Al-Nakba

May 15, 1948, is known worldwide as day the state of Israel was created. But that date is commemorated by the Palestinians as the beginning of al-Nakba, or “the Catastrophe,” the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland.

Actually, the process of forcing Palestinians out of their homes and into exile began after the United Nations partitioned Palestine in November 1947. From that time, until an armistice was signed on Jan. 1, 1949, Jewish militias and terrorist groups killed 13,000 Palestinian, forced 750,000 – more than half the Palestinian population -- into exile and permanent refugee status, and depopulated and/or destroyed more than 500 villages. The Nakba continues today as a result of Israeli occupation policies that are intent on forcing Palestinians to leave Palestine.

Al-Nakba facts and timeline

Posted in Al-Nakba

The Nakba did not occur in a vacuum. In fact, calls for a national homeland for the Jews began in the late 1800s, with the rise of political Zionism. Here is a timeline leading up to the Nakba.
  • Late 1800s - Political and ideological Zionism movement was founded in Eastern and Central Europe.
  • Early 1900s – Britain offers Zionists the country of Uganda on the African continent as a Jewish homeland.
  • Nov. 2, 1917 – Britain issued the Balfour Declaration, calling for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.
  • 1917 – At the time of the Balfour Declaration, 600,000 Palestinians and 55,000 Jews lived in Palestine.
  • 1918 – Britain occupies Palestine after the end of World War I.
  • 1920 – The British Mandate of Palestine, created by the League of Nations, begins.
  • Sept. 22, 1947 – U.S. State Dept. and the U.S. Foreign Service is against the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, saying the solution was “not workable and would lead to untold troubles in the future. A State Dept. memo, dated Sept. 22, 1947 stated: “We are under no obligations to the Jews to set up a Jewish state. The Balfour Declaration and the [British] Mandate provided not for a Jewish state, but for a national Jewish home. Neither the United States nor the British government has ever interpreted the term ‘Jewish  national home’ to be a Jewish national state.” 1 (Donald Neff, Fifty Years of Israel).
  • Nov. 29, 1947 – United Nations approves a Palestine partition plan.
  • March 19, 1948 – U.S. President Harry Truman denounced the partition.
  • April 9, 1948 – Members of two Jewish terrorist groups – the Irgun and the Stern Gang – conduct the massacre of the small village of Deir Yassin. Those who weren’t killed were transported to other areas.
  • Yitzak Rabin and Menachem Begin – leaders of the Irgun and Stern Gang during the massacre - go on to become Israeli prime ministers.
  • May 14, 1948 – Pressured to win Jewish support in the upcoming election, Truman recognized Israel as an independent nation.
  • May 15, 1948 – The British Mandate ends; Britian leaves Palestine; Israel becomes a sovereign nation.
  • January 1949 – An armistice agreement to end the civil war is signed. More than 750,000 Palestinians are forced from their homes and 531 villages have been depopulated.
  • Palestinian refugees are the largest group of refugees in the world. In fact, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), about 40 percent of the world’s refugees are Palestinians. Despite the International Declaration of Human Rights and UN Resolution 192 – which gives Palestinians displaced in 1948 and also in the 1967 Six Day War - the right to return to Palestine and to receive compensation for their losses, Israel continues to deny Palestinians from returning home.


~ American Muslims for Palestine, May 2009