"Nakba Day," or "Day of Catastrophe," is observed annually by Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs to commemorate the events following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Nakba Day is marked on May 15, the day following the Gregorian calendar date for Israel's independence. Israel celebrates its independence according to the Hebrew calendar date. According to the Palestinian narrative, approximately 700,000 Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes during the 1948 Israeli War of Independence.
During recent years, Nakba Day has witnessed increasingly violent protests and clashes with IDF forces in the West Bank. In 2011, Syrian protesters attempted to forcibly cross the border with Israel into the Golan Heights.In 2011, the Knesset passed a law requiring the state to fine local authorities and other state-funded bodies for holding events marking Israeli Independence Day as the “Nakba” or for supporting armed resistance or racism against Israel. It also bans desecration of the state flag or national symbols.
Palestinians clash with IDF during Nakba Day protests, 15.5.17 (credit: REUTERS)
A Palestinian man holds a symbolic key next to Hamas militants during a rally after Nakba Day in Rafah, 2016 (REUTERS)
Palestinians re-enact a scene from the 1948 Nakba during a rally marking the 68th anniversary of the Nakba in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 15, 2016. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Israeli soldiers run during clashes with Palestinian protesters at a protest marking the 66th anniversary of Nakba, in the West Bank village of El Walaja near Bethlehem May 15, 2014 (REUTERS)