76 years after the Nakba, the Palestinians are going through the 2nd largest exodus in their history

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– / AFP Palestinians fleeing Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, May 12, 2024.

– / AFP

Palestinians fleeing Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, May 12, 2024.

GAZA – While the war between Hamas and the Israeli army has lasted for more than seven months now, the date of May 15, in the midst of the conflict, has become a strong symbol in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Gazans currently in forced exile in Rafah, or outside the town located on the Egyptian border.

Like every year, the day of the Nakba (the “catastrophe”) was commemorated in the Arab world, this period when the Palestinians experienced their first exodus with the creation of Israel in 1948. Seventy-six years later, already 450,000 Gazans are refugees from the ongoing war, constituting the second largest Arab exodus.

HuffPost come back below on the three biggest exoduses of inhabitants of this territory whose history has been rewritten at regular intervals since the end of the 1940s.

• 1948: the Nakba, an exodus of 760,000 Arabs from Palestine

It is to date the largest exodus in the history of the Palestinian territory. At the start of the Arab-Israeli war on May 15, 1948, at the end of the British mandate over Palestine, hundreds of thousands of inhabitants were forced to flee, chased or expelled from their villages. For nearly eleven months, around 760,000 of them left for the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Egypt, Lebanon or Syria. Belowthe 1947 map allows us to recall the place of the Palestinian and Jewish territories shortly before the Nakba.

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For these refugees, life is organized in camps where they group together by territorial or religious affinities. Over time, the 58 camps recognized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) became neighborhoods, then towns, in the Arab countries bordering Palestine, remember The New Obs. With this first exodus, the status of Palestinian refugee will be the only one to be transmitted from generation to generation by virtue of a special status recognized by the UN agency.

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Stringer. Palestinians fleeing an unidentified village in the Galilee during 1948.

Stringer.

Palestinians fleeing an unidentified village in the Galilee during 1948.

• 1967: the Naksa, an exodus of 300,000 West Bankers and Gazans

About twenty years later, the Palestinian people will experience a new significant exodus, the Naksa (the “setback”, the day of which is commemorated on June 5), when 300,000 Arabs from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank fled after the IDF’s victory in the Six-Day War in 1967. During it, Israel took control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Several Palestinian villages were completely razed during this lightning war which involved Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

Among those expelled, 250,000 West Bankers crossed the Jordan to take refuge in Jordan. These “displaced people”according to the official UN terminology and as stipulated in a resolution of December 18, 1968, have a right of return, relates Young Africa. But Israel refused, so these refugees continued to swell the Palestinian camps in Jordan at the time.

>>Palestinians queue in the Wadi Dalail refugee camp, Jordan, August 1967.>>
AFP Palestinians queue in the Wadi Dalail refugee camp, Jordan, August 1967.

AFP

Palestinians queue in the Wadi Dalail refugee camp, Jordan, August 1967.

• 2024: the Israel-Hamas war, an exodus of 450,000 Gazans

As of May 14, tens of thousands of civilians continue to flee the town of Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, shelled by Israel and threatened with a major ground offensive. And since the army ordered civilians to leave the eastern areas of Rafah on May 6, “nearly 450,000 people were forcibly displaced”, announced UNRWA, without specifying where these displaced people had gone, elsewhere in Rafah or outside the city, which according to the UN hosts 1.4 million people. These refugee people “are exhausted, hungry, and constantly afraid”adds UNRWA, while humanitarian aid has no longer reached the inhabitants of Gaza since May 9 according to Qatar.

Almost a quarter of the total population of the Gaza Strip, a territory of 360 km² where 2.3 million inhabitants live, is now displaced.

>>Tents set up along the beach in Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, by Palestinians who fled Rafah, May 12, 2024.>>
– / AFP Tents set up along the beach in Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, by Palestinians who fled Rafah, May 12, 2024.

– / AFP

Tents set up along the beach in Deir el-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, by Palestinians who fled Rafah, May 12, 2024.

If the Palestinian exodus linked to this war launched on October 7, 2023 is the second largest in the history of the territory, the human toll ranks first: with already more than 35,000 deaths on the Palestinian side – according to the Ministry of Defense. Health of Hamas – and 2,000 deaths on the Israeli side, it surpasses the final toll of the Six Day War of 1967 (22,000 deaths, including 21,500 on the side of the Arab coalition) or that of the Gaza War of 2008-2009 (1,345 dead, including 1,330 on the Arab side).

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