With much determination, Palestinians have commemorated the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, the expulsion by the nascent Israeli state of more than 750,000 men, women and children who were driven from their homes into exile. The ethnic cleansing continues to this day.
Refugees in the Gaza Strip started the Nakba activities by ringing alarm bells in schools and flying balloons in the colours of the Palestinian flag from which were hung pictures of their grandparents' birthplaces inside what is now called Israel. In the West Bank, Palestinians stood for a 65-second silence and took part in commemorative marches. Groups of Palestinian actors and artists performed scenes replicating the Nakba, while a number of elderly refugees took to the streets holding the big keys of their old houses and ownership certificates for their land.
All Palestinian refugees took the opportunity to reaffirm their right to return to their homes and land, and expressed their rejection of all agreements which concede that right.
There are Palestinian refugees spread all over the world. Most, however, are concentrated in 65 official UN refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria as well as numerous unofficial "gatherings". The camps are overcrowded and have been likened to concentration camps. Usually built on around one square kilometre of land, they have not grown outwards to deal with the increase in population; they have grown upwards, often resulting in very dangerous housing conditions. Al-Shatii Camp in Gaza City, for example, is home to more than 85,000 refugees. Official regulations in the host countries are cited as the reason for the lack of permission to extend the size of the camps.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad