Palestinians mark 74th Nakba amid anger over journalist’s killing

Solemn anniversary comes at a time when many are angered by the killing of Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 74th anniversary of Nakba or catastrophe, in Ramallah
Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 74th anniversary of Nakba, or 'the catastrophe', in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on May 15, 2022 [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

On May 15, 1948, Israel was established as a Jewish-majority state at the expense of the forced expulsion of about 750,000 Palestinians.

The day has subsequently been commemorated annually as Nakba Day.

The word “Nakba” means “catastrophe” in Arabic, and refers to the systematic ethnic cleansing of two-thirds of the Palestinian population by Zionist paramilitaries between 1947-1949 and the near-total destruction of Palestinian society.

Zionist forces had taken more than 78 percent of historic Palestine, ethnically cleansed and destroyed about 530 villages and cities, and killed about 15,000 Palestinians in a series of mass atrocities, including more than 70 massacres.

This year marks 74 years of Al-Nakba, or the Palestinian experience of dispossession and loss of a homeland. The anniversary comes at a time when many are angered by the killing of prominent Al Jazeera veteran journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.

INTERACTIVE What is the Nakba infographic map
(Al Jazeera)

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Palestinian embassy in Doha marks Nakba Day by holding memorial for Shireen Abu Akleh

Members of the Palestinian community and colleagues of slain journalist Shireen Abu Akleh have gathered in Qatar’s capital to mark the 74th anniversary of Nakba Day and commemorate the reporter’s life.

Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Doha, said that “a lot of people believe that through the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh the Palestinian voice has become a lot more united.”

“She symbolised what was at the essence of the Palestinian struggle – the struggle for freedom, to express oneself,” Elshayyal said.

At least 16 injured at Nakba march at West Bank crossing

At least 16 Palestinians have been injured during clashes that broke out with Israeli forces at the northern entrance to al-Bireh, a West Bank city located 15 kilometres from Jerusalem, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said the injuries included seven by live ammunition and three by rubber-coated steel bullets. Four people reported breathing following tear gas inhalation.

Israeli forces attacked a rally that took place at the northern entrance to al-Bireh city to mark the 74th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba (“catastrophe”), leading to clashes, WAFA said.

Palestinians carry a demonstrator wounded during clashes with the Israeli forces following a rally marking the 74th anniversary of Nakba.
Palestinians carry a demonstrator wounded during clashes with Israeli forces following a rally marking the 74th anniversary of Nakba [Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Shireen Abu Akleh filed last report on Nakba before being shot

In her final report before being killed by Israeli forces, Shireen Abu Akleh visited Al Ruwwayyes, one of more than 500 villages from which Palestinians were expelled in 1948.

Among them was Abu Ibrahim, who was 11 years old the day the local mosque was blown up and his family had to flee.

Palestinians “still yearn to return to their homes”, Abu Akleh said in the report. “This is the life of refugees.”

Two-state solution still viable despite ongoing displacement: Palestinian PM

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has told Al Jazeera that the two-state solution is still viable, despite Israel’s efforts to fragment the Palestinian territory.

“This is all designed to destroy the possibility of a state of Palestine,” he said.

Shtayyeh said calls by the present United States administration in favour of a two-state solution were encouraging, but “it is not enough to talk”.

“The destruction needs to be stopped,” he said.

INTERACTIVE What are Israeli settlements
(Al Jazeera)

Nakba expression of “sadness, suffering and pain”: Hamas

Gazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, told Al Jazeera that “Nakba is an expression of our sadness, of our suffering, of our pain”.

“We still believe that Palestine, after 70 years of occupation, belongs to Palestinians,” he said. “The international community supports Ukraine against Russia because they believe all people should live in freedom. The Palestinians [want to] live in an independent state, in a free state.”

Shireen Abu Akleh remembered during Gaza rally

Hundreds of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip marked Nakba Day by paying tribute to Shireen Abu Akleh.

In a march that extended from Gaza City’s al-Katibah Square to the United Nations headquarters, Palestinian demonstrators held up posters of Abu Akleh.

“Shireen, for whom the church bells rang and the hands of Muslims raised in prayer, is the one who united the Palestinian spectrum in all its colours,” said Heba Akila, Al Jazeera’s correspondent.

The march began with a eulogy for Abu Akleh, and focused on her humanity and professionalism when it came to depicting Palestinian life under Israeli occupation.

Three students arrested at Tel Aviv University’s Nakba Day protest

Israeli police arrested three students during a Nakba Day event at Tel Aviv University.

The students, all Palestinian citizens of Israel, were first attacked by a far-right group, said Amal Jamal, a professor at the university.

“What happened today was a confrontation initiated by the extreme right attacking Arab students who wanted to perform a sit-in [in commemoration of] Al-Nakba,” Jamal told Al Jazeera.

