Today - 15 May 2020 - Palestinians all over the world, commemorate The Nakba, The Catastrophe. It is the day when the Israeli State was established, without any declared borders and Palestinians were dispossessed.
The human cost of this plan was, and still is, very high. More than 200,000 Palestinians were dispossessed of their properties between 1947 and 1948 and in 1948 a further 55,000-600,000. Over 400 Palestinian villages were completely depopulated or destroyed and 800,000 Palestinians became refugees.
When we visit refugee camps in the West Bank we meet fourth generation refugees, young people, who will tell us which villages their families are from. In their homes many have a tin in which they keep a large, precious key, the one that opened the door of the house that was left in 1948. They are not allowed to visit those homes or their land. They have no right of return and have never received any compensation for all that they have lost.
Our visits show us that the Nakba is on-going, the loss of land, house demolitions, the detentions without trial, the imprisonment and torture of children, the daily Israeli military and settler attacks on villages and family homes has increased drastically, even in the last few months. Israel's Separation Barriers imprison communities in large sections of the West Bank and hundreds of checkpoints deny them access to hospitals, schools and universities, to worship and to visit their families. These are all experiences which we will recognise from the last six weeks. For Palestinians, this has been their experience for 72 years!
The call from Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers is for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza. Nora Carmi from Jerusalem, a Pax Christi International Board Member, says: "Will the international world continue to keep silent or will it take action to end our on-going Nakba?"
Zoughbi Zoughbi, Director of Wi'am Conflict Transformation Centre in Bethlehem says: "Our message to the world is, enough is enough. As much as we believe in life after death, we want to live our life before death, echoing what Jesus said, 'I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.' We want to celebrate life with you all. Please don't let us down."
At around sunset tonight, Pax Christi members and friends will be spending time in prayer, in solidarity with the people of Palestine as they remember the Nakba, the forced exodus from their homes beginning in 1948. The prayer time will be online.
You may like to light a candle with us. Email Pax Christi for the Zoom link: [email protected]
EAPPI appeal for action
Ecumenical appeal for action to help prevent imminent annexation of Palestine: www.indcatholicnews.com/news/39535
Ann Farr is a Pax Christi Executive Member and a Member of the Pax Christi International Israel/Palestine Working Group.
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