On May 15, Palestinians commemorated their 64th year of continued injustice. On this day, ever year since Israel displaced 750,000 Palestinians from their lands and homes, the Palestinians commemorate the Nakba (or “Catastrophe”). This year, however, Nakba Day is far more bitter for Palestinians, as Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are still struggling for basic rights.
Hajja Um Anaam is a Palestinian refugee from the Qaddura camp in Ramallah. She keeps the memory of her village, Deir Tarif, close to her heart. She remembers its stones, houses, alleyways, squares and gardens. Yet, today Um Anaam lives in a small room in a crowed camp in Ramallah. The warren of tiny streets and concrete houses, which have recently done away with their tin roofs, best reflects Nakba Day.
“Oh, how I yearn for my childhood days. Today, I am 75 years old. I remember our home and family. Now, they are but a fading memory. We have been displaced and killed. We will not forget. Our grandchildren will be given the keys,” Um Anaam told Al-Safir. [Clarification: the reference to keys is to those which will unlock the houses left behind by the Palestinians in 1948.]
According to her, the Palestinian people are still living in an ongoing Nakba. “Every day is Nakba to us. Our children are being killed and imprisoned. Our houses are being demolished and our land stolen, yet, the world does not lift a finger.”
Not far away from Hajja’s house in the camp lives 78-year-old Mohamed Ibrahim. The long years have taken their toll on the old man. The years weigh heavy on him, forcing his head to the ground. “Today, I do not feel like I exist. Although I still live among my family here, I am not at home. My house there was taken away from me. But I must return one day,” he told Al-Safir.
The Qaddura camp’s narrow streets are another reflection of Nakba Day. They reflect not only the painful consequences of that day, but also the dire conditions under which Palestinians live in the camps.
Many events were organized to mark the Nakba Day throughout occupied Palestinian cities, in both the West Bank and in modern-day Israel. Palestinian cities will be on a general strike. A main rally for Earth Day is scheduled to take place in the city of Al-Loujoun, inside the Green Line. Palestinians are planning to set up tents to commemorate the eve of the Nakba.
Israel has approved a law, known as the “Nakba Law,” which penalizes all commemorations of Nakba Day. The Palestinians are not intimidated.
In the West Bank, Palestinians will begin marching from late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah. Warning sirens will sound in all Palestinian city centers, and then Palestinians will march towards the Qalandia checkpoint despite the possibility that clashes could erupt between the protesters and the Israeli army.
Many Palestinians believe that this year’s Nakba Day is bitterly painful as it also coincides with the Nakba of the Palestinian prisoners still in the Israeli jails.
Palestinian prisoner Thaer Halalah has been on hunger strike for 78 days now. His father told Al-Safir that “This year, Nakba Day marks two tragedies in my life: the tragedy of my people and the tragedy of my son, whom I feel will die soon. Yet, no one cares. This is our fate. We are doomed to live in the Nakba for the rest of our lives. We and our children will pay the price, just as our ancestors did before us.”