It is disgraceful that the police usually defends these far-right groups, he added.

Eleen Nasra, a student, said the sit-in was done to educate Jewish and foreign students on campus about the Nakba.

“The fascist right group began with provoking one of the students who tried not to react,” she recounted. “Then the police entered the area and started to swarm the students. Musta’ribeen [undercover Israeli forces disguised as Palestinians] were among the police and they started the attack.”

Israel’s arrests of Palestinian children under the spotlight

Defense for Children International Palestine says 500 to 700 Palestinian children are arrested and prosecuted in the military courts each year. In the latest episode of the Essential Middle East podcast, we take a closer look at the detention of young people in Israeli prisons.

Nakba represents transferral of “intergenerational trauma”

Honaida Ghanim, the general director of the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies, told Al Jazeera the Nakba is an ongoing injustice of erasing and fragmenting the Palestinian people.

“It is the ongoing injustice where Jews from anywhere can come and live in Palestine whereas Palestinians refugees cannot even visit,” she said, speaking from Ramallah.

“There isn’t one Palestinian family that has not been impacted by the Nakba. Unfortunately, we are transferring intergenerational trauma to our children. We wish we were commemorating what happened in 1948, but it is an ongoing feeling where you cross checkpoints and face the brutality of the military Israeli occupation through daily destruction, house demolitions, and ethnic cleansing.”

Palestinian armed fighter dies from wound days after Israeli raid

A Palestinian gunman has died after being critically wounded in an armed confrontation with Israeli forces in Jenin refugee camp last Friday.

Daoud al-Zubaidi, 43, died in Rambam hospital after sustaining wounds following a raid by Israeli forces into the camp.

Al-Zubaidi is the brother of Zakaria al-Zubaidi, one of the six prisoners who escaped from Gilboa prison last year.

“Thus, there is a state of great anger within the Palestinian territories over the killing of al-Zubaidi,” said Al Jazeera’s Samir Abu Shammala.

“So far, Israel has refrained from transferring Zubeidi’s body to Jenin camp for burial.”

Sirens sound for 74 seconds marking Nakba Day in Ramallah

In the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, sirens went off for 74 seconds, marking the 74th anniversary of the Nakba.

Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim said the day is especially poignant for the six million Palestinian refugees within the country and outside of it.

“There’s been a lot of emphasis on the right of return,” she said, speaking from Ramallah. “Looking at the political situation, not only are Palestinians not able to return back to their lands, they are struggling to stay on the lands that they are currently in.”

“Whether it is firing zones, natural reserves, or security buffer zones – all these names have been used by the Israeli military to rule over Palestinians,” Ibrahim added.

Israeli soldier who shot Shireen Abu Akleh interrogated: Haaretz

Israeli daily Haaretz said that the soldier accused of killing Abu Akleh has been interrogated, and was sitting in an army vehicle 190 metres away from the journalist.

Citing an unnamed Israeli official, Haaretz said the soldier, despite his rifle having a telescopic lens, did not see Abu Akleh.

“Reading between the lines, it is very much a step back from the initial assessment from the army and the establishment here, who said potentially it would have been a Palestinian gunman,” said Al Jazeera’s Stefanie Dekker.

“Our colleagues who were on the ground with Shireen were extremely clear that they believed it was the army,” she continued, speaking from occupied East Jerusalem. “It now seems to be indicating that the Israelis are now slowly starting to say it looks like it may have been one of their soldiers who fired the fatal shot.”

Blinken offers support to family of slain Palestinian journalist

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the family of slain Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh after criticising Israel’s use of force at her funeral.

Blinken offered “deep condolences” in a phone call with family members of Shireen Abu Akleh, a US Department of State official said.

The top US diplomat “noted Abu Akleh’s journalistic body of work and the importance of a free and independent press”, the official said on customary condition of anonymity.

Blinken offered the support of US diplomats in Jerusalem to the family of Abu Akleh, who also held US citizenship.

Abu Akleh, a prominent journalist across the Arab world, was killed last Wednesday by an Israeli sniper while covering an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.

One year since Al Jazeera offices destroyed by Israel in Gaza

Al Jazeera’s Youmna El Sayed announced the reopening of the new Al Jazeera bureau in Gaza City on the anniversary of Israel destroying the network’s media offices.

The Jalaa building, which housed Al Jazeera and The Associated Press offices, was targeted by Israeli forces last May during the 11-day offensive on the Gaza Strip. At least 266 Palestinians were killed.

INTERACTIVE Israel bombs Al Jazeera office in Gaza one year on
(Al Jazeera)

According to local officials, 50 media offices were targeted during the war.

“Today, we stand here after one whole year after working from various locations and temporary offices,” El Sayed said, standing in front of the rubble that used to be the Jalaa building in Gaza.

“This hasn’t stopped us from reporting,” she continued. “We’ve become more persistent towards what we do.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies