Petroluem Demonstrations across Palestinian cities and towns to commemorate the Nakba have been cancelled 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.
Nakba Day: For Palestinians it is not just an historical event
Gangster geopolitics and Israel’s annexation plans
Palestinian towns ‘hemmed in’ by Israel’s discriminatory policies
More than a third of the Palestinian population, totalling around 750,000 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.
In the occupied West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas authorised 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.
“We only know a complete Palestine, and we have confidence and belief that the Israeli occupation will not last.”
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.
“We want to share Palestine with them, and help them feel and understand this place.”
Majd al-Shihabi, a Palestinian refugee born in Syria, is part of a team that developed Palestine Open Maps, an interactive database of Palestinian villages and Jewish towns as they stood in 1948.
“Palestinians anywhere can see visual details of their villages, reinforcing our understanding of what Palestine was like before the exodus,” al-Shihabi, 31, said from Beirut.