In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Nakba Palestinians and Syrians gathered at the Palestine Charity Organization center in Atma, a town near the Turkish border in liberated Idlib province. Nakba, meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic, refers to the expulsion of nearly 750,000 Palestinians and the theft of their homes and land in 1948 during the creation of the state of Israel.
The violent expulsion caused significant loss of life, wealth, and a homeland for Palestinians, who became refugees in their own country or were forced to flee to neighboring countries, and remains a defining moment in the history of the Middle East and a source of ongoing conflict and suffering until today.
The gathering had an educational exhibition documenting the trials and hardships experienced by the Palestinians over the last 75 years as well as several guest speakers covering varied topics. The displays allowed the attendees to see nearly a century of exile and tribulations, as well as those images documenting the events in Palestine. There were also sections that cataloged the oppression and abuse of Palestinians within Syria, such as the severe siege imposed by the Syrian regime forces and Iranian militias on the residents of Yarmouk camp where the residents were starved and bombarded until those who survived were forced to flee.
Speakers addressed the ongoing “right of return” of Palestinians to their homelands, the sacrifices and struggles of the past, and those still ahead in the face of the Israeli apartheid occupation while acknowledging the similarity of the experiences of Syrians today with their Palestinian brothers and sisters, who both have under a second Nakba at the hands of the Assad regime who, like the Zionists of the past, has expelled millions from their homes and stolen land and property.
Sheikh Abu Mustafa al-Shami, a participant in the event, told the press in attendance that, “There is no difference between a Palestinian and a Syrian, as our blood is mixed in the Yarmouk camp and in all the camps in the land of the Levant.”
The displacement of Palestinians continues to impact their lives and their descendants, who face ongoing challenges in accessing basic rights and resources. Palestinian and Syrian refugees share a deeply traumatic experience of forced displacement and expulsion, which has caused immeasurable loss, suffering, and upheaval.