Thousands rally in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon for 'Nakba Day'
LAST UPDATED: 05/15/2011 03:26
Marches planned for Sunday in Gaza and along Israel’s northern and eastern borders.
Nakba day protesters in Egypt's Tahrir Square Photo: Reuters
Thousands rallied Friday in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon ahead of “Nakba Day,” an
annual day of mourning to commemorate Israel’s creation 63 years ago. Marches
were held in the Jordanian capital and in the Jordan Valley, Egyptians protested
outside Israel’s diplomatic offices in Cairo and Alexandria and Palestinian
refugees demonstrated in Lebanon’s capital Beirut.
Five hundred people,
many of Palestinian origin, marched in Amman demanding Palestinian sovereignty
and the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to
territory that is now in Israel, the Associated Press reported. Some of the
protesters brandished keys they said once opened doors to homes left behind in
what is now Israel.
Skepticism in east Jerusalem ahead of Nakba Day
Hundreds hold first-ever Nakba Day march in Jaffa
Some 5,000 protesters gathered north of the Allenby
Bridge border crossing, with similar protests planned for Sunday, Israel Radio
Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper reported organizers expected
50,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to march Sunday towards the villages of
Bint Jbail and Maroun al-Ras on the Israeli border. The Israel Defense Forces
has bolstered its troop presence along the northern border in anticipation of
In Egypt, thousands rallied in Cairo in a Facebook-organized
campaign aimed at marching all the way to Gaza.
“Egypt is Palestine. All
Arab nations are Egypt,” a 20-year-old law student told the AP.
protest is not about forming an army and heading to Gaza. It is about pressuring
our officials to support the Palestinians’ demands.”
In Egypt’s second
city, Alexandria, thousands marched to the Israeli consulate after dawn prayers
at one of the main mosques while chanting, “With our souls, with our blood, we
redeem you, Palestine.”
“We are here today to show our support for the
Palestinian cause,” said Muhammad Abdel-Salam, a 22-year-old activist on
“The victory of our revolution will not be complete without the
liberation of Palestine,” he said.
Demonstrators said they hope their
military rulers do more to help Palestinians following the overthrow of the
country’s president Hosni Mubarak. Many Egyptians felt Mubarak, a US ally, was
too soft on Israel and want their new government to take a much stronger
The gatherings in Cairo, Alexandria and El-Arish
come amidst preparations by activists to organize a march to the Gaza Strip on
Egyptian authorities have banned the march, saying the timing was
inappropriate given ongoing interfaith tensions in Egypt.
deployed army and police forces to prevent demonstrators from crossing the Suez
Canal to Sinai, the route they would have to take to reach the Gaza Strip,
“We are demonstrating to show that the Palestinian cause
is in the heart of all Muslims,” said Sameh Abu Bakr, an agriculture engineer,
in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which was decked with red, white, black and green
The square was at the epicenter of the February
uprising that drove Mubarak from power.
One sign read: “The people want
the opening of the Rafah crossing – fully and for good.”
Egypt has said
it plans to open the crossing into Gaza permanently, but has yet to do so.
Mubarak was accused of participating in an Israeli blockade on Gaza by shutting
“We want to show the world the inhumane way Israel treats
Palestinians,” said demonstrator Hassan Yusri, standing next to the Rafah
Hundreds also marched in the Sinai resort town of El- Arish after
Friday prayers, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans.
Egypt’s official MENA
news agency quoted Mustafa Reda Amin, the secretary-general of a youth alliance
that helped oust Mubarak, saying organizers contracted 20 buses to take
demonstrators to Sinai.
One Egyptian security source said the authorities
had decided to restrict entry to Sinai to commercial trucks and residents of the
Sinai Peninsula and stepped up security on all access points to
“We want to prevent large numbers of people from entering Sinai
for the day of the Great March,” one source said.
Egypt in 1979 became
the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel. The interim military
council now running the country has pledged to honor the peace
Reuters contributed to this report.