A Rarely Seen Photo Archive Tells The Story Of The Palestinian Exodus By Sheera Frenkel

Gail —  May 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

Palestinians mark the “Nakba” or “catastrophe” – the name they use for their uprooting during the war over Israel’s creation in 1948. In honor of the day, the UN has digitized more than 525,000 photos, most of which have never been seen before. posted on

The photos show a history of the Palestinian’s transition into life as one of the world’s most entrenched refugee populations. In this 1971 photo, Palestinian refugees pose for pictures in a newly built refugee camp in Eastern Jordan.

AP Photo/G.Nehmeh, UNRWA Photo Archives

Vast tent camps, like this one in Lebanon from 1952, were established as emergency measures to shelter Palestinian refugees. Today, many still stand as crowded, cement-block neighborhoods.

Vast tent camps, like this one in Lebanon from 1952, were established as emergency measures to shelter Palestinian refugees. Today, many still stand as crowded, cement-block neighborhoods.

AP Photo/S.Madver, UNRWA Photo Archives

In this 1968 photo, a Palestinian woman arrives at a Jordanian refugee camp as part of the exodus of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza following the 1967 war. Many thought they were only seeking temporary shelter at the time.

In this 1968 photo, a Palestinian woman arrives at a Jordanian refugee camp as part of the exodus of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza following the 1967 war. Many thought they were only seeking temporary shelter at the time.

AP Photo/G.Nehmeh, UNRWA Photo Archives

This 1967 photo shows Palestinians fleeing the river Jordan on the remnants of the Allenby bridge. Many carry only what they can hold in their hands or on their backs.

This 1967 photo shows Palestinians fleeing the river Jordan on the remnants of the Allenby bridge. Many carry only what they can hold in their hands or on their backs.

AP Photo/UNRWA Photo Archives

“We didn’t realize then, that we would never see our homes again,” said Fatima Husseini, who fled her home near Jerusalem in 1968 when she was only 11 years old. She still lives in Jordan with her four sons.

"We didn't realize then, that we would never see our homes again," said Fatima Husseini, who fled her home near Jerusalem in 1968 when she was only 11 years old. She still lives in Jordan with her four sons.

AP Photo/UNRWA Photo Archives

Many were unprepared for life outside of their traditional homes. In this 1975 photo, Fathiyeh Sattari, a worried Palestinian mother, talks to a doctor about her underweight child, at a Rafah health clinic.

Many were unprepared for life outside of their traditional homes. In this 1975 photo, Fathiyeh Sattari, a worried Palestinian mother, talks to a doctor about her underweight child, at a Rafah health clinic.

AP Photo/G.Nehmeh, UNRWA Photo Archives

Today Sattari, 62, and her family still live in the Rafah Refugee Camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Her son, Hassan, holds the photo of himself with his mother. They say they have little hope of ever going back to their ancestral home.

Today Sattari, 62, and her family still live in the Rafah Refugee Camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Her son, Hassan, holds the photo of himself with his mother. They say they have little hope of ever going back to their ancestral home.

AP Photo/Adel Hana

The family recently told AP that they would not mark the Nakba this Thursday. “Without confrontation, we can’t go back,” said Hassan, adding that he himself was focused on his son’s education.

The family recently told AP that they would not mark the Nakba this Thursday. "Without confrontation, we can't go back," said Hassan, adding that he himself was focused on his son's education.

AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

This year, Palestinians will mark the Nakba as the most recent efforts to reach a peace deal between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership end in failure. The two sides are currently exchanging blame over who torpedoed the talks.

This year, Palestinians will mark the Nakba as the most recent efforts to reach a peace deal between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership end in failure. The two sides are currently exchanging blame over who torpedoed the talks.

SAID KHATIB/AFP / Getty Images

While many issues remain on the table, few are as contentious as what will happen to millions of Palestinian refugees and their right of return. Palestinian murals, like this one, still portray a mass return of refugees as the ultimate goal.

While many issues remain on the table, few are as contentious as what will happen to millions of Palestinian refugees and their right of return. Palestinian murals, like this one, still portray a mass return of refugees as the ultimate goal.

AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon

Israel is staunchly opposed to a mass return. According to UN figures, 700,000 Palestinians fled during the 1948 war, and tens of thousands more fled following the 1967 war. Today, some 1.5 million refugees remain in the region’s 58 refugee camps.

Israel is staunchly opposed to a mass return. According to UN figures, 700,000 Palestinians fled during the 1948 war, and tens of thousands more fled following the 1967 war. Today, some 1.5 million refugees remain in the region's 58 refugee camps.

AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon

U.N. agencies still deliver aid daily to hundreds of thousands of refugees in the camps. “What perpetuates the refugee problem is the failure of the political parties to solve it,” said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N.

U.N. agencies still deliver aid daily to hundreds of thousands of refugees in the camps. "What perpetuates the refugee problem is the failure of the political parties to solve it," said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N.

AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon

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