Palestinians on Wednesday marked the 65th anniversary of Nakba Day, the
“catastrophe” of the founding of the State of Israel, with demonstrations and
rallies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Clashes between Palestinian
stone-throwers and IDF soldiers erupted in Kalandiya, south of Ramallah, Hebron
Israel Police said 25 Palestinians were arrested during
clashes that took place over the course of the day in and around
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that during a midday
protest at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, Palestinian rioters threw rocks and
bottles at security forces, lightly wounding six Border policemen and police
officers, three of whom had to be taken to hospitals in Jerusalem for
Police dispersed the riot using stun grenades, water cannons
and mounted police, he added.
Rosenfeld said that later in the afternoon,
a group of Palestinians began attacking Jews in the Old City, pushing and
hitting them as they made their way to the Western Wall for Shavuot prayers.
Police made six arrests during that incident, Rosenfeld said.
off for 65 seconds in a number of Palestinian cities in the West Bank, where
tens of thousands of Palestinians carried Palestinian and black flags as well as
keys symbolizing their right of return. Speakers at various rallies emphasized
the Palestinians’ right to return to their former villages and towns inside
“Sixty-five years after the Nakba, we affirm that we remain
committed to the right of return in accordance with United Nations Resolution
194,” said Nablus Governor Jibrin al-Bakri in a speech on behalf of Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Bakri said the Palestinian leadership
remains opposed to resuming peace talks with Israel as long as Israel continues
to build in the settlements.
“The right of return is a sacred right and
we can’t give it up,” he told a major rally in Nablus.
In a televised
speech marking Nakba Day, Abbas said that the Palestinians would not agree to
any solution that does not guarantee them their right to a sovereign state on
all the lands captured by Israel in 1967.
“We have scored victory against
those who tried to bury our identity and deny our rights,” Abbas said. “We have
made huge sacrifices – thousands of martyrs and tens of thousands of
wounded. Today there is no country in the world, including the US, that
denies our legitimate right to an independent state on the territories occupied
Abbas said that negotiations with Israel should be on the basis
of the pre-1967 lines. He also reiterated his demand for the release of
Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, especially those who were imprisoned
before the signing of the Oslo Accords nearly two decades ago.
will be no peace without the return of our prisoners to their families,” he
MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu) said that Nakba Day comments
made by the Palestinian leadership showed that they did not want
“Marking the day Israel was established as a day of mourning,
together with the Palestinian riots and attacks on IDF soldiers proves to us and
the international community, year after year, that the Palestinians do not want
peace,” Ilatov said.
The rioting shows the Palestinians’ true face and
their inability to accept the existence of Israel as the sole state of the
Jewish people, he said.
“These actions are the result of incitement by
the leaders who continually claim that Israel is the enemy that must be fought,
and trickles down to the riled-up street,” he stated. “The Palestinians must
accept the fact that the first step to a future peace agreement must start with
recognizing the reality of the State of Israel as the Jewish state.”
Ofer prison, on the outskirts of Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians clashed with
the IDF and Border Police, hurling stones and burning tires and trash
The IDF responded with riot dispersal means including tear
A similar, smaller scale riot of 50 Palestinians occurred by the
Kalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Other smaller scale
incidents occurred, including a march along Route 60 in the Gush Etzion
Some 30 Palestinians threw stones at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem
and another 40 threw stones and Molotov Cocktails at the IDF in the village of
El-Khader. In Hebron, by the policemen’s checkpoint, some 30 Palestinians threw
stones at the IDF.
According to Palestinians, 75 activists were injured
in the West Bank demonstration mostly from tear gas inhalation.
the injured, including 10 from rubber bullets, were hurt in clashes with the IDF
near El-Arub village in the South Hebron region of the West Bank, according to
In a separate incident a Palestinian threw a Molotov
cocktail at an IDF jeep southwest of Hebron, lightly injuring two soldiers and
lightly to moderately injuring another two, who were taken to Soroka Medical
Center in Beersheba for treatment.
Palestinians from Israeli Arab towns
such as Sakhnin and other northern villages traveled to take part in the protest
at Damascus Gate.
While events in Jerusalem and the West Bank were marked
by violence and mass protests, events in Israeli Arab towns and villages were
mostly low key.
Protest activities were held in various Israeli Arab
villages, including Acre, Jaffa, Sakhnin and Nazareth. In Jaffa, there was a
sit-in in the middle of the town. A large political rally was held in Acre with
speeches and music.
Awad Abderfattah, secretary- general of the Balad
Party, told The Jerusalem Post they chose to hold an event in Acre “because it
used to be a Palestinian city and the Israelis destroyed it to prevent the
development of the Palestinians.
Awad Abderfattah, secretary- general of the Balad Party, told The Jerusalem Post they chose to hold an event in Acre “because it used to be a Palestinian city and the Israelis destroyed it to prevent the development of the Palestinians.
“Why is it okay that Israelis can
preserve their culture, but we are denied the same rights?” he asked. “We are
the owners of this land.”
Abderfattah pointed out that it was a
relatively new phenomenon for Palestinians from Israeli Arab towns such as
Sakhnin and other northern villages to travel to Jerusalem to protest at
Israeli Arabs “merged with Palestinians from Jerusalem,”
and this is something that is becoming more and more common, he said.
focus for Palestinians, said Abderfattah, is on the fact that “the anniversary
of the Nakba is not a past event, but is a continuous event manifested in the
separation of families and land confiscations and political
Abderfattah said that the Balad party and Israeli Arabs
were offering to change the future with “real coexistence without occupation and
persecution,” which would mean a kind of one-state solution advocated by some
Israeli Arab politicians and leaders.
Such a state, according to them,
should not be a Jewish state, but a purely secular democratic one, he
Tovah Lazaroff and Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.