Nakba - (Arabic - meaning "catastrophe"
or "disaster") -
1. The defeat of the Arab armies in the 1948 Arab-Israel war and 2.
flight and expulsion of the Palestinian Arab refugees in 1948, or both together.
Arab countries and the Arabs of Palestine refused to accept United Nations General Assembly resolution 181,
which called for the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in the former British Mandate territory of Palestine.
Hostilities broke out inside Palestine on December 1, 1947. British authorities did little to stop them. Arab armies
invaded the state of Israel on May 15, 1948 in order to destroy the state, as some announced, or in order to protect the
Palestinian Arabs as others announced, or in order to "restore order" as the Egyptians announced. The Arab armies were
Authorities differ on whether the refugees were expelled or fled of their own volition. As many as half the refugees
(see Ruling Palestine, A History of the Legally Sanctioned Jewish-Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing in Palestine,
COHRE & BADIL, May 2005, p. 34 ) left prior to the declaration of the State of Israel. During this period, the British
were responsible for keeping order, and Zionist forces could not really exercise force to openly expel Arabs in most
cases. However, an attack by the dissident
LEHI on the village of Deir Yassin resulted in
the massacre of over 100 Palestinian Arabs, and Irgun bombings of Arab civilian targets helped to create panic. During
this period, there were also massacres of Jewish civilians, particularly in Gush Etzion, and Arab bombings of Jewish
civilian targets as well as an
Arab blockade of Jerusalem. Jews were expelled from Gush Etzion and from the old city of Jerusalem. At the conclusion of
hostilities, about 150,000 Arabs
remained in the territories that became the state of Israel. No Jews remained in Arab held territories - they had either
been expelled, or they fled in advance of the Arab takeover.
About 711,000 Palestinian Arabs remained homeless at the end of the conflict,
according to final UN figures, though Arab sources often claim a higher number, and Israeli sources claim the number was
lower. An approximately equal number of Jews were expelled from, or fled Arab and Muslim countries in the years
following the establishment of the state of Israel. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 of 1948 called for return
or compensation of refugees. However, this was never implemented. Israel enacted a law forbidding the return of Arab
refugees, and some Arab countries enacted laws to the same effect for Jewish refugees.
The Jewish refugees were absorbed in Israel, the United States and other
countries. The Arab refugees were given a special status under the care of UNRWA, created in 1949. This status does not
correspond to the rights and regulations pertaining to refugees from other conflicts. Several hundred thousand
Palestinian Arab refugees remain in camps maintained in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In Jordan and
the Palestinian areas however, the refugees are free to become citizens. Palestinian Arabs claim the "right of return" -
that is, the right to return to their homes or the homes of their ancestors in what is now
Israelis do not recognize this right, and note that it would void the Jewish right to self-determinations, which is Jus
Cogens under international law.
Synonyms and alternate spellings: Nakhba,
Further Information: At MideastWeb: Palestine Refugee Problem
Zionist point of view: Nakba
Arab Palestinian Point of view: Nakba