Nakba: Palestinian Refugees Tell Their Own Stories to the World

Palestinian children wrote the names of the villages and cities of their ancestors that were destroyed by Zionist forces in 1947-48. (Photo: via Social Media)

May 15, 1948, marks the day of the Nakba (‘the Catastrophe’) when over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by invading Zionist forces.

Seventy years on, more than 5.5 million refugees scattered all over the Middle East and the world are still waiting to exercise their internationally recognized right to return.

These are some of the stories Palestinian refugees shared by using several hashtags on social media: #OurNakba #Nakba2018 #Nakba70 #NeverForget #MyNakbaStory

Haj Abdul Qader al-Lahham, Beit Atab

Beit Atab was a Palestinian village in the subdistrict of Jerusalem.

After the military assault by Israeli forces in 1948, it was demolished and depopulated.

Its residents were forced to flee to the refugee camps in the West Bank.

Haj Abdul Qader al-Lahham, born in 1921, still holds the key to his house in his destroyed village of Beit Atab in the occupied Jerusalem district.#We_Will_back

Gepostet von Ahmed Sami am Montag, 14. Mai 2018

The massacre of Lydd

Al-Lydd was a Palestinian village in the district of Al-Ramla.

Soon after the city’s occupation, in 1948, the Jewish forces committed their biggest massacre in Palestine: 426 men, women and children were murdered. 176 of them were killed in Dahmash mosque.

Everyone in this picture survived the massacre of Lydd, 1948. Which was only recently uncovered. Hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children were brutally executed in a mosque while their neighbors were forced to watch, then told if they don’t leave their homes immediately their children will be next. In this picture is my grandfather (whom I never met because he died of a broken heart before I was born), my aunts: Suhad (the youngest of my aunts, also the one whom I was named after), In3am (who loved to play cards and would invite me over when I needed to decompress from my parents), Rajah (whom I met later in life because she’s in the US. I made more sense of myself when I met her, because i finally found out who I’m like the most in our family), Khalto Najat (who is arguably the kindest and most patient woman I’ve ever met) my uncle Ghaleb (who hosted me in his house when I was 7 and would drive me to school everyday), and that young man on the far right is my father, he was 5 years old on the day of the massacre and was shot in the hip, he’s in his late 70s now, but he still has the scar. This is #myNakbaStory @theimeu

A post shared by Suhad Khatib ( on

Samia Dokeh, Iqrit

Iqrit was a Palestinian Christian village, in the district of Acre, which was mostly destroyed in 1948, with the exception of the village church.

Its residents were forced to flee by Jewish troops: some of the refugees were moved to Lebanon, to al-Rashedyah refugee camp, and the rest were transferred to al-Rama, 20 km South.

Haj Abu Salem, Beersheba

Beersheba was founded by the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. This small, modern city was home to merchants from Gaza and Hebron, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Druze, Bedouin, and others.

It was conquered by Israel in October 1948 with the use of aerial bombardment and its residents were expelled.

“Ethnic Cleansing” in Al-Mujaydil

Al-Mujaydil was a Palestinian village, in the district of Nazareth. It was mostly destroyed with the exception of a church and a cemetery.

Al-Mujaydil is now called Migdal HaEmek, it was completely ethnically cleansed, and there are no Palestinian residents living there anymore.

This is my dad, circa 1962. When my father was 9 he fled his town (Al-Mujaydil) and his homeland, Palestine, during the Nakba. Like an estimated 20 percent of Palestinians who remained in Palestine post 1948, he was internally displaced, in an odd status called “present absentee”. As a present absentee my father and his family were barred (and remain barred) from returning to their homes and land inside 1948 Palestine (the borders of Israel). In my father’s case, he and his family were never able to return to al-Mujaydil even though it is a mere 3 km from Nazareth where my dad ended up living his youth. The town of al-Mujaydil is now called Migdal HaEmek with no Palestinians. All that remains is a church and a cemetery. My father’s home was demolished and his lands now the site of various factories and shopping malls. As with other internally displaced Palestinians, my father had to pass Migdal HaEmek to leave Nazareth to go to Haifa or other major towns, passing his land. I cannot imagine how my dad feels passing his hometown, knowing it was stolen from him. In one spot, in Migdal HaEmek is a sign in front of the olive trees that my father’s childhood friends tended to that reads “Park of the First Inhabitants, Established in 1951” as though my father, his friends and family did not exist. Like the other Palestinians who remained, my father lived under Israeli military rule from 1948-1966, barred from traveling throughout his country and to his very lands without Israeli permission. Seventy years later, my father is still not able to return to his hometown. Seventy years later the Nakba continues. What I love about this picture is despite having his world turned upside down, Israel has never and will never be able to remove that smile, that kindness or that generosity from my father. #MyPalestine #MyNakbaStory #Nakba70 @theimeu

A post shared by Diana Buttu (@dianabuttu) on

Fatima Samhan Hasan, Qula

Qula was a Palestinian village, in the district of Al-Ramla. On September 13, 1948, it was completely destroyed and only rubble was left behind.

This is my Sitti, Fatima Samhan Hasan. She was born in Qula, Al Lydd in 1916. She knew no English except "Bitch" which she was called by British colonizers as a child, and Israeli occupiers as an adult fleeing her massacred village with her infant children. My grandfather died not soon after exile, leaving her a sole breadwinner in a refugee camp. She became the camp's midwife. She could relate the genealogy of an entire generation of dispossessed. I was named after her. It was a heavy name to carry…a woman so strong, one who carried my father and uncle to safety and raised them up alone. By the time I met her in 1982, she had gone blind from glaucoma. I spoke to her a handful of times. She died sometime in 1996. Nobody told me until months after, when they started bickering over what to do with her possessions. #MyNakbaStory I didn't get to mourn the person whose's name and heritage I carry. The #Nakba had left us fractured. We cling to artifacts to prove our existence–to others, to ourselves. I have this one picture, and when I see it, I feel her kind sightless eyes, her gentle grin, her soft hands touching the side of my face. @theimeu #Palestine #PalestinianNakba #1948 #RightofReturn

A post shared by Vickie Mansour-Hasan (@vickiemansourhasan) on

Awad Salameh, Sataf

Sataf was a Palestinian village, in the district of Jerusalem.

The village was mostly destroyed with the exception of one single house.

(PC, Social Media)

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out