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Jordan: Meeting the Palestinians of Zarqa, three generations after the ‘Nakba’

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The Jordanian city of Zarqa has a strong Palestinian identity, with good reason. In 1948, with the creation of the State of Israel – what the Palestinians call the “Nakba” (“catastrophe”) – some 750,000 people, or more than 80 percent of the Palestinian population, were forced to take exile in neighbouring countries as they fled the violence. Jordan took in around 100,000 of them, with many of these refugees settling in Zarqa, a desert area on the outskirts of the capital Amman. Seventy-five years after their exile, what relationship do they have with their homeland and with their host country of Jordan?

In 1948, when thousands of Palestinians settled in Zarqa, on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan’s first refugee camp came into being. Over the years, buildings have replaced tents, while families have grown larger.

Jordan has succeeding in integrating Palestinian refugees into society and has offered the vast majority of them citizenship – an exception in the region. Palestinians now make up more than half the population and are considered the driving force behind the kingdom’s economy. They are also represented up to the highest echelons of the state by King Abdullah II’s wife Queen Rania, who is of Palestinian origin.

Three generations after the “Nakba” (“catastrophe”) that the creation of Israel represents for the Palestinians, our reporters went to meet the Palestinians of Zarqa. Seventy-five years after their exile, we looked at their relationship with their homeland. Whether they are integrated into Jordanian society or still stateless, all of them are deeply affected by the deadly conflict that has devastated the Gaza Strip since the Hamas attacks of October 7, 2023.

[Editor’s note: Part of this report was filmed before October 7, 2023.]

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