A brief history of the observance and politics of Nakba day.
During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and the subsequent mass expulsions that lasted until October 1950, approximately 85 percent of the Arab Palestinians who had lived in the areas of Mandatory Palestine that ultimately were subjected to Israeli sovereignty were driven outside the borders of the newly established state of Israel. In the process, hundreds of Palestinian villages were completely destroyed, and the larger towns and cities lost most, if not all, of their Arab populations.
Differing existential conditions among Palestinian communities have led to a growing discrepancy in the collective self–image of both groups.
Between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinian refugees took shelter in the remaining parts of Palestine still under Arab control (the Gaza Strip and the West Bank), as well as in the neighboring Arab countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, as well as elsewhere. These events are known in the Palestinian vocabulary as the Nakba (meaning ‘catastrophe’ in Arabic), and they constitute the key episode in Palestinian national history.
Those 156,000 Palestinians who remained under Israeli rule could not escape the dramatic consequences of the Nakba: about one-sixth of them came from nearby villages that were destroyed and depopulated. Subsequently they became internal refugees; many other lost their lands to Israeli state expropriations even though they remained in their villages; and families were torn apart never again to be reunited.