Israeli Arabs march for right of return on Independence Day

MK Tibi to ‘Post’: The land exists, the citizens are here – So why not re-build the communities, and the owners will build their homes again?

April 23, 2015 19:41
2 minute read.
arab israel independence day

Arab-Israelis at a protest march in the Galilee on Israel’s Independence Day. (photo credit: ALI SROUJI)

Several thousand Arab Israelis at a protest march in Hadatha, an abandoned village 12.5 km southwest of Tiberias, on Independence Day commemorated Arab villages destroyed in the War of Independence.

“Almost 25 percent of Arab citizens are from displaced villagers destroyed in 1948,” Ta’al party chairman Ahmad Tibi told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

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“The land exists, the citizens are here – so why not rebuild the communities, and the owners will build their homes again?” he asked.

“On this day my people recall their total destruction, disaster, and expulsion,” Tibi said at the march.

“To this day, millions still live in exile in refugee camps and under occupation,” he exclaimed.

“We will educate the young generation to remember our narrative and looks forward to exercise our right as individuals and as a collective.”

Balad and Joint (Arab) List MK Basel Ghattas, who also participated in the event, criticized Israeli-Arab journalist Lucy Aharish, who lit a torch at the Independence Day ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday.

“While Israel is trying to sell to the world a false impression of coexistence and equality by the lighting of a torch on Independence Day by individuals who have accepted the defeat – up to an admiration of the oppressor,” said Ghattas. Israelis celebrate their independence on the Hebrew date of the declaration of independence, the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar. The holiday was celebrated this year a day earlier out of consideration of the Sabbath.

In 1948, 5 Iyar fell on May 14. Palestinians commemorate May 15 as a day of mourning, which they call Nakba Day. Nakba is the Arabic word for catastrophe.

The Palestinian Authority is conditioning a peace agreement on, among other things, the move to Israel of any refugees still alive and at least 3 million of their descendants.

“The march is the biggest event to commemorate the Palestinian Nakba and to call for the implementation of the right of return for the Palestinian refugees and the internally displaced,” organizers of the event from the Association for the Defense of the Rights of the Internally Displaced wrote in invitations to the march.

Zochrot, a Tel Aviv-based group devoted to raising awareness to the Nakba among Jews, arranged for transportation from Tel Aviv to the march.

JPost Staff contributed to this report.

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