per the historical documentary evidence.

Nevertheless, the majority of the displaced Palestinians ended up in neighboring Arab countries, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in other countries around the globe. Every year, Palestinians painfully commemorate May 15th to remember the tragic expulsion of hundreds of thousands from their homes and lands after the founding of Israel in 1948.

Continuous Ethnic Cleansing since 1948

Dr. Ola Awad, President of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) has reviewed the geographical, demographical, and economic situation of the Palestinian people on the 76th Annual Commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba. The review has been conducted via statistical figures and historical and current data.

Despite, the displacement of more than one million Palestinians in 1948 and more than 200 thousand Palestinians (the majority of them to Jordan) after the 1967 war, the Palestinian world population reached 14.63 million by the end of 2023. The key findings declare that the number of Palestinians worldwide has doubled about 10 times since the Nakba.

However, approximately 134,000 Palestinians and Arabs have been killed both inside and outside Palestine. Moreover, the number of martyrs in Al-Aqsa Intifada from 29th September 2000 until 30th April 2024 was about 46,500. Recently, the number of martyrs in Palestine since the initiation of Israeli aggression and offensive operations against the Gaza Strip on 7th October 2023 till 7th May 2024 has crossed more than 35 thousand.

Among them, more than 14,873 were children and more than 9,801 were women. In addition, more than 141 journalists were martyred according to the records of the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip.

On the other hand, the number of martyrs has reached 492 Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of the Israeli aggression on October 7th, 2023. In the same vein, more than 1 million detention cases have been registered since 1967 against Palestinians.

According to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs data, the number of detainees in the Israeli occupation prisons reached more than 9,400 by the end of April 2024. These included 3,600 administrative detainees (detained without charge), 849 classified as unlawful combatants along with 80 female detainees and 229 children.

Moreover, the number of arrest cases reached more than 8,520 in the West Bank from October 7th, 2023 until March 25th, 2024. The arrest cases in Gaza Strip are still mounting and estimated to be in the thousands.

Significantly, by the end of 2023, the number of Palestinians in historical Palestine has reached about 7.3 million. While, the number of Israelis reached 7.2 million, which means Palestinian population (50.3%) exceeds Jews (49.7%) in historical Palestine.

Illegal Israeli Settlements and Confiscation of Palestinian Lands

Israel has continuously been expanding illegal settlements across the West Bank. The end of 2022 highlighted that 483 such Israeli occupation sites and military bases have been developed in the West Bank. These include 151 settlements, 25 inhabited outposts considered as proper neighbourhoods following established settlements, 163 settlement outposts, and 144 classified as other sites (industrial, tourists, service areas and Israeli army bases).

Accordingly, 2023 witnessed a significant increase in the pace of construction and expansion of these illegal settlements in the West Bank. The occupying force unilaterally approved construction of more than 18,000 new settlement housing units in the entire West Bank, including Jerusalem Governorate.

Parallel to this, the occupation force is demolishing Palestinian buildings and facilities. As per the 2023 data from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 659 buildings and facilities in the West Bank (including 70 self-demolition operations in Jerusalem) have been completely or partially demolished. In addition, confiscated areas have doubled during 2023 (50,526 dunums) compared to 2022 (26,000 dunums).

With regards to demographical comparisons, the proportion of settlers to Palestinian population on average in the West Bank is about 23 settlers per 100 Palestinians. However, the highest recorded in yester years has been in Jerusalem Governorate with 69 settlers per 100 Palestinians.

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Noteworthy, the number of settlers in the West Bank has reached 745,467 by the end of 2022. The data referenced by the President PCBS showed that around 45.1% of settlers live in Jerusalem Governorate which is about 336,272 settlers. While, out of these illegal residents, 246,990 settlers live in East Jerusalem alone and “includes those parts of Jerusalem which were annexed by Israeli occupation in 1967”.

It is then followed by Ramallah and Al-Bireh Governorate with 149,143 settlers, Bethlehem Governorate with 98,384 settlers, Salfit Governorate with 53,455 settlers and the lowest ranking Tubas & the Northern Valleys Governorate with 2,717 illegal settlers.

October 7, 2023 and losses in the Gaza Strip

Buildings: Since the initiation of Israeli aggression on October 7th, 2023, out of 89,000 damaged buildings, more than 31,000 have been completely destroyed while 58,000 are severely or partially damaged in the Gaza Strip. Out of these, more than 104 buildings belong to the United Nations.

Housing Units: Data reveals that 86,000 housing units have been entirely destroyed, in addition to 294,000 thousand partially damaged, constituting about 70% of the total housing units in Gaza Strip.

Protected Civilian Infrastructure: Approximately, USD 30 billion initial direct losses have been estimated by the Palestinian government information office. These losses have incurred through destruction of protected civilian infrastructure such as schools, universities, hospitals, mosques, churches, government headquarters, thousands of economic establishments and agricultural areas, as well as infrastructure including streets, water and sewage lines, and electricity making Gaza Strip an uninhabitable place to survive in.

However, rallying through the abandoned villages of Al-Kassayer and Al-Husha, wrapped in keffiyeh scarves and waving Palestinian flags, thousands of Palestinians revisited the ruins on 14th May, 2024 from where they were expelled during the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation.

The slogan commemorating Nakba on the 76th year of resilience was “Your Independence Day is our catastrophe” highlighting the urge for survival and struggle for self-determination.

When Palestinians commemorate the Nakba on May 15, they are not only remembering a violent historical event that took place 75 years ago, they are also marking the fact that the “catastrophe” did not end in 1948, but continues in different forms to this day.

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