The days of mourning have begun for a city that lost nearly half its residents in the Holocaust.
On Thursday, Tel Aviv residents awoke to find their streets deserted, the city completely gutted by a devastating winter storm.
The city’s most iconic building was destroyed, and hundreds of residents were forced to flee, with the last batch of people remaining trapped in the city’s main bus station.
On Friday morning, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, declared Tel Aviv’s status as a “no-go zone” for Israeli civilians to evacuate.
In the days following, thousands of Israeli citizens had to make their way across the Israeli-Egyptian border to escape the flooding and mudslides that had swept across the city.
While Tel Aviv was devastated, the loss of so many lives was felt much more acutely in the capital city of Jerusalem, where more than 20,000 residents lost their lives during the summer of 1948.
More than 1.7 million Palestinians were displaced by the war, while more than 500,000 Israeli Arabs and Jews died in the conflict.
The Palestinian people suffered at the hands of the Jewish state, and this was an historic day for them, said Ibrahim Quraishi, a senior adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Central Committee.
I think we will all come to a sense of closure, and we will be able to go to our graves and we can remember all the lives lost, he told Al Jazeera.
Quraishi said that his group is not calling for a new intifada, but for a gradual resolution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
In the past, the movement to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has been a rallying cry for Palestinians, but it is now time for the movement that was founded in 2008, Quraish said.
“We have been waiting for this moment for so long, and now we are finally able to have our voices heard,” Quraisha said.