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The 1948 Palestinian exodus

The 1948 Palestinian exodus, also known as the Nakba (Arabic: النكبة‎, “al-Nakbah”, lit. “disaster”, “catastrophe”, or “cataclysm”),[1] occurred when more than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes, during the 1948 Palestine war.[2] The term “nakba” also refers to the period of war itself and events affecting Palestinians from December 1947 to January 1949.

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Palestinian refugees (British Mandate of Palestine – 1948). “Making their way from Galilee in October-November 1948”.

The very precise number of refugees is a matter of dispute[3] but around 80 percent of the Arab inhabitants of what became Israel (50 percent of the Arab total of Mandatory Palestine) left or were expelled from their homes.[4][5]

The causes are also a subject of fundamental disagreement between Arabs and Israelis. Factors involved in the exodus include Jewish military advances, attacks against Arab villages and fears of another massacre by Zionist militias after the Deir Yassin massacre,[6]:239–240 which caused many to leave out of panic; Arab evacuation orders; expulsion orders by Israeli authorities; the voluntary self-removal of the wealthier classes,[7] the collapse in Palestinian leadership,[8] and an unwillingness to live under Jewish control.[9]

Later, a series of laws passed by the first Israeli government prevented them from returning to their homes, or claiming their property. They and many of their descendants remain refugees.[10][11] The expulsion of the Palestinians has since been described by some historians as ethnic cleansing,[12][13][14] while others dispute this charge.[15][16][17]

The status of the refugees, and in particular whether Israel will grant them their claimed right to return to their homes or be compensated, are key issues in the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The events of 1948 are commemorated by Palestinians both in the Palestinian territories as well as elsewhere on 15 May, a date now known as Nakba Day.

The history of the Palestinian exodus is closely tied to the events of the war in Palestine, which lasted from 1947 to 1949, and to the political events preceding it. In September 1949, the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine estimated 711,000 Palestinian refugees existed outside Israel,[18] with about one-quarter of the estimated 160,000 Palestinian Arabs remaining in Israel as “internal refugees.”

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Nakba 1948 Palestine – Jaramana Refugee Camp, Damascus, Syria

Nakba Day (Arabic: يوم النكبة Yawm an-Nakba, meaning “Day of the Catastrophe”) is generally commemorated on 15 May, the day after the Gregorian calendar date for Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut). For the Palestinians it is an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.[1]

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