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Palestinians mark 76th "Nakba," as the raging Israel-Hamas war leaves them to suffer a brand new catastrophe

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Ramallah, West Bank — For Palestinians, Wednesday marks the "Nakba." The word means catastrophe, and the date marks the mass displacement in 1948 of more than 700,000 Palestinians upon the formation of the modern state of Israel.

It has been 76 years since that happened, but this year, Palestinians are also commemorating what some are calling a second Nakba — the current war in the Gaza Strip, which has been perhaps the most horrific and the bloodiest chapter in the history of the Palestinian people.

Since Gaza's Hamas rulers sparked the war with their Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on Israel, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's retaliatory offensive in the territory, according to its health ministry. The United Nations estimates that at least 1.7 million people — more than half of Gaza's population — have been displaced from their homes since the war started.

Palestinians flee Rafah ahead of Israeli operation 02:19

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been adamant since Oct. 7 that the only way to respond to Hamas' slaughter of some 1,200 people is to destroy the group, and he's vowed to carry out a ground offensive in Rafah, the last Gazan city so far spared an all-out assault.

Israel says there are four Hamas battalions still there, but there are also hundreds of thousands of civilians who sought refuge in the southern city over seven months of war, and the U.S. and other Israeli allies have warned against a full-scale ground invasion.

Much of the rest of Gaza has already been left in ruins by Israel's overwhelming firepower — much of it supplied by the U.S., and with much more said to be on the way soon.

Palestinian boy Mohammed Imad, who was wounded in Israeli fire, is looked after by his mother as he lies on a bed at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip
Palestinian Mohammed Imad, wounded by Israeli fire, is looked after by his mother as he lies on a bed at Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, May 14, 2024. Ramadan Abed/REUTERS

For the Palestinian people, it's already been a crisis on a scale far greater than the violence and displacement of 76 years ago, and with the prospect of a Rafah incursion looming, thousands have fled in fear for their lives all over again.

On Tuesday, Israelis marked their Independence Day. Normally a time of celebration, this year's commemorations were largely somber, as Israelis continue to call on their leaders to reach a deal to free the roughly 100 hostages still believed to be alive and held by Hamas or other groups in Gaza.

CBS News' Tucker Reals contributed to this report.

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