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Palestinians mark Nakba day under Israeli fire

DW, 15 May 2021
The death toll continues to rise in the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants. An overnight Israeli air strike killed at least ten Palestinians in the deadliest single bombing so far. Israeli tanks have recently resumed firing on targets in Gaza City. This comes in response to hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas toward Israel last night, hitting residential areas. At least 126 people have been killed in Gaza since Monday, while in Israel at least seven have died. The conflict has now also spread to the West Bank, the larger Palestinian territory.
All throughout the day and into the night, explosions reverberated through Gaza City as Israel intensified its onslaught against Hamas. As the conflict escalates, hour by hour, Gazans are fleeing their homes with whatever they can carry. Some have come to schools run by the UN in search of a safe place.
And many Israelis, too, are living in fear. Just north of Gaza, the city of Ashkelon has been hit repeatedly by Hamas rockets.
Gaza is not Israel's only front in an intensifying conflict. In the West Bank, tensions hit new highs as Palestinians exchanged rocks and gunfire and with Israeli soldiers. For the first time this week, Palestinians died in numbers on the streets of the territory.
The United States has sent a diplomat to try and broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But as flames and fighting spread across the Holy Land, peace seems like a distant prospect.
As this latest conflict rages, Palestinians are marking an older one. Today is Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs during the first Arab-Israeli war, which began on this day in 1948. Each year sees protests around the globe calling for the recognition of Palestinian nationhood.
When Britain officially withdrew from Palestine in May 1948, Jewish leaders announced the creation of a new state, to be known as Israel.
To many Palestinians though, the day is known as Nakba, also called 'the Palestinian catastrophe.'
What followed was a bloody conflict between Arab states and Israel, and for Palestinians a memory of displacement never forgotten. For them, Nakba, is a day rooted in historical tragedy.
But it's symbolism is still felt strongly today, with the fight for statehood still ongoing. Many Palestinians hope that by continuing to assert their culture, it will keep the collective sense of nationhood alive and potentially undo the Nakba.
The day is normally marked with demonstrations, not just in the Palestinian territories, but all over the world. At times, the events have turned into confrontations with Israeli security forces.
The recent unrest, sparked by the potential eviction of Palestinians from their homes by Israeli authorities, will add further fuel to the fire of those commemorating this day.
And in Germany, a vigil against antisemitism was held in Gelsenkirchen. Earlier this week demonstrators shouted anti-Jewish slogans outside the city's synagogue. But on Friday, supporters rallied in solidarity with Jewish communities. Police estimate around 300 people took part. A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will not tolerate antisemitic protests – while peaceful protests against Israel's policies were allowed. Some of those took place in other German cities such as Berlin.


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