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Palestinians mark the 76th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’

PALESTINIANS will mark on Wednesday the 76th year of their mass expulsion from what is now Israel, an event that is at the core of their national struggle. 

This comes amid the ongoing Israeli onslaught against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinians refer to the events 76 years ago as the Nakba, which is Arabic for “catastrophe.”

Some 700,000 Palestinians — a majority of the pre-war 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. 

In Gaza, the refugees and their descendants make up around three-quarters of the population.

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

Mustafa al-Gazzar, now 81, still recalls his family’s flight from their village in what is now central Israel to the southern city of Rafah, when he was five. 

At one point they were bombed from the air, at another, they dug holes under a tree to sleep in for warmth.

Al-Gazzar, now a great-grandfather, was forced to flee again over the weekend, this time to a tent in Muwasi, a barren coastal area where some 450,000 Palestinians live in a squalid camp. 

He says the conditions are worse than in 1948, when the UN agency for Palestinian refugees was able to regularly provide food and other essentials.

Israel’s invasion of Gaza, which followed the Hamas cross-border assault of October 7 which killed 1,139 people, has so far killed more than 35,000 Palestinians according to local health officials, making it by far the deadliest round of fighting in the history of the conflict. 

Mediators from Qatar say the Israeli attack on the southern city of Rafah has set ceasefire negotiations with Hamas backward and that talks have lost steam.

Today Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani told the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha that after some initial momentum things are now “on a status of almost a stalemate.”

Sheikh Mohammed said there was no clarity on how to stop the war from the Israeli side. 

“I don’t think that they are considering this as an option even when we are talking about the deal and leading to a potential ceasefire,” he said.

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