Demonstrations across Palestinian cities and towns to commemorate the Nakba have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic this year.
Instead, Palestinian activists took to social media to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba, or Day of Catastrophe.
May 15 marks the day hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries, which ushered in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
More than a third of the Palestinian population, totaling around 800,000 people, became refugees. Today their descendants number in the millions, including six million in the diaspora.
Last year, Israeli troops wounded at least 47 Palestinians during the Nakba demonstrations.
— Friends of Palestine (@F_Of_PAL) May 12, 2020
In the occupied West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas authorized digital activities to mark the anniversary.
On Thursday, activists launched an Arabic hashtag which translated into “Palestine as a whole” to affirm the Palestinian right of return as well as drawing awareness to the Israeli occupation’s attempt to undermine the Palestinian cause, including the latest plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
“For the 72nd Nakba anniversary, we will not accept a reality where Palestine is occupied by even one inch,” Dawoud Abu Dalfa, a Palestinian journalist, said on Twitter.
A pandemic is keeping them at home, but Palestinians are using digital tools to mark the 72nd anniversary of the Nakba, Israel's ethnic cleansing: Virtual reality to see Palestine today, and online maps to view Palestine as it was before their displacement https://t.co/ELcEO3oLpP pic.twitter.com/96NhoQWCU1
— IMEU (@theIMEU) May 15, 2020
Other online and digital initiatives to commemorate the Nakba includes the free app Palestine VR, which aims in part to connect millions of diaspora Palestinians with their forefathers’ towns and villages, some of which now lie abandoned in Israel.
“Coming to Palestine is transformational, especially for Palestinians who aren’t allowed to visit,” said Ramallah-based Palestine VR founder Salem Barahmeh, 30, as he guided Zoom participants through the app’s 47 virtual tours of Gaza, Jerusalem, and the occupied West Bank.
“Many more families from Qatamon are moving away, and they are not to blame. Who likes to be buried alive under debris?!” wrote Hala Sakakini in her journal, April 1948. See what happened to Qatamon: https://t.co/g4OOuuATu5 #PalestineToday #Nakba2020 @visualizingpal pic.twitter.com/qGpWBNi98S
— 7amleh حملة (@7amleh) May 15, 2020
“What Israel must understand is that the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees is not just a political or even legal right to challenge the ever-unfair status quo,” wrote Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.
“It has long surpassed that. For the refugees, Palestine is so much more than a piece of earth; it is a perpetual fight for justice – in the name of those who died along the dusty trails of exile and those who are yet to be born,” Baroud added.
(Palestine Chronicle, AJE, Social Media)