RAMALLAH – Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets here on Sunday to
participate in a rally marking the 63rd anniversary of the “Nakba” – the day
Israel was created.
The demonstrators made an oath to continue the
struggle to ensure the return of the refugees to their homes and vowed to make
sacrifices to achieve their goal.
Police break up violent demo near Lebanese border
Hundreds hold first-ever Nakba Day march in Jaffa
The demonstrators chanted slogans
calling for the “right of return” for all Palestinian refugees to their original
homes inside Israel. They also unfurled black flags carrying the words, “There
is no alternative to the right of return.”
The demonstrators also voiced
support for the recent Hamas-Fatah reconciliation pact and urged the two parties
to work together to achieve Palestinian rights.
The rally was one of
several held in the West Bank under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority,
whose leaders called on Palestinians to commemorate “Nakba Day” by staging
marches and protests.
“We want to go back to our villages,” said Abed Abu
Karma, a 76-year-old resident of Jelazoun refugee camp north of Ramallah. “My
village is near the [Ben-Gurion] Airport and we still have the documents proving
that we have lands there.”
Mohammed Elayan, coordinator of the Higher
National Committee for Commemorating Nakba Day, expressed deep satisfaction with
the large turnout for the Sunday’s events in the West Bank and the Gaza
“The Zionist conspiracies aimed at foiling today’s rallies have
failed,” Elayan declared at the rally. “Israel won’t succeed in preventing our
people from achieving the right of return.”
Amjad Abu Ayyash, another
elderly man, showed up brandishing an old door key.
He said that the key
was from the family house in Jaffa before 1948.
“We have no doubt that we
will one day go back to Jaffa,” he said. “And if we don’t go back, our children
will. It will happen one day.”
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu
Yusef said that the “Nakba Day” rallies were proof that the Palestinians
continue to adhere to the “right of return.”
The refugees’ “right to
return is sacred and it won’t go away with the progression of time,” he said. He
too accused Israel of seeking to thwart the Palestinians’ celebrations on “Nakba
At the same time that the rally was taking place, scores of
Palestinians attacked IDF soldiers at the Kalandiya border crossing between
Ramallah and Jerusalem with stones and gasoline bombs.
In the Gaza Strip,
one Palestinian was killed and at least 80 others were wounded when thousands of
Palestinians marched toward IDF troops at the Nahal Oz and Erez border
crossings, sources in Gaza City said.
The sources said that the
protesters marched through checkpoints set up by Hamas policemen, who were
unable to stop them.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech
marking “Nakba Day” that the Palestinians would never give up the “right of
Haniyeh said that there were now “changes” that would “lead to
the collapse of the Zionist project in Palestine and victory for the program of
the nation” – a reference to anti-government protests sweeping the Arab
He said that the “revolutions” in the Arab world would have a
positive impact on the Palestinians and a negative effect on the “Zionist
entity.” He also urged the Arabs and Muslims to provide the Palestinians with
financial and military aid.
The Hamas leader reiterated his movement’s
opposition to recognizing Israel’s right to exist in spite of the reconciliation
agreement with Fatah.
“Victory is coming and so is the state,” he
declared. “The refugees will return and occupation will end.”