Nakba Day 76th anniversary: We must listen to Palestinian voices and take action

The 15th of May marks the forced expulsion and displacement of 700,000 thousand Palestinians during the conflict that created the State of Israel in 1948. Since then, al Nakba (The Catastrophe), as it is known in Arabic, has been engraved in Palestinian collective consciousness as a story of relentless dispossession. The crimes that were committed in 1948 draw haunting parallels to the action that Israeli forces have been committing in Palestine in recent months. This year on the 76th anniversary of al Nakba we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Al Nakba and its legacy

During the 1948 Nakba, more than 530 towns and villages were destroyed with over 700,000 Palestinians displaced from their homes, villages and cities. Their homes have either been settled and renamed, or left in ruins.They’ve never received compensation for their losses, and have been denied the right to return.

Unfortunately, the atrocities of al Nakba weren’t isolated. Over the decades, Palestinian refugees have faced multiple waves of displacement, with some losing their homes several times. In 1967, some 300,000 Palestinians were displaced following Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Since then, tens of thousands of others in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) have been made homeless or forcibly displaced again because of Israel’s aggressive land-grabbing and illegal settlement policies, home demolitions and forced evictions.

With currently more than 7 million Palestinian refugees worldwide, Palestinians are one of the world’s largest refugee populations. In many countries, they face poverty and systematic human rights violations and most don’t have access to resettlement, which could alleviate their plight, particularly in places where their situation is precarious.

By establishing a system of apartheid, the Israeli authorities continue to deny Palestinian people their human rights. Under apartheid, Palestinian’s face continued forcible displacement. Entire Palestinian communities have been uprooted and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians’ homes have been demolished.

Since the most recent outbreak of violence on 7 October, over 35,000 people have been killed. The already dire situation of Palestinians in Gaza worsens, as millions have been forcibly displaced to Rafah in the south of Gaza due to repeated bombing by Israel. There are currently over 1 million people in Rafah, with not enough food, water or electricity to provide for their needs. The Rafah Crossing has been closed, and aid has been cut off, as Israeli Forces escalate their ground incursion into Rafah, putting the lives of over half of Gaza’s population at risk. 100,000 people have been told to evacuate eastern Rafah by Israeli Forces. The areas that citizens are being told to evacuate to lack the most basic standards for safe and dignified living, after constant Israeli bombardment. There is nowhere safe for people to go. We must stop Israel’s string of war crimes and put an end to the killing of civilians.

Voices of Palestinians

Amnesty interviewed Palestinian people who currently live in Australia to understand their perspective on al Nakba and to learn about their impactful stories.

“The Nakba started in 1948 and over the last 75 years it actually hasn’t stopped. They’ve got no food, no shelter, no electricity, no oil, no gas, no medicine, and nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. It is like hell on earth for them right now.” Reem Borrows, Business Coach

“I came to Australia, I actually had no citizenship, it is extremely difficult for one to have ambitions and goals in life when you don’t even really know what sort of identity you have.”

“I’m a Palestinian. I’ve never been to Palestine. I’m a Palestinian. I can never go back to Palestine.” Humam Mahmoud – Palestinian Refugee

“It’s almost like Palestinians are looked at as second class human beings. It’s almost like our lives are not valued the same.” Humam Mahmoud – Palestinian Refugee

“The Nakba means that I’m basically a stateless person and I have nothing to go back to. It’s very difficult to put into words. And if I could say from an emotional perspective, it’s constantly living in a state of ‘qaher’, which means frustration, but it’s a different level of frustration.” Al-Shayma Nahya, Human Rights Lawyer

“There are survivors of the first Nakba that are saying we’re undergoing yet another one. It’s the second time that they’re displaced from their homes on foot, again, with nothing, just with whatever they can carry.” Diala El-Mahdi, Teacher

The Australian Government must protect Palestinians by all means

The Australian government must do everything in its power to ensure a sustained and permanent ceasefire, especially as Israel has begun a ground operation in Rafah. They must lobby for the reopening of aid routes, and allow unhindered humanitarian access to reach Palestinians.

The Australian government must also make sure it has no part in the atrocities being committed by Israel, by not allowing the export of arms, arms parts or ammunition to Israel. Nothing made in Australia should contribute to the violation of international humanitarian law.

What you can do

Here are some actions you can take to help protect Palestinians and ensure they can live in peace, free from violence.

  • Sign the petition calling for the Government to not allow the export of any arms to Israel including arms parts.
  • We must provide refuge to Palestinians whose lives are under threat. Sign the petition now, calling on Andrew Giles and the Albanese government to raise Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian intake.
  • Email your MP and urge them to call for a ceasefire now.
  • Take action now by calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately end the forced evictions of Palestinians, and the demolition of Palestinian homes.
  • Donate today to help people find safety.

Email your MP and urge them to speak out and take action so that people in Gaza can live free from violence.