Palestinians mark Nakba against backdrop of fighting and devastation

Credit: AP

Palestinians are marking 76 years of dispossession, commemorating Nakba against the backdrop of violence and devestation in Gaza, where more than half a million of people have been displaced in recent days by fighting.

The Nakba, Arabic for “catastrophe,” refers to the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were driven out of what today is Israel before and during the war surrounding its creation in 1948.

Today, Israel has been pressing its military operations in Rafah, a city along Gaza's southern border with Egypt, and in northern Gaza.

Around 450,000 Palestinians have been driven out of Rafah over the past week, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said. An estimated 80% of Gaza's population of 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes since the start of the war, with many relocating multiple times.

“We lived through the Nakba not just once, but several times," said Umm Shadi Sheikh Khalil, who was displaced from Gaza City and now lives in a tent in the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah.

No food has entered the two main border crossings in southern Gaza for the past week. Some 1.1 million Palestinians are on the brink of starvation, according to the UN, while a “full-blown famine” is taking place in the north of the territory, the agency said.

Israel has portrayed Rafah as the last Hamas stronghold, brushing off warnings from the United States and other allies that any major operation there would be catastrophic for civilians.

Despite pausing a previous shipment of arms, the US is planning to send more than $1 billion (£800m) in additional arms and ammunition to Israel. The potential shipment would include about $700 million for tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and $60 million in mortar rounds, anonymous sources told US media.

Seven months of the war have killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to local health officials.

The war began on October 7 when Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people there, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 hostage. Israel says militants still hold around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

